After ten years spent evading the authorities, Jason Bourne resurfaces to find out what really happened in his past after a tip off from long-time ally, Nicky Parsons.
Matt Damon returns in his signature role, having been persuaded to do so by Paul Greengrass, directing his third Bourne movie, having worked with Damon on both Supremacy and Ultimatum. Also starring Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander.
Picking up directly from Ultimatum, Jason Bourne finds our unlikely hero scratching a living by taking part in illegal underground fighting, a decade after exposing the US authorities’ secret Blackbriar program.
Erstwhile companion and fellow fugative, Nicky Parsons, is in Iceland working with a hacking group who successfully infiltrate the CIA’s network. What she discovers is that Bourne’s father was directly involved in his recruitment into the original Treadstone project, so she sets up a meet with Jason to inform him. She picks a suitably hectic rendezvous in the middle of an angry anti-government protest in Athens, hoping that’ll give them enough cover to discuss everything she knows .. but what she doesn’t know is that the agency’s new head of system security, Heather Lee (played ice cold by Vikander), has traced her intrusion and is sending assets to intercept Bourne in Greece.
Though the action is frenetic, the story unfolds more slowly as Bourne moves around the globe, trying to piece together what happened in his past while also hoping to remain undercover. The cat and mouse tale that follows takes in London and Las Vegas, loads of hi-tech gadgetry, lots of punch-ups, a couple of car chases, a shady Steve Jobs-style Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a barely walking Tommy Lee Jones.
Boy, has Jones aged.
Never blessed with the smoothest of skins, his face resembles a crumpled brown paper bag that’s been stretched over an old, deflated football .. but he still steals every scene he’s in. His chemistry with Vikander’s Lee is tense and a bit creepy, as he plays mentor one minute and punisher the next. It all feels a bit voyeuristic so it comes as a bit of a relief when she finally shakes him off for a while to do a bit of nosing around on her own.
Still on the run, Bourne is doing likewise and soon the poacher-turns gamekeeper .. though which is which I’ll leave to the actual movie : no spoilers from me.
The action is strictly realistic as you’d expect in a JB movie – that’s Bourne, Jason Bourne, of course. None of the cartoon Bond stuff here, nor is there the sociopathic violence associated with Jack Bauer. There’s usually only one punch to put a man down, not 24 …
The script is beautifully minimal – and I mean that literally in the case of Matt Damon himself, who reputedly only has 45 lines, though I didn’t sit and count them.
That’s 288 words, folks.
But who needs words, right ?
Given everything that’s happened to the guy and especially what he discovers in this particular movie, we can forgive him if he’s a bit quiet : wouldn’t you be sulking if you found out again that your whole life has been a lie ?
Jones and Vikander both do admirable jobs as the agency hardliners tasked with bringing him in. Their focus is incredible, their determination unwavering .. until you compare it to Bourne’s.
Also worthy of acclaim is the brilliant French actor – normally a leading man in his own country – Vincent Cassell, who you may remember from Black Swan or the Oceans series. You know the guy – Juliet Binoche’s other half. Here, he’s playing an equally taciturn but slightly unhinged agent, hellbent on revenge from a prior Bourne misdemeanour.
As the story gathers pace and the tension mounts up, the action becomes more intense before building to a frenzied finale. The ending is actually superb and will definitely have you talking as you leave the cinema, desperately seeking answers of your own .. though you’ll have to see the movie for yourselves first.