After a near flawless trilogy and a forgettable follow up that missed its main attraction (sorry Jeremy Renner) everyone’s second favourite spy with the initials JB returns to the big screen, with the original creative team back on board, in Jason Bourne.
So, is it any good?
From the very first frame of this film, its clear we’re in safe hands; with Paul Greengrass confidently returning to the directors chair, and Matt Damon reprising his now iconic lead role as if no time has passed since 2007′ s The Bourne Ultimatum. Those nine intervening years have been far from kind to our main protagonist however, with Jason Bourne having been in hiding ever since the dramatic events in New York, and now scratching out a living as a bare knuckle boxer for hire.
But when an old friend (Julia Stiles) uncovers new information about Jason’s past, it brings the long dormant super spy back out of hiding, and straight into the crosshairs of an ever watchful CIA, led by the hard as nails Director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). Over the course of the next two hours we’re treated to another gripping game of cat and mouse, as a tormented Jason traverses the globe, facing new adversaries and meeting new potential allies, in his quest to stay one step ahead of an enemy who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets safe.The strength of this series has always been the thrill of watching Bourne get himself out of near impossible situations, and its in this regard that this new installment excels. There are several sequences littered throughout the film where we cross cut between our hero on the ground, an ever approaching threat, and some far away bunker utilizing all manner of state of the art surveillance. And its surveillance that seems to be at the forefront of Greengrass and screenwriter Christopher Rouse’s minds, with the film addressing issues of privacy in this post-Snowden digital age.The cast is mostly strong, with Matt Damon being the obvious standout in a role that’s always required immense physicality from the actor coupled with a deep internal pain. Elsewhere, Riz Ahmed makes a believable internet start up billionaire, and Tommy Lee Jones delivers his usual Tommy Lee Jones-gruffness to great effect. If there’s a weak link, it’s this years Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, who does the best with the material she’s been given, but sadly plays a character so robotic you’d be forgiven for thinking the actress was reprising her role from last years Ex-Machina.
There is also a case to be made that we’ve seen much of this before, and structurally Jason Bourne does recycle many of the same story beats from previous installments and simply stages them in different locations with different character names. But when the set pieces are this inventive, the music so relentlessly tense, and the stunts so jaw dropping, who really cares?Jason Bourne is a welcome return for an action franchise I didn’t even realise I missed until now. The series continues to raise the bar for gritty spy action in an age of super surveillance, with Matt Damon showing interesting new layers in yet another nuanced performance. By the time the familiar strings of Moby’s theme tune begin to play at the climax, you’ll wonder how two hours passed by so quickly. If that’s not a sign of an entertaining film, I don’t know what is.
Jason Bourne opens in Australian cinemas today