Jason Bourne has always been a man of few words, but he’s always been an interesting character and the films have always been about him first and foremost. Identity was about him learning that he was a trained assassin, Supremacy forced him to face up to the effect his work had on those left behind and Ultimatum saw him discovering who he really was.
What made Bourne different from Bond was that Bourne felt like a real human being, an evolving character who had the propensity to change. In Jason Bourne, we get a running and punching Bourne-bot dropped into a half-arsed spy adventure; for the first time, he feels like James Bond.
With Jason Bourne, there’s no attempt to explore what Bourne has been doing for ten years, unless we are to believe that he has spent this whole time on a world streetfighting tour. The only thing that we do learn about Bourne is why he volunteered for the program, which really isn’t enough to warrant another film, especially when it’s uncovered once again through conveniently timed flashbacks and feels like inessential back story entirely thought up to justify the film’s existence.
There’s nothing wrong with the idea of bringing Bourne into a ‘Post-Snowden’ era but the story here is lacking in nuance and often feels inessential. There are a handful of new characters who are either derivative versions of other characters in the series – Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and The Asset (Vincent Cassel) – or ideas of characters that haven’t been properly transferred to the screen – Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) and Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed). The action scenes are as competently handled as you would expect from Greengrass and co., but only the opening chase through Athens can sit alongside the series’ best sequences.
Damon and Greengrass did not have to make this film; this was not The Bourne Contractual Obligation, so it’s disappointing to get a film this uninspiring when they had steadfastly stated that they didn’t want to make another one after Ultimatum. At its best, Jason Bourne is recap of Bourne’s greatest hits; at its worst, it’s a film from people who seem to have forgotten what made Bourne interesting in the first.Hey, maybe they got amnesia too.
Jason Bourne was released in UK cinemas on Wednesday 27th August.