“You know his name”. That’s the tagline emblazoned across Matt Damon’s face on the poster for his and director Paul Greengrass’ franchise revival Jason Bourne. After having seen this 9-year later sequel now, I think a more appropriate slogan would have been “You know this movie”, as what we have here is a sequel you’ve actually seen before – I guess you could say it’s Bourne again. Sigh.
With The Bourne Supremacy having wrapped up the primary narrative arc for our titular amnesiac government superspy by giving him back his memories, Damon and Greengrass famously said that they were done with the character as there’s no more story left to tell. And despite this unexpected cinematic effort to prove their former selves to the contrary and revitalize the franchise after the misfire of the Jeremy Renner led The Bourne Legacy spinoff, I’m going to have to side with their earlier assessment.
Gone is the status quo-upsetting grand conspiracies of the previous Damon-headlined films and instead we get Bourne drawn out of nearly a decade’s worth of hiding when erstwhile Girl Friday turned Julian Assange-type hacker Nicky Parsons (Julia Styles) discovers a secret about Bourne’s father. A secret that lands with the equivalent narrative explosiveness of a damp firecracker.
Despite what Greengrass’ frantic direction might try to get you to believe, this latest wrinkle in the increasingly convoluted personal saga of Jason Bourne is not just an unengaging one, but also a fairly rote mystery. This movie may take place in the world of Central Intelligence, but there seems to be a lack of the latter as it takes Bourne a whole movie to puzzle out what it will probably take most audiences just one patchy edited flashback to do.
Whatever the wishy-washy reasons for Bourne’s resurfacing though, it puts him in the crosshairs of CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and his ambitiously ravenous cyber ops team leader Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander). Despite finding themselves on the broader same side, their goals don’t always align though. Lee feels she can still put their ex-attack dog back on his leash, whereas Dewey wants his brutish Asset (Vincent Cassel) to take said dog out back and introduce it to the business end of a high powered rifle.