Jason Bourne born picks up a mere nine years after Bourne’s last appearance in 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. Bourne, still on the run after uncovering and exposing CIA black projects, hasn’t been seen since – until an old ally of sorts pulls him into another web of you guessed it … more CIA black projects! (Who knew?)
The film mirrors today’s socio-political backdrop so it goes without saying that the world is still a bleak and chilling playground of mayhem for Bourne to make himself at home and crack a couple skulls while he’s at it. Jason Bourne is an action movie after all — and it does a damn good job of delivering action. “Mindless action film” is an even better way to describe Jason Bourne however. Simply because if you’re looking for anything else from this film aside from its action, you’ll find it is hemorrhaging profusely in terms of any real depth.
Jason Bourne’s primary flaw revolves around a weak story catalyst that gets the ball rolling on the plot. And a plot in-turn that progressively gets worse when exceedingly cliché amnesia-based plot devices are sprinkled on top to recharge Bourne’s blunt-forced curiosities. There just isn’t enough to really care. You, as an audience member, are just along for the ride. And boy what a “ride” it was …
Keeping in line with his radical departure of the style set forth in 2002’s The Bourne Identity, director Paul Greengrass spared no expense in his overuse of the infamous “shaky-cam” technique – move over Cloverfield! This movie will not be for everyone, based solely on the headache-inducing cinematography. The vast majority of this film was shot like it was a found footage film. Similar to the action sequences from the “Transformers” films, there were multiple times where you would have no idea what you were looking at or where you were supposed to be looking due to the camera work and twitchy editing. Greengrass even trolls you numerous times by leaving it up to you, the viewer, to read messages off characters’ phones; the only problem is that the camera is literally shaking so much that it makes it incredibly difficult to track said message in enough time!
Greengrass’ “queesicam” style works in certain situations like a sequence that takes place during rioting in Greece. The shaky-cam lends an in-your-face realism to situations like this – but not the entire damn movie. Bourne, beaten and battered within inches of his life, can’t even walk slowly down a long hallway all by his lonesome during long a quiet moment without it appearing to be in a high magnitude scale earthquake. The cinematography also suffers with numerous instances of characters being out of focus, which is just sad and makes you wonder if the shooting style lent to the higher than usual rate of so many gaffes for a professional film.
The acting however didn’t detract from Jason Bourne’s flaws and, if anything, helped keep the film afloat. Aside from a few laughable lines necessary to keep dizzy audience members in the loop as to what was going on (thanks to the film’s ham-fisted plot), the characters were quite enjoyable. Matt Damon’s portrayal of an aged and still very capable Jason Bourne was solid along with franchise newcomers Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander. Julia Stiles reprising her role as Nicky Parsons was a surprising addition to the cast along with Vincent Cassel who played “Asset,” the film’s relentless antagonist who you could easily root against.
Jason Bourne is mediocre film with some good, trippy action sequences and set-pieces. It doesn’t set any bars or knock your socks off. The convoluted plot may fly over your head at times, but the film as a whole does keep your attention from beginning to end. The question you have to ask yourself though is if Jason Bourne keeps your attention because you are actually enjoying yourself or you’re just trying to keep up with the madness of how this film was shot. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.
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