01
Oct
16

The Bourne Mediocrity (AKA Jason Bourne 5)

Thirty minutes in, and right after a major action sequence, I checked my watch to see how much time was left in this movie. I grimaced when I saw there was still another ninety minutes to go. Jason Bourne, the fifth film in the series, is yet another one of Hollywood’s ill-advised attempts at resurrecting franchises. Instead of wowing, it falls flat on its face, and makes you wish they had stopped with the third film.

The fundamental problem with Jason Bourne is it’s a film stuck in the past. The original trilogy is undeniably phenomenal. It is one of those rare “perfect trilogies” that never makes a misstep. Expanding the series beyond that meant there was nowhere to go, and they would be doing nothing but rehashing old concepts.

In each film, Bourne regains some of his memories. In the first, it’s unraveling the mystery of who he is. In the second, it’s his first assignment, when he truly became a killer. And in the third, it’s his origin, how he joined the program in the first place. We got all the necessary information, in backward order, no less, which is sort of a triumph in and of itself.

Since we already know all the major points of Bourne’s life, what further mystery of his past would interest us? The filmmakers were clueless. So, they added a really cliché revenge plot. It turns out that Bourne’s father invented the assassin program (of course he did), and he was killed by his own government before he could tell Bourne not to join (*facepalm*). So, for Bourne, THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL! Not that each film wasn’t already personal. But THIS TIME IT’S EXTRA PERSONAL!

The revenge plotline goes nowhere. The only relevance it has to the rest of the story is that the super-old assassin who killed Bourne’s father comes out of the shadows to kill Bourne, too. Like it’s believable some old fart would last two seconds in a fight against at totally ripped Matt Damon, but whatever.

The main plot is the SAME FUCKING THING that was done in all the other films. Bourne tracks down information about shady government programs, and threatens to shut them down/expose them to the world. The fifth time out, you’d think they’d try something new. At this point it was hard to care. I watched with minimal interest as CIA jerks yelled at satellite feeds while Bourne kicked generic bad-guy ass.

There was a glimmer of hope when they introduce a potential story thread. One of the CIA agents read Bourne’s dossier, and learned that once he left the agency, he would do whatever he could to stay involved; he didn’t know what else to do with himself. Initially I thought, HOLY SHIT THIS IS REALLY COOL! Bourne desired so badly to be involved with the CIA, he actually hallucinated clandestine programs, and tried to wage war against those. Basically, he’s totally crazy. That would have been an amazing plot twist. But, no, they didn’t go that route. They used their idea to try and bring Bourne back into the CIA as a cliffhanger for the eventual sequel. Whatever. Lame. Fuck that shit.

The other thing that remained mired in the past was the directing. Director Paul Greengrass’ shakey-cam/spaz-editing exploded in popularity with this series’ second and third films. For a brief time, every action movie did this, including the horrendous James Bond picture, Quantum of Solace. Thankfully, that fad has come and gone. Nobody does it anymore, because it’s fucking nauseating to watch. But Greengrass brought it back AGAIN! The action scenes are incomprehensible. When Bourne is involved in a motorcycle chase in Greece, I had no fucking clue where he was in relation to his enemies or random obstacles. For a chase scene to work, the audience needs to remain oriented. But when the audience is disoriented, the scene is confusing and fails to be effective. All of the fight scenes are like this, too.

The acting is dreadful, as well. Tommy Lee Jones is so bored by the material, he doesn’t even try to ham it up with his usual southern charm. Alicia Vikander is practically comatose, rendered robotic by her disinterest in everything around her. If anyone can be acquitted it would be Damon. He once again plays the role of amnesiac, man-of-few-words brilliantly. His fight scenes are brutal, and he truly became a ruthless spy once more. He’s still formidable in the role, and brought his A-game. Too bad he had so little to work with.

A character said that the reason for the villain’s downfall was his being, “stuck in the past.” It’s ironic, because that’s exactly the reason Jason Bourne fails as a film. The ideas are recycled, and the directing technique is a gimmick that was hot ten years ago, but has since fallen out of favor.

The only other good thing I can say about this film is that it wasn’t as shitty as The Bourne Legacy. They tried to recapture the magic, but the lightning has since escaped the bottle. Recycling decade-old ideas proves they have drained the well dry. That’s the best argument for leaving this franchise alone. It ended on a high-note in 2007, and that’s where they should have left it: in the past.

Verdict: Bad

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2 Responses to “The Bourne Mediocrity (AKA Jason Bourne 5)”


  1. October 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    It’s a shame studios can’t just leave well enough alone. The original Bourne trilogy was perfect, as you say. Then they go and make Legacy and now this one, diluting the effectiveness of the original three films with two mediocre ones. Ugh.


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