By George Thomas
If the character of Jason Bourne ever runs out of personal issues with the United States government, the franchise will actually run out of steam.
As it was star Matt Damon took a one movie break from the franchise, his last appearance coming in 2007’s THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM.
However, judging from JASON BOURNE, which opens on area screens Friday, the day this series runs out of steam won’t be this week. That’s because director-writer Paul Greengrass, who co-wrote with Christopher Rouse, knows exactly what keeps fans returning to see the character Robert Ludlum created in literary form – the stylized action that’s choreographed like the Bolshoi Ballet. Then, of course, Damon’s presence elevates the film as Jason Bourne, a former CIA operative.
Over the years, he’s turned Bourne from an unthinking killing machine to a soul tortured by his past and the deeds he committed as a government assassin. You’d think there wouldn’t be much more to explore given that Bourne looked to have set himself free in the last outing. But not so fast.
His former colleague, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles’ welcome return to the franchise) discovers something new related to Bourne’s commitment to Operation Treadstone, the black ops program that he was part of as a member of the CIA.
Nicky discovers that Bourne’s father played a role in some way with the program and may have been killed for that reason. That sets him on a path to collide with the CIA and its shady director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and his assistant Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander).
Tommy Lee’s addition to the festivities is most welcome as he brings Dewey to oily life, never quite revealing the director’s motives until the last possible moment. It’s one of those subtle Jones turns that brings a slow smile to audience members’ faces.
Vikander’s Heather Lee comes across as steely, almost icy in some respects with confidence that borders on cockiness.
Greengrass’ script concocts a paranoid world in which Bourne doesn’t know who can be trusted. Therefore he relies on the only person he can – himself. In that regard, Damon gives a minimalist performance. Damon conveys any emotion beyond determination using his eyes.
Damon delivers his share of tense moments, but Greengrass does as well in that his non-fighting action sequences are untraditional by today’s standards. Most action flicks feature car chases and Jason Bourne has a couple, but some of the white knuckle moments come courtesy of chases done on foot as Greengrass’ herky-jerky camera movement follows ever sudden move.
Add all of this and JASON BOURNE proves to be a worthy entry into the Bourne saga.
Movie: JASON BOURNE
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief strong language
Running time: 123 minutes
George’s rating: 3-of-4 stars