It’s seldom when one can confidently say a 2000s franchise can receive a scarcely anticipated sequel, and come up with a brilliant offering. But if Ethan Hunt can do it, then Matt Damon can certainly seek to outperform as ‘Jason Bourne‘, a new injection to the Bourne film series, directed by Paul Greengrass, and loosely based on the Robert Ludlum and Eric van Lustbader books.
Damon reprises the role of a psychogenic amnesiac who’s a former CIA super agent, desperate for answers as to who he really is. At the onset, we see a Jason Bourne who’s content with a life of obscurity, living from hand-to-mouth as he participates in deadly boxing matches across Central Europe. It’s a world that’s far away from the espionage he was accustomed to, and more importantly, away from the prying eyes of an increasingly lethal intelligence agency which appears to have blurred the lines that separate its mandate and its desperation for survival.
A hack into the Central Intelligence Agency intra-network is traced to a very suspecting 30-something year old female, who gains access to critical information on a series of covert operations that span decades – intel which the CIA is adamant should not fall into public hands. This isolated incident is what leads America’s watchdog straight to Bourne, who had been, until that point, AWOL.
Robert Dewey (played by Tommy Lee Jones) is the Head of the CIA and instructs his protege and head of operations, Heather Lee (played by Alicia Vikander) to obtain Bourne’s whereabouts, assist in his capture and control the damage that’s already been done. Lee is a remarkable woman, and a unique strategist who’s level-headed, ambitious, always a step ahead of the rest, and above all, knows how to do er job, and does it well. When the CIA is threatened, she fits into her role of capture and control quite well, often with efficiency that sub consciously threatens Dewey himself.
The film feels more like ‘the Bourne Identity’ all over again, as Jason is in search of the missing pieces to the puzzle of who he is and who his father was. Lee soon discovers that the CIA Head may not be a night in shining armour after all, following an assassination attempt on an ‘un-cooperative’ CEO of a social media enterprise, Riz Ahmed (played by Aaron Kapoor). When starting up Deep Dream, the social media enterprise, Riz had been in intel cohoots with Dewey in order to get ahead of the game, sins which he later confessed but gave him little vindication from the tentacles of being manipulated. Let’s just say that collateral damage was the least of the worries of this CIA Head who’s teetering on roguishness.
What ensues is a series of literally hot pursuits – from jaw-crunching fist fights at street boxing matches and Vegas abandoned buildings, to motorcycle madness on narrow alleys in Athens at the height of a riot. It’s a fantastic employment of minimal technological assistance, as we’re used to with numerous action films these days, to a resolution of who can smartly and quickly utilise the contents of a gun barrel and biceps.
The finale is mano-a-mano brawl between Bourne and a hired hand, code named ‘The Asset’ (played by Vincent Cassel), a man who is so precise and diabolical, one cannot help but relish in his inevitable downfall.
While it seems a more ‘save Bourne, save the CIA’, rather than the stakes being global, ‘Jason Bourne’ is one of the greatest spy action films of our generation – for its simplicity, its rapidly evolving yet constant plot and its ‘back-to-the-basics’ in a modern era sort of approach. You will certainly enjoy the show.