I was a little late familiarising myself with the Bourne films, and despite the fourth instalment having passed me by to date, like many of you, having finally seen the original trilogy, the prospect of a further fifth chapter with the franchise’s original star, Matt Damon, on board, was something to get excited about.
The series of films that came out of nowhere and gave the Bond legacy a good kick up the rear end, is back. But does it deliver?
Against the odds, I have to say – I wasn’t at all disappointed.
Why ‘against the odds’ you cry?
My heart so often sinks when a film company releases a sequel, in this case to a whole series of films that have all delivered superbly thus far at a higher certification, yet suddenly deems it necessary to lower a film’s rating, and in turn our expectations, by adopting the all encompassing, bums-on-seats death knell that is 12A; so often the tell-tale sign of a film company’s big sell-out in their panic to recoup a hefty initial outlay.
Thankfully, Jason Bourne is directed in a manner that’s sympathetic to the core attributes that made its predecessors such a hit. Its a film whose only real concession to the lowered rating is to restrain itself from the overly-gratuitous, and to any scenes of over-the-top, in-your-face violence. The grit, realism (to a point) and suspense remains and is layered on thick and fast.
As ever, Bourne is up against it. This time he’s targeted by the CIA for both his part in past misdemeanours (when at the behest of the CIA), and through his new association with Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), a computer hacker who, acting on behalf of a whistle-blower, seeks to expose truths about -amongst others – the highly sensitive CIA operation, Treadstone. Consequently the pair find themselves on the run, pursued by an assortment of CIA goons and assets – with one particularly determined assassin, played by Vincent Cassell – hell bent on bumping them off, lest the truth should come out.
Needless to say, Bourne isn’t coming quietly.
As the chase intensifies, stark truths about Bourne’s past and the death of his father come to light, galvanising his resolve to see justice done.
It’s all high-octane fun with some genuinely riveting chase and fight sequences, well choreographed and impressively executed.
This, together with a good cast – Tommy Lee Jones is CIA Director Robert Dewey and Alicia Vikander plays Heather Lee – and the creation of a convincing, over-riding sense of suspense that director Paul Greengrass does well to sustain throughout, makes Jason Bourne a surprisingly decent effort.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing particularly new here, and certainly no re-writing of the genre or benchmark-setting for the future, but much as with the Bond franchise, that’s not necessarily important.
If you’re a fan of mainstream quality, gritty espionage thrillers, this should hit the mark.