“Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” – André Malraux
The Jason Bourne of movies bears little resemblance to the Jason Bourne of the Robert Ludlum trilogy that began in 1980 with The Bourne Identity. That’s not a bad thing. The changes were the best part of the first three film adaptations of the Ludlum novels and now with the reunification of Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass in the new Jason Bourne, the franchise is back in a big way.
It’s been almost a decade since the world has seen “Jason Bourne” (Matt Damon). He is completely off the grid and taking part in illegal fights to support himself. The only other character from the earlier films, “Nicky Parsons” (Julia Stiles) finally manages to hack into the CIA’s classified mainframe computer and download the highly classified files that contain information on the origins of the Treadstone Program that created Jason Bourne. She arranges to turn over the data to Bourne in Greece.
Unbeknownst to her, she did not break into the CIA’s computers without being detected. “Heather Lee” (Alicia Vikander) detects the intrusion and reports her findings to the CIA Director, “Robert Dewey” (Tommy Lee Jones). He has his own reasons for wanting to put Jason Bourne in his rear view mirror once and for all. They try to intercept Parsons and Bourne in Greece, with Dewey deploying an operative known only as “The Asset” (Vincent Cassel) to kill them. He, like Dewey, has a personal reason for wanting Bourne dead. Ms Lee’s agenda is different than those of Dewey and The Asset. She sees the return of Jason Bourne as her best opportunity to make a major move upward in the CIA hierarchy of power.
The other parts of the story are that Jason Bourne’s memory is coming back and what he is remembering will motivate him to take action; along with a new project about to come online involving a gigantic social media company known as “Deep Dream.” The company’s founder, “Aaron Kalloor” (Riz Ahmed) is having his arm twisted by Director Dewey to replace the metadata collection that the NSA had engaged in before Edward Snowden blew the whistle on them.
This is a film where the key roles are especially well cast. Tommy Lee Jones could serve as the prototype of someone at the top of the intelligence/espionage food-chain, for whom the means justify any ends he sees fit to order. Alicia Vikander gives a tight performance, not quite as emotionless as in Ex Machina but nowhere near the Oscar-winning emoting she did in The Danish Girl. Matt Damon says very little verbally but communicates extremely well with nuanced facial expressions and body language.
Some find fault in director Paul Greengrass’ use of handheld cameras. Their use does nothing to detract from what are some of the best action scenes this year. While no one will ever top the car chase scenes from Bullitt or the original Gone in 60 Seconds, the Vegas car chase scene in this film is one of the best in some time. Jason Bourne is a winner.