Monday, August 1, 2016

Jason Bourne Returns For Vengeance...and Just About with One

Hi friend! Today I am excited to bring you [I think] my first attempt at a movie review. And what better place to start than BOURNE! Let's do the thing!

Always striking a pose, even on the run

Our new adventure picks up after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum - the special ops programs are known, and those who ran them are in jail or dead. Meanwhile Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is trying to stay off the grid, living a simple life of street fighting.

Enter Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles). An old ally from the program, she's on her own crusade against THE MAN and digging for information. The plan: to expose all the special ops programs to the public. She gets what she needs and torches her gear, and just like that, BOURNE is right back in it.


Before I go further, let me admit something (though longtime TMP fans already know): I love this franchise. I've seen the movies more than once. I've read the first three novels - though I consider them to be separate "universes." I have my compliments and my complaints on each one. But the bottom line is: it's been nine (9!) years since we've seen Bourne, and I've missed him. And you know what? His return didn't disappoint.

That's not to say this movie is perfect. It had a slow pace at times - it felt more "true" to the novels in that way. Some scenes at the CIA or when Parsons was hacking the system for example, could have been a bit shorter/quicker. But that's a complain I had with parts of The Bourne Legacy as well. Maybe we should ask Tony Gilroy about this.

It also would have been nice to see a reference, or even a passing mention, of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) and the events of Legacy. I get that they were separate, but Outcome was a part of the black ops programs so it should have at least been named as to not make the movie seem irrelevant. And if it was at least shown on screen, I missed it and this paragraph should be cutting room floor material. See? This is just like the show!

And maybe the struggle between the CIA (Robert Dewey, played by Tommy Lee Jones) and a fancy tech startup, Deep Dream, (led by Aaron Kalloor, played by Riz Ahmed) is just Greengrass trying to stay "hip" to current trends and buzzwords, but I for one enjoy when art imitates life. And while we don't know what Deep Dream does, it shows how deep THE MAN is into the people (ha), and falls right in line with another power struggle within the CIA.

Lee and Dewey, deciding who gets lunch

A staple of the franchise, this film is not without the old guard pulling rank over the new blood. The new girl this time around is Head of Cyber Ops, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander). To put it simply: Dewey wants Bourne taken out, Lee wants him brought in, and Bourne? He wants to tie up his loose ends and return TO THE STREETS.

He knows who he is, but now he needs to know who targeted him for the program, and why his dad keeps appearing in his flashbacks.

As a quick aside: I loved the flashbacks and that Bourne had little dialogue. These make sense, given the nature of the character. He's a broken man with nothing and no one left. He doesn't need to verbalize when he can punch-ilize. And the flashbacks gave us at least two big plot points, which I will not spoil here.

This journey for answers and ass-kickings takes him around the globe, to many familiar places:

  • Athens - the same room where Abbott (Brian Cox) tried to bring him in at the end of The Bourne Identity, after they'd taken Marie.
  • Berlin - the site of his first-ever Treadstone mission
  • London - a key setting in Ultimatum
  • Las Vegas - a new place, but they got to tear it up on the strip!

Of course, no Bourne movie is complete without THE ASSET (Vincent Cassel) and a car chase! One thing I was bummed about regarding the asset was that he didn't get to showcase enough badassery, though his role is shown to be more "involved" than the other assets. And he did get to shine in the car chase down the strip, and in the subsequent round of fisticuffs. That stuff was awesome.

170 cars were wrecked for this, Wooooooo!

So as slow as the pacing was in places, as disjointed as the story seemed at times, (almost like 3 parallel tales - Bourne's search, CIA/Deep Dream, the aforementioned political turmoil), and the lack of Renner/Outcome being mentioned, I really enjoyed this movie.

When the action picked up, it jumped and the visuals were amazing (the car chase might be the best one in the franchise. I'll do some research and report back).

Speaking of visuals, a favorite part of the series for me is the locations, like the ones I listed up there. Bourne travels the globe to get away from or get to his enemies, and the movies never disappoint in the presentation. A big reason why I think highly of all the installments, strange as it may seem.

In addition to enjoying the development of the Bourne character, I have to praise Alicia Vikander here. She was just fantastic in her role as the new CIA LAAAADYYYYY. The dynamics between her and Bourne/Dewey were great. The idea that she could go rogue with Bourne or turn on him to side with THE MAN at any point was intriguing and kept me hooked. 

And the music! As always it was perfect, setting the tone and complemening each scene very well. A high five to the man or woman in charge of that. Let's credit Moby for now.

And one of the best parts about this movie was that it ended in a way that could either wrap the saga here or give us another thrilling adventure. My dream for the series? One more film with both Bourne and Cross to put a nice bow on it. Make it happen, big wigs!

Overall I give this a solid 8: a very enjoyable ride for Bourne fans. Is that biased? Of course it is, remember who wrote this. But I think this has a lot to offer despite its flaws. I had fun seeing it and I think you will, too. (Note: this was originally a 7 rating, but I reconsidered. Call it the Bourne Bias).

Before you can stop scrolling, allow me to present my OFFICIAL [updated] BOURNE RANKING:

The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Ultimatum
Jason Bourne
The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne Supremacy


Thanks for coming, my friends! I hope you enjoyed our time together, and the movie if you saw it. Let me know if you'd like me to do a half-assed review of any of your favorite movies or shows. Until next time: have fun, be safe, and don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Crap open a cold one!

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