Movie Review: Jason Bourne

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MV5BMTU1ODg2OTU1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzA5OTg2ODE@._V1_SX214_AL_“You know his name.”

When the “Bourne” series premiered 14 years ago, we didn’t know his name.  It’s groundbreaking and made Matt Damon (“The Martian,” “Elysium,” “The Adjustment Bureau“) a bona fide action star.  It’s a gritty, grounded action film.  The actions were realistically audacious.  Instead of heavily stylized, longer range shots, the hand-to-hand combat seemed realistic and performed with bravado.  The ‘parkouring’ into compact spaces looked cool. And the chases and crashes were spectacular.   At the same time, we’re also engrossed in a human story.  We had a real hero, Jason Bourne – not a superhero or James Bond – one that we cared about and rooted for.

In 2012, “Bourne” continued on without director and co-writer Paul Greengrass and its star, Damon. Jeremy Renner (“American Hustle,” the “Avengers” and “Mission Impossible” series) took the lead as agent Aaron Cross.  The movie was solid and enjoyable, but it wasn’t the same.

It’s been seven years since the last “Bourne” with Greengrass and Damon, and now, they’re back.  Damon (and Jason), while looking tired, is still in prime physical form, as proven particularly in the final  fight with Asset (Vincent Cassel, “Black Swan“), a CIA asset with a personal vendetta.  It’s brutal, bloodied and to the death.

Julia Stiles (Nicky Parsons) returned as a former CIA analyst.  First appearing in Reykjavik, she hacks into the CIA database and downloaded its programs, including black operations.  She sees the black-ops tied to Jason’s past, Operations Treadstone and Blackbriar, as well as the newest operation, Ironhand, a mass surveillance program.  She also comes across a classified file that has information on Jason’s father, including his secret connection to Operations Treadstone.  This makes his sudden death suspicious.

The CIA is not sitting idle.  The new head of the cyber division, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Ex-Machina“), traces Nicky’s hacking, and with a direct order from her superior, CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln,” “The Company Men,” “Captain America: The First Avenger“), sets a systematic trap to ensnare both Nicky and Jason when they re-connect.

From that point on, it’s high-speed and anarchy.  The meeting point is set in the middle of mass riots in Athens, filled with fights, shootouts and explosions.  A motorcycle chase ensues, with Jason and Nicky navigating the chaotic streets and staired alleys, trying to dodge angry demonstrators, police in riot gears and cars with blazing sirens, and sniper attack.

Off to Berlin and London, Jason meets with a former security officer who was working on surveilling him and his father nearly a couple decades ago.  The CIA continues to tail him, bringing in a team and Asset.  Heather tags along, although her motivation is more murky.  She’s more interested in bringing Jason in than putting him down.  Astute, ambitious, cool and composed, she may be a friend or a foe.

The pursuit culminates in Las Vegas at a technology convention, where a famous techie, the CIA director and cyber head are expected to attend as a panel.  More gun fires, car chases and smashes, including one seemingly unstoppable SWAT vehicle.  I’m not a fan of shaky cam in general, but the high-octane scenes are superbly executed, giving a feeling that you’re there, amidst the mangled metals and shattered glass.

Aside from one shocking, emotional moment, “Jason Bourne” works purely as an action movie, but it lacks the special ingredients that make up the “Bourne” series one the best spy thrillers.  A gripping storytelling with a human story, mystery and intrigue.

The ending is partly wrapped.  It’s good to see that ‘trust no one’ remains Jason’s motto and Damon may be back for another day.  Renner, in the meantime, is set to return for an offshoot sequel of his own.  Hope it’s not too much to ask for Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross to cross paths and join forces in the future.

Copyright (c) 2016.  Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at

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