A couple of weeks ago I went to see the newest Bourne movie, aptly called Jason Bourne. Okay. I wasn’t expecting much, except that a part of me, just beneath the surface, was kind of fanboying a little bit over the reunion of Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass in a Bourne film.
Thoughts on the New Film
I mean, I’m not a huge fan of Matt Damon with his latent racism and all, but The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum were just… amazing. So yeah I kind of went into this latest film with the hope that I may come out awestruck.
Let’s just say that that was not the case. Jason Bourne is a pretty good spy flick. The stunts are cool, the action literally does not stop; it’s a relentless chase, and the acting is good, as expected with the old cast members, including Julia Stiles, as well as some new faces like Alicia Vikander (Who’s in everything nowadays) and Riz Ahmed (Who’s in everything too).
But this stunning cast, and the Damon-Greengrass collaboration wasn’t enough for me. The film didn’t work on the level that the original trilogy did. I know this because last weekend I literally sat in bed and spent my entire Saturday binge-watching the trilogy. And those films are awesome!
The Original Trilogy
They are so innovative on a macro level in terms of the story line and broader institutional and international politics, as well as on a micro level from scene to scene where everything from the way Bourne uses his environment to move, and the items around him to fight, to the way the audience experiences this with the way the camera moves around Bourne in a very documentary-like fashion.
What’s the Love/Hate?
So if the new film doesn’t live up to the old trilogy, what is this love/hate relationship I have with the new film? Well, it’s got a lot to do with the investment that audiences have in Bourne’s past, which is perfect for the storytellers, as the entire premise of the franchise has to do with Bourne’s dark past, and him discovering more and more about it. But I’m not even talking about how he ended up in the project and all that; I’m talking about the past created as a result of the original trilogy.
It was so great seeing Julia Stiles come back in this film, and see her and Bourne reconnect (although briefly). It’s the little bit of light in the otherwise emotionally dank film. Bourne feels more disconnected from his surroundings than he ever has in the past (even when he didn’t have a memory). So when we see him with Nicky Parsons, it takes him (as us) back to those various moments when he saw her in previous movies and had that moment of pause – It’s like he always knew there was something special/different about her. That she had integrity, and was a good person caught in a much larger, sinister organisation. And all of that is brought to a head in this film, when she reveals to Bourne that there’s so much more that he doesn’t know. And then she gets killed.
This should have hit like a ton of bricks. But it didn’t.
I just feel like Jason Bourne (The film) should have given the audience a bit of a more detailed refresher on who Nicky Parsons is. More than just a “connected to Jason Bourne” on her file. The previous films are so much about Bourne himself (and so is this one) that it’s difficult to feel as much for a (kind of) side character from a trilogy of films that wrapped up more than 10 years ago. It’s a much different thing when Marie (Franka Potente’s character) dies in The Bourne Supremacy, because that was the follow up to the first film that came out only 2 years earlier. It’s fresh, the stakes are higher.
Technology in the new film is used very carelessly. There’s all this hacking going on, and all these gadgets and cool things that can do cool stuff. There’s even this huge social media or search engine company, a lot like Google or Facebook. And, as expected there’s the Snowden connection, where the film references the huge leak of information from the NSA by Edward Snowden on the spying of technology companies and the government.
But this isn’t done very smartly in the film. The audience is always left out of the conversation because of jargon, or because something works because it works. Someone’s hacking? Okay, they achieved their goal through hacking. The original Bourne trilogy, while filled with some interesting spy magic, was also innovative with the mundane things in life. I mentioned earlier in this piece how Bourne uses the world and objects around him to fight and get himself out of sticky situatios. There’s just not much of that kind of thing going on in Jason Bourne.
Overall, Jason Bourne is a good popcorn flick, but it has nothing on the original trilogy in terms of technical filmmaking and choreography, as well as the emotional stakes, and the way broader, complicated and simple technological spy gadgets and items are used in the film. So yeah, I think I’m going to stick to the original Bourne trilogy and pretend this film didn’t really happen at all.
Check out the Jason Bourne trailer below:
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