Directed by Paul Greengrass
I adore the Bourne franchise. Well, the Matt Damon-centric Bourne franchise. The less said about the Renner episode the better. They are the epitome of what a great action series should be and that’s because they have so much going for them: a great action director (Paul Greengrass for 2 & 3), an even better screenwriter (Tony Gilroy), and perhaps the most comfortable star to watch since Jimmy Stewart (Matt Damon). The films are thrilling, yet earnest, and about, what feels like, a real person’s journey. So it is with GREAT dismay that I must report that “Jason Bourne”, while possessing two of the three production ingredients mentioned above, has NONE of the heart, soul nor intrigue of the others. It simply lays there, which is saying something given its action-packed assault on the senses. The movie could have been about anything, it has so little connection to the original three…in fact, it would have been a fine addition to the “Transporter” series, for instance. It might as well have been “Black Hat: Part 2 – Blacker and Hattier!” But, as a Bourne film…it’s simply dreadful.
The first clue should’ve been that the script is credited to the director and his editor. This is not just a terribly trite script, it also possesses the creakiest and most obvious dialogue you’ll ever see. The line from the trailer (“my god, that’s Jason Bourne”) is pretty typical of its blandness. And Jason Bourne literally has 25 lines of dialogue. TWENTY FIVE! A fitting amount for Arnold Schwarzenegger, perhaps, but Matt Damon?! Also, the film makes the mistake of being yet another origin story. We don’t care. We’ve been down that road already…a couple times…in a really successful way. We DO care about the mess of a man named Jason Bourne. Make a movie about that! But, it must be stated, the chases are pretty good, even if the cyber-tech, that is the focus of 75% of the film’s plot, is ridiculous. Yawn.
As for the acting…as a rule, we criminally under-value the role of the casting director when praising film and television. It’s my belief that this is because the general consumer assumes that casting begins and ends with a title’s movie stars. Not so. In fact, good casting – surrounding the stars – can make or break a production. Take, for instance, HBO’s “The Night Of”. Every single performance seems to crawl straight out of the text…the minor characters beautifully filling in the moments of silence with more beautiful moments of silence. Or look to “The Infiltrator”. Not a great film, but don’t blame the casting director. Every character, from top to bottom, is note perfect. BUT, when a film is this poorly conceived, the casting director must share some of the blame, as well. Let’s start with the line I mentioned earlier. Ato Essandoh, whom I love in “Elementary” as Holmes’ car-thieving AA sponsor, is simply awful in this role. There is just no sense of reality or stake in his performance, and, alas, his character should MATTER! Then there’s Vincent Cassel, as our de facto bad guy. Why is a French person playing the uber-American Patriot? No explanation…just go with it, I suppose. Riz Ahmed, so great in “The Night Of”, is utterly in a different film here. I can’t explain the purpose of his character or performance at all. And, finally, what the hell is Alicia Vikander doing in this film? Apparently the CIA hires 20-year-olds as the head of Cyber Security for the entire CIA. Not only can she not carry the import of her profession, but she can’t convincingly speak with an American accent. She consistently pronounces “us” with the European use of the the “z” consonant, ie “It’s true for all of uzz”. Huh? Just lazy casting (and uninspiring performances) all around.
And, lest I forget, the score is one staccato note…over and over…and over…and over. David Buckley has taken John Powell’s well known Bourne scores and pissed all over them.
This is, for my money, the most disappointing film of the year, and while I normally add the disclaimer, “I didn’t care for it, but you might”…this time I’m just going to say it. This is a bad film. Watch the first three again, because they’re great. “Jason Bourne” is, excruciatingly, not.
Written on 8/4/2016