After months of anticipation and excitement, I finally got to see the fourth, yes, I’m not counting The Bourne Legacy film – I’ll get back to this later, film in the Jason Bourne series which saw Matt Damon return to this iconic role after 2007’s blockbuster hit The Bourne Ultimatum. Back then, Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass was so certain that the action trilogy was over much to the grief of fans the world over, the attempt to continue the franchise with 2012’s The Bourne Legacy which starred Jeremy Renner was a bit of a disappointment as it was hard to imagine the Bourne universe without Bourne. This made fans want Matt Damon to return to the role even more.
And he eventually did, Jason Bourne shifts the focus back to the ex-CIA black ops agent who turns out to be spending his time in retirement and being ‘off the grid’ by joining prize fights and beating tough guys senseless in Greece. It presents a Jason Bourne that has clearly aged but has not lost his killer chops. Which is a good thing as it kept the franchise clothed with realness, Jason Bourne may have been the most dangerous weapon in the CIA’s arsenal, and he still is, but he cannot run away from what time could do to the human body.
Bourne’s retirement is ended when Nicky Parsons shows up in one of his prize fights and tells him she has recently hacked the CIA which confirmed her suspicions that the black ops programs have not stopped, it has been upgraded to use the Internet to spy on anyone and anywhere tossing privacy rights out the window. On top of this, Nicky discovers a crucial piece of information about Jason that goes deeper than him volunteering for the black ops program which what got him involved in this mess to begin with.
To save the agency from another embarrassing expose, CIA Director Robert Dewey played by action legend Tommy Lee Jones sends the Asset, played by Vincent Cassel, to track down and eliminate both Nicky and Jason. From there the film follows Bourne as he is pursued by the Asset across Europe re-visiting the familiar places seen in the first three films. All the good elements that made the Bourne franchise a big success was present to re-establish that Jason Bourne is back and he is as formidable as before: the white knuckle brawls, the chase scenes across crowded public places, the cat-and-mouse game with the Asset and the CIA and how Jason always manages to be either a step ahead of his enemies or to escape from their clutches.
At first, it felt disappointing as all these have been done and seen before in the first three Bourne films. When the end credits started to roll, it felt that there was something missing and I asked a few times, ‘That was it?‘Then I realised that Jason Bourne was meant to re-establish the titular character and make him fit in with the present times that as more and more people are going online, issues like privacy, freedom of expression and safety take on a whole new meaning when the enemies we thought we knew turn out to be the ones we’ve been trusting like the government, our friends, even our loved ones as when Jason found out that the black ops program that ruined his life and has taken the lives of many innocent was created by his own father.
The most refreshing bit was Jason’s attitude towards the new character of Heather Lee, the CIA analyst who followed in the footsteps of Pamela Landy and basically helps out for Bourne from inside the agency that is out to retire him for good – he doesn’t trust her even after the help she’s given him. Which is a good thing as Bourne held on to the notion of staying off the grid and away from the CIA. He has clearly learned the lesson: trust no one but yourself. On hearing Heather’s invitation to come back in and be part of the CIA once more, Bourne’s answer of “Let me think about it.” spoke volumes about the possibilities of what the future has for character, the story and the franchise.
We’ll we see another Bourne film after this one? I’m positive we will. Jason Bourne may have not raised the bar for the franchise which was set so high by the first three films, it has clearly accomplished its mission of re-establishing the character, bringing him up to speed with our current times and has shown Matt Damon can still kick ass.