Certificate 12A, 123 minutes
Director: Paul Greengrass
Stars: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander
Jason Bourne is the fifth film in the Bourne series of films, and the fourth to star Matt Damon as the titular Bourne. The fourth film in the series, The Bourne Legacy (starring Jeremy Renner),which was the one which preceded this one, did not feature Bourne at all; it was more of a spin-off film on a related subject. This is the latest film to be based on the books by Robert Ludlum. Truthfully, only the first in the series was remotely close to the books; by this point the films have completely diverged from the source material.
The film opens with what appear to be flashbacks to when Jason Bourne was simply Captain David Webb, as he was being inducted into the Treadstone programme. Bourne is actually asleep, and these are his memories, as he is heading in a van to Tsamantas on the Greek border for a bare knuckle fight - one which he quite handily wins.
Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jason_Bourne_(film).jpgIn Reykjavik in Iceland, former CIA operative Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles, Silver Linings Playbook), who has featured in all three of the previous Matt Damon films, is now working for a hacker called Christian Dassault (Vinzenz Kiefer). The place she enters is a hacking camp where she seems to have reserved time on their computers. Using a piece of CIA technology (a Dubna 48K) dating back to the early 90s, she gains access to the CIA's mainframe and starts downloading files on various black ops programmes, starting with Treadstone and continuing up to the present with a new one, Iron Hand. In the Treadstone data, Nicky finds some information about Jason's father, Robert Webb, a deceased CIA analyst.
At the CIA in Langley, Virginia, cyber division head Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), is notified about the intrusion. The hack is shut down, but not before Nicky has downloaded all the files, although Lee manages to insert some malware into the download, as well as trace the attack to where it came from. The CIA discover who did the hack, and know that she has a connection to the missing Bourne. Nicky is tracked to Greece and teams are sent to find her - and Bourne if possible. Lee wants to be in charge of the operation, and CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones, Men in Black 3, The Family) agrees, although probably not for the same reasons.
Dewey also contacts someone in Rome, who is only ever referred to as "The Asset" (Vincent Cassel, Trance) and tasks him with going to Greece as well in order to locate Bourne - and kill him. The Asset bears a grudge against Jason, as he was compromised when the latter released information on the operation that succeeded Treadstone, Blackbriar. Which did not lead to happy memories for him. The Asset is also a monumentally ruthless killer. During the course of the film he kills an awful lot of people, and probably injures even more, almost none of whom were actual targets, simply bystanders and, sometimes, allies, who happened to be in the way.
In Silicon Valley in California, Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler), the CEO of Deep Dream Corporation, is also informed about the hack. He is concerned that details related to Deep Dream may get out. The company - which seems to be some sort of social media platform - received money from the CIA, in return for which it supplies data to them from their users - and there are over a billion users worldwide. Dewey wants to get even more information from the users (evidently he hasn't realised that many people post just about everything about themselves online anyway, so you don't need backdoors), but Kalloor is unhappy about how the relationship (supposedly a secret one, yet he has public meetings with the director of the CIA) has progressed, and wants out. Dewey is not interested in what Kalloor wants.
Bourne spots Nicky at another bare knuckle fight, this time in Athens, and quickly ends the match. She wants to meet him in front of the Greek parliament building, where there is a demonstration going on. Quickly realising that the CIA has tracked Nicky, Bourne attempts to get her out of there as the demonstration degenerates into a riot. the Asset is also tracking them and, in the ensuing chase through the streets of Athens, Nicky is killed - but not before she gives Bourne a locker key. Inside the locker is a USB drive containing the files she stole, and to decrypt them Bourne heads to Berlin.
Dewey believes that Bourne plans to release all the new black ops data just like he did with Blackbriar's, and wants him dead. Lee, having read up on the case, believes that Bourne can be brought back into the programme, and wants instead to meet with him. Dewey allows this, but he has his own plans and his reasons for them. Lee is closer to the truth than Dewey is; Bourne is not, strictly speaking, out for revenge this time. Instead he wants to find out about his past (which will probably lead to revenge) and follows a trail that leads him next to London and then to Las Vegas.
The film consists of a number of fight scenes, as Bourne quickly demolishes various opponents (although generally not fatally) and some major action scenes, specifically car chases through a riot in Athens and through the streets of Las Vegas. These are all pretty decent to watch, and sometimes spectacular, but don't really seem to be connected by much in the way of a plot. This also affects some of the lesser characters. Jason Bourne, Heather Lee and Robert Dewey all have important roles, but many of the lesser characters - such as Nicky, Dassault and Malcolm Smith (Bill Camp) - seem to be there simply to provide a little bit of information in order to proceed to the next set piece. Something which could have as easily been handled with a note, although there wouldn't have been as much action then. The characters often seem to lack a reason to exist or motivations for what they do in themselves; Dassault in particular has very poor development for what could have been a significant character.
Bourne himself suffers from a lack of characterisation to a degree, at least in the early part of the film. Yes, he's taking part in bare knuckle matches, but why? He has no apparent motivation; it isn't even suggested that he's competing for money. In the second of the fights, Bourne was deliberately letting the other fighter win, but for no known reason. This gives the impression that something is missing. The Asset also suffers from problems, as he is needlessly violent. He is presumably some sort of specialist, but he kills a lot more people than would appear to be necessary, which is hardly the way to remain stealthy. Although Jason Bourne is fun to watch and has some nice scenes, it does start to fall apart a bit when it is thought about.