Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bourne Again

Reel To Reel: Jason Bourne

Going Rate: Worth matinee price
Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander
Rated: PG-13
Red Flags: Intense violence, mild language

Nearly a decade after the last Jason Bourne movie to actually feature Jason Bourne, Universal dusts off the series and recharges it. While it's great seeing Matt Damon back in the title role, and he delivers plenty of lightning-fast action, it feels like a remake of one of the first three Bourne films. Even though Bourne finally learns his identity in this one -- apologies if that's a mild spoiler -- many things are left unanswered simply because I figure we need some gas left in the tank for another couple of sequels.

We are reintroduced to Bourne as he makes scratch in brutal bare-knuckle fights the way Clint Eastwood used to do alongside Clyde the orangutan. Only Bourne doesn't waste time punching into the camera. The CIA is still looking for him and still can't catch him despite being wired into just about every camera on the planet along with a creepily ambiguous social network known as Deep Dream. Things start getting real when former CIA operative and Bourne confidant Nicky Parsons (Stiles) hacks into one of their servers and steals files outlining Treadstone. You'll recall it's that super-secret operation that created super-killers to terminate people the super-spooks didn't like in the name of national security.

CIA Director Robert Dewey (Jones) wants Bourne taken out, but he is getting pushback from cyber-ops topper Heather Lee (Vikander), a rising star who wants to be the point person on the operation. Lee is the kind of self-assured genius who could take a Keurig coffeemaker and reprogram it to track you from thousands of miles away. Dewey kicks it old school, dialing up an asset so secret we only know him as "Asset" (Vincent Kassel) and launches a covert operation to undercut Lee's op while terminating Bourne. Asset has his own motivation: Bourne's actions indirectly led to him being kidnapped and tortured.

We have a little bit of political intrigue. Dewey is chummy with Deep Dream's topper Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed), a middle-eastern mashup of Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. But mostly he fills screen time walking around and looking like a Silicon Valley rock star.

Jason Bourne doesn't try to get too ambitious. We go to Athens, Berlin and London between trips to D.C., but it's not the kind of serpentine travel we've seen in previous Bourne movies. But one thing hasn't changed: it seems the smarted the CIA assets get, along with their toys, Bourne can just outmuscle them. I wondered in my 2012 review of the Bourne-less The Bourne Legacy how a group of intelligence chiefs could have so much information and yet be so clueless. I thought the same thing here, but at least Tommy Lee Jones' character gets points for flipping the script.