Jason Bourne: film review

 

Matt Damon returns to our screens again as the enigmatic anti-hero of the cult Bourne series: Lucy Begbie’s film of the week

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A detached rough shaven haunted Bourne (Matt Damon), mechanically and deftly defeats his opponent, in what appears to be an illegal boxing match. Bets that have been placed are recovered, and Bourne rapidly returns to the back of the transit van that deposited him there at the scene, and departs in a flurry of dust.

For those of us Bourne fans who have followed the film series obsessively – this is the fifth instalment – the opening is a neat visual summation of what has gone before, and of the series’ enduring themes – the lone outsider pitting himself against evil, real or constructed, on a quest to discover his true identity.

We need no prompting that this is Jason Bourne former CIA agent who can take out his adversaries at a blow. But it is also a reminder of the double life of the assassin. Nowhere is this more explicit than in Matt Damon’s harried screen presence as David Webb, alias Jason Bourne – a man forced to go off grid since previously uncovering the black operations of the CIA Operations Treadstone and Blackbriar.

Struggling with amnesia, and a mistrust of his former employers, he is lying low on the Greek/Albanian border making a living as a bare-knuckle boxer, until he is contacted by Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) former CIA operative. She has hacked into CIA files and discovered information about Bourne’s recruitment and his father, and she thinks Bourne should know.

The pair arrange to rendez-vous at Syntagma Square in Athens, but are tracked down by Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), Head of CIA Cyberops, using high levels of surveillance, and at the behest of ruthless CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) –  and so the high-octane narrative progresses.

Once again the Bourne formula is successfully employed by screenwriter and director Paul Greengrass, and film editor Christopher Rouse. Car and motor bike chases amidst exciting capital cityscapes and crowd scenes, with gripping soundtrack from John Powell, has the film goer reeling back from the big screen.

Of course we’ve seen it all before, but it still has impact. And what’s more Bourne is finally getting closer to the truth.

Yes, in the aftermath of the Edward Snowden and Wikipedia leaks affair, this is a timely film – working its dark magic of paranoia about  intelligence agencies and their surveillance of citizens, all around about its audience.

Alternative reviews can be found at:

http://www.the guardian.com.uk/film

http://www.empireonline.com

http://ww.nytimes.com/section/movies

 

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