Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2016. Captivate Entertainment, Double Negative, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Pearl Street Films, Perfect World Pictures (Beijing). Screenplay by Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse, based on characters created by Robert Ludlum. Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd. Produced by Matt Damon, Gregory Goodman, Paul Greengrass, Frank Marshall, Ben Smith, Jeffrey M. Weiner. Music by David Buckley, John Powell. Production Design by Paul Kirby. Costume Design by Mark Bridges. Film Editing by Christopher Rouse. Washington Film Critics Awards 2016.
It’s been a while since the world’s toughest amnesiac was on the big screen, and since the detour with his colleague didn’t set screens on fire with The Bourne Legacy, they’ve brought original star Matt Damon back in to revive the series. After trusty sidekick Julia Stiles informs Bourne that a new, dirty training operation akin to the one he previously uncovered is being cooked up by an even dirtier CIA director (Tommy Lee Jones), her merely contacting him gets a world of agents on his tail including one (played by a surprisingly blank Vincent Cassel) who has a score to settle. Bourne travels from Athens (effectively recreating the protests at Syntagma Square), to Berlin, London and eventually Vegas, barely evading capture thanks to some nifty fighting skills and more than a few exciting car and motorcycle sequences, surveilled the entire time by Jones and his second in command (a more surprisingly weak Alicia Vikander), who may or not be fully in her boss’s pocket. The film is a great example of how strong Paul Greengrass is as a director, considering it has both the most derivative and nonsensical plot of all the Damon films, basically a retread of the previous tales with the added sinister element of social media, and yet is so engaging that it only intermittently comes up short as entertainment. Jones gives a career-low performance, his trademark twang and facial ticks a tired cover for a performance that is fully phoning it in, though the surroundings mean that neither he nor the rest of the cast can be held too responsible for their actions: the film’s attempt to take place in a gritty, realistic world of secrets and government lies, in which Greengrass pompously chooses only de-glamourzed location shots of lush places like Vegas and Athens, features a bad guy whose plans and ambitions are worthy of a Bond villain (not to mention his dialogue, like overtly discussing his evil plans with his henchmen, making him come off like The Manchurian Candidate without the veneer of self-aware humour). Leading them all is a bland protagonist who seems so preoccupied with proving that he’s not too old for the project that he barely registers a performance himself, merely muttering a few lines into his phone before launching into one of the many fights he trained so hard for, while the subplot involving his learning secrets of his own past involvement in the agency is even less interesting than he is. The film moves at a such a fun, slick pace and looks so good, though, that for some reason you won’t mind that you’ve seen better, though you also will never forget that you have.