“… It’s been reported that Webb was shot and fell from a Manhattan rooftop into the East River ten stories bellow. However, after a three day search, Webb’s body has yet to be found”. Cut from Julia Stiles franchise character, Nicky, smiling knowingly to Jason Bourne swimming away into the darkness of the East River. There’s a lot problems with Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon’s new film, Jason Bourne. And the ending to The Bourne Ultimatum is the biggest. When you end a trilogy as well as Paul Greengrass did with, The Bourne Ultimatum, the next film with Jason Bourne had better be meaningful to the character. There has to be a reason to make another movie.
Credit to Greengrass and the film makers behind Jason Bourne for trying to do exactly that. But, ultimately, Jason Bourne, never reaches the level of craft that Greengrass’s previous two Bourne films, Supremacy and Ultimatum has reached. Nor does it reach the meaning for the character that they were intending. Any meaning in Bourne finding out how the program that created him, Treadstone, got started was lost in Tommy Lee Jone’s CIA director, Robert Dewey’s meandering story against social media giant, Riz Ahmed’s Aaron Kalloor and the butting head of Alicia Vikander’s CIA cyber analyst, Heather Lee. This is another one of the problems with the story of Jason Bourne – Jason Bourne no longer affects the story. And this is what made the ensemble stories of Supremacy and Ultimatum work so well, ultimately, the Bourne series are chase movies – chasing after Bourne.
Julia Stiles’ Nicky Parsons comes out of the cyber underground in Europe after she manages to use an outdated CIA system to hack early digital files on Treadstone. She then seeks out Bourne, who’s wandering across Europe, from one underground fight to the next. Nicky, as always is the one that pushes Bourne in the direction he needs to go. And, to Stiles’ credit, for the little time she’s used in these films, she never gives up the screen to the extremely strong character actors she’s playing against. Credit to Greengrass for pushing the hope that Nicky represents to Bourne in that he can one day have a life into Bourne’s motivation for following the files she hacked.
Matt Damon has cemented his status as a one of the go-to character actors of today through the past nine years since the last Bourne film. And he’s never truly given his moment in Jason Bourne to showcase his talent. It’s alluded to in the beginning of the film that he’s wrestling with the identities of David Webb and Jason Bourne in his head in these underground fights, but the idea is never truly played out when Nicky comes back into his life with these documents about his past. But Nicky’s hacking has caught the attention of Heather Lee and Robert Dewey. Lee quickly establishes herself as smart and quick thinking by uploading Malware tracking into Nicky’s files and identifying Nicky herself. Vikander plays Lee as driven woman. When she tells Dewey that she can give him Bourne, you believe her. The saying every hero is only as good as his villain is a striking commentary to the film when you’re presented with Tommy Lee Jone’s Robert Dewey.
Tommy Lee Jone’s brings a credibility to Dewey that only Jones can. And plays him as a patriot who ultimately sees himself as the good guy. Idealism and patriotism helps to create truly chilling and strong villains. But, because of the convoluted story line with Dewey and the billionaire CEO of social media platform Deep Dream, Aaron Kalloor, Dewey comes across more as a man scrambling to keep his empire from crumbling. The true threat for this film comes from, Dewey’s asset, Vincent Cassel. Cassel is no stranger to brooding characters and brings everything he has in a character who immediately asserts himself as a threat for Bourne when he executes a man just so he can go after Bourne with a fiery relentlessness that you can truly believe. Riz Ahmed’s Aaron Kalloor is essentially the conscience for these characters as he plays a power game against Robert Dewey. Ahmed plays Kalloor with honesty and you can believe the choices that he makes as much as you can that he’s a Zuckerberg-type CEO.
Greegrass continues to shoot the Bourne franchise through his tightly framed, character-driven documentary shooting style. This style allows him to show how truly good Greengrass’s eye for tempo and action is. Despite the fact that you never get to appreciate the world that Jason Bourne is in – one of the few franchises that actually shoots where the story is located. This has worked for the franchise well in the past. But the film makers wanting to make craft action sequences for Jason Bourne the biggest yet combined with this shooting style ultimately leaves the film with scenes that are convoluted and hard to follow.
Ultimately, The Bourne Ultimatum is a far better ending to the Bourne franchise then Jason Bourne is. When you end a franchise as well as the film makers did in Ultimatum, any reason to bring that character back has to be as strong as waking up on a boat with no memory after being shot in the back. And Jason Bourne didn’t have that and ends up with three out of five stars. Greengrass has the rare problem of that he ended the originally trilogy so well, you’re left walking out of Jason Bourne thinking they never needed to make this film.