Jason Bourne (2016)

Private Rights, Public Safety:

Jason Bourne




The shadow of Edward Snowden lies over Jason Bourne.  In fact, the ex-CIA computer wiz and whistle blower is specifically referenced twice by Christopher Rouse and director and co-writer Paul Greengrass in the latter’s third helming of the now five-film franchise.  And his shadowy presence is appropriate in a film that throws out one of today’s more serious questions:  how much of our basic freedoms and privacy do we give up in the fight to keep us safe from enemies of our countries and our way of life?

If you are the new Director of the CIA Robert Dewey (played by Tommy Lee Jones in a performance ramped up to Pure Malevolence) then you believe that everyone has to be watched at all times.

If you are the billionaire head of the social network site Deep Dream like Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) then you’re big on civil liberties and believe that ‘privacy is freedom’.  Unfortunately you are also compromised through having made a deal with the Devil – in the shape of Robert Dewey – early in your career; and that deal has come back to bite you hard on the ass.

If you are Heather Lee (played with a lovely subtlety by Alicia Vikander) then your motives are obscure and ambiguous.  As head of the CIA cyber division, are you a patriot…or is the reemergence of Bourne a chance to forward ambitions?

If you are Nicky Parsons (Julia Styles) then what you have learned from your past in the CIA makes you believe that people have a right to know the secrets of their rulers.  Especially when those forces that claim to be working for the people — as long as those people have blind, unquestioning obedience — have secrets that need to be exposed.

And Styles’ performance as the recurring character of Parsons has been one of the small pleasures in this series.  From the initial Bourne Identity where she was really little more than eye-candy to Jason Bourne where she has the frazzled, hunted demeanor of a woman for whom looking over the shoulder has become part of normal existence, this actress has been superb.

And in the middle of it all, of course, is Matt Damon as David Webb, but now and forever to be the character that he has become:  Jason Bourne, created by the CIA, yet shaped by circumstance, his own indomitable will and the legacy of his father.

The fourth outing – The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner– was a decent film in its own right; but it isn’t really referenced here and Jason Bourne is very much a direct sequel to the fine original trilogy.

(By the way, what is with that title?  I’ve never read the source books but I kinda like those imperative-sounding monikers they arrive with.  When I saw the simple but effective posters with that slogan – YOU KNOW HIS NAME – I was hoping for a catchy one like The Bourne Humidifier or The Bourne Tumbleweed-drier or something.

Hell, you might as well just call a movie  John Rambo or Rocky Balboa.  Who wants that?  The next Bond effort to be called James Bond?

That was an attempt at humour, in case it flew over your head there.)

Torn from Today’s Headlines!

Like its predecessors, this is an action film where action sequences – as good as they are – are the least interesting aspects. It is a series that remains at its core a character-driven drama.  I recall Greengrass saying once that he likes to keep these movies rooted in reality, in the world right outside our door.  And that is certainly true with this one.  A long sequence near the beginning takes place to the back ground of the Greek anti-austerity riots; and an over-the-top scene in Las Vegas bears a very uncomfortable resemblance to the recent mass murder in Nice.

Some critics think that a fifth Bourne was an unnecessary one.  I don’t agree.  They continue to remain at the very least interesting and at a push even rather important.  Our leaders do NOT have our welfare at heart and won’t be happy until they have complete control over every aspect of our lives.  Here in Ireland we only heard this week that our corrupt government intends to force waste companies to hand over details of their customers to them.  So even if one of these entertainments only reminds one of us not to trust the bastards, that’s all good.

My only real problem is throwing in a simple-minded revenge motive and, amidst all the high-tech mayhem, the settling of things with fist fights. Also — and let’s be honest here — even with a group as inept and shoddy as the CIA, Bourne would have been dead long ago.  Probably by accident, mind.

But that’s a small gripe.

Jason Bourne is a winner.







Author: Charley Brady

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