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Bourne to go wild

Jason Bourne is the fifth installment in the Bourne franchise, the fourth to star Matt Damon (as Jason Bourne, of course), the third directed by Paul Greengrass (also a producer and co-screenwriter with Christopher Rouse). It’s also among the weakest of the lot, a hollow extravaganza that attempts to plug its narrative deficiencies and simplicities with the stylish, slam-bang action that Greengrass specializes in.

The basic formula remains unchanged, only the bad guys change. When Bourne suddenly resurfaces at the behest of Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles in her fourth and likely last Bourne outing), the CIA immediately swings into action by tapping international assassin “the Asset” (Vincent Cassel) to take care of matters – which he tends to do with maximum property damage. So much for covert action.

With CIA flacks Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander keeping an eye on things from HQ, Bourne embarks on yet another globe-trotting adventure – Athens to Berlin to London to Las Vegas to Washington DC – all the while eluding capture and adding to Jones and Vikander’s woes and worries.

Damon, who has maybe 20 lines throughout the entire film, strides through the proceedings in tough, no-nonsense fashion. Jones puts his hound-dog scowl and wryly sinister line readings to good use, even if his character is a standardissue heavy. Newly-minted Oscar winner Vikander is miscast; she’s simply too young and glamorous to be playing a ruthless CIA big-wig. Cassel, a fine actor, basically plays a one-note thug.

Given the high standard set by Green grass in The Bourne Ultimatum (2004) and The Bourne Supremacy (2002) – both of which improved upon the original Bourne Identity (2002) – Jason Bourne can’t help but be considered a major disappointment. At heart, it’s simply a revenge film, with Bourne bent on retribution for the murder of his CIA-agent father (Gregg Henry, seen in flashbacks) years before.

There’s a tendency to milk every scene beyond what’s necessary, which doesn’t enhance the suspense but tends to do the opposite, and the inevitable ending offers a routine avenue for more sequels. No surprise there, nor many leading up to it. !

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