Jason Bourne returns in “The Bourne Redundancy”
Now let me say first that I’m a major fan of Matt Damon and his “Jason Bourne” movies. But the above title is a direct quote from Damon himself.
While doing publicity for “The Bourne Ultimatum,” an interviewer asked if he’d do another “Bourne” movie. He said, “You’d have to call it ‘The Bourne Redundancy’ at this point.” Why? Because there wasn’t much more you could do with the character in the context of his amnesia.
And he was right.
“Jason Bourne” opening chase brings back memories
“Jason Bourne” begins by establishing Bourne on the outs, hiding from civilian life. Then he gets a message from Nicky Parsons, the only other character besides Bourne to make it into all four Damon-led movies.
A really cool chase occurs during a riot in Greece in which Bourne and Parsons evade CIA operatives on a motorcycle.
The chase itself is like the one in “Ultimatum” on the streets of Tangiers, whereas the outcome mirrors the start of “Supremacy.”
Stock antagonists from previous “Bourne” movies
Every “Bourne” movie has three antagonists, all based out of the CIA. One starts as an antagonist, but “figures Bourne out,” sympathizes with him, and ultimately aids him.
Meanwhile, that character’s boss is an evil bastard with an authoritarian view on security who just wants Bourne dead.
Said evil bastard hires an “asset” (read assassin) to make Bourne dead.
“Jason Bourne” doesn’t disappoint/ alter this dynamic. At all.
Alicia Vikander (a.k.a. the latest Lara Croft Tomb Raider) plays the sympathetic antagonist. At least she shows a bit of duplicity against the norm, but her function is the same regardless.
Tommy Lee Jones plays the evil bastard. And he’s really a prick, strong-arming a Google-like entrepreneur while hunting Bourne. But where this should have been an ode to Jones’s other famous hunter Sam Gerard from “The Fugitive,” Jones simply phones it in, letting the craggle of his features carry the weight of his acting.
Vincent Cassel, a notable French actor, plays the asset. Like Karl Urban before him in “Supremacy,” he’s got an emotional tie to Bourne, but it’s given such short thrift it comes off more as comic book one note than three-dimensional.
It’s the writing, stupid
Notably absent from this family reunion feature is writer Tony Gilroy. He was with the franchise from “The Bourne Identity” when Doug Liman, not Paul Greengrass, was the series director.
Greengrass, who led “Supremacy” and “Ultimatum,” co-wrote this latest entry with Christopher Rouse. Rouse served as editor on “Supremacy” and “Ultimatum.”
Now the editor is a major part of crafting the story we see on-screen, but this is Rouse’s first time in the writer’s chair. I can’t imagine he’s a Tony Gilroy, rather, a good cribber of Gilroy’s rhythms and pacing.
Perhaps if the team would pull away from the “Bourne has a secret from his past that the CIA doesn’t want him to know” thing, they could also move away from the “Bourne” tropes and situations I mentioned above.
“The Force Awakens” rule and the future of “Bourne”
In one weekend, “Jason Bourne” made half of “Identity’s” total lifetime earnings. It’s the second largest opening weekend behind “Ultimatum.” And, despite the re-used tropes, it’s an exciting, fun movie.
Damon delivers once again in the lead, and is probably in the best shape he’s ever been over his fourteen years in the role.
I equate it to what I’ve dubbed, “The Force Awakens” rule. You crib from the best elements of the movies the fans liked so you don’t piss them off.
Worked to the tune of a billion dollars for “Star Wars,” so is it really wrong?
Or does it just create lazy, expensive fan films?
“Jason Bourne” sets up for future “Bourne” films. Maybe they’d benefit from a non-CIA villain and a plot that takes Bourne into Jack Bauer/ “Spooks” territory.
I’d be a fan of adapting part of the plot from the second Robert Ludlum Book, “The Bourne Supremacy,” in which another Jason Bourne surfaces and the real Bourne has to take him down to save himself from being targeted.
Just thinking out loud.