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Jason Bourne (AF)


Stars: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd, Bill Camp, Vinzene Kiefer, Stephen Kunken

Director: Paul Greengrass

If there’s one thing that Hollywood really, really loves it’s a sequel. After all, the key characters and the genre are already established and that means (or should mean) that the paying public already knows (or believe they know) just what they are getting and would like it.

Having created Bourne in The Bourne Identity in 2002 and reprised the role in two other movies, Matt Damon exited the series in 2012 leaving Jeremy Renner to star (as black ops agent Aaron Cross in one film (The Bourne Legacy).

After that it appeared that Damon had had his fill of the role.

“I thought I was completely at peace with the three movies, and I was so happy with how good they were and what the whole franchise had done for my career and my life” he told The New York Times in 2016.

But by then he was back, appropriately as ‘Jason Bourne’, again directed by Paul Greengrass, was scheduled to blast into cinemas.

Greengrass and cowriter Christopher Rouse deliver an efficient-enough screenplay whose key storyline – Bourne battling all over the world to survive being killed by hired assassin Vincent Cassel’s at the behest of crooked new CIA director Tommy (“There’s no bringing in Bourne – he has to be put down!” Jones.

And flashbacks to the murder of Bourne father help coast across unavoidable storyline lacunae

(Rouse, incidentally, doubles impressively as editor: his astute cutting, particularly of the rat-a-tat chase sequences, and deserves an Academy Award for giving a somewhat obvious storyline the adrenaline burst it needed).

Damon does what Bourne does (including an opening bout of bare-chested, bare-knuckle boxing in rural Greece) and does it capably in the face of a straightforward plot that, rightly adds action, action and more pulse pounding action and obvious suspense when the narrative loses conviction or interest in the characters start flagging.

Lee Jones, looking rugged enough to be transplanted straight onto Mount Rushmore without any additional stone sculpting, is suitably villainous, Cassel is suitably scary and boasting the additional menace of being a foreigner and female leads (or, in reality, there to to help showcase hero Damon) Alice Vikander and Julia Stiles are able enough doing what their cliched characters are supposed to do )and Silicon Valley 'star' Riz Ahmed comes to regret joining forces with Lee Jones.

It’s essentially ‘Around the World in 80 Slays’, with sequences shot in the Canary Islands (playing Greece), London, Berlin, Reykjavík, Berlin, Lebanon, Italy and Germany adding impact.

Two cracking chase sequences, one in London and, memorably, a slam-bang nerve-scraping car chase through Las Vegas, add to a no-strain-on-the-brain reboot that features plenty of visceral thrills and excitement while leaving the viewer’s intellect essentially in neutral.

While I can’t pretend that I’ll remember it for long, ‘Jason Bourne’ kept me watching at the time.

(Incidentally, the convention in Las Vegas that unites most of the players for the Bourne-is-best climax is shown to be taking place on October 20th - so could it all be happening in the future?)

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
124 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 Jul 2016