“There was never just one”, a neat way of explaining Matt Damon declining to sign up for this fourth entry in the series.
Aaron Cross (Renner), another enhanced operative for an even more secret government organisation “Outcome”. We meet him as he undergoes Alaskan training, the reason for which is never really explained, although we certainly know that taking his tablets is important and is required in a timely fashion.
It’s not long before Washington types decide that the program is in danger of being exposed potentially leading to further revelations of the “Blackbriar” and “Treadstone” programs. This cannot be tolerated and therefore “Outcome” has to go, including all of those involved.
This is essentially one of those movies where something is exposed, the top man demands “give us the room”, mere mortals leave, decisions are made and people start to die.
No sooner has Cross warmed up and caught his breath, he realises he has become surplus to requirements. A steady drone in the distance turns into a real drone on the horizon and the hunt begins.
Meanwhile, a diligent science lab technician Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Wiesz), vaguely acquainted with Cross following many medical checkup’s, finds herself part of the “ruthless downsizing”. Managing to join with Cross following a disturbing event at the laboratory, the two go on the lam searching for med’s to get Cross “viralled out”.
Edward Norton (Byer) and Stacy Keach fill the morally ambiguous program director type roles. A smattering of the cast from the previous films are also on hand to bring continuity to the series, albeit in blink and you miss em’ roles, step forward Joan Allen, John Glen, Albert Finney and David Strathairn.
Renner handles the action well but does not have Damon’s effortless screen presence. Wiesz only gets to look scared, out of her depth and freaked out and yet does that well as anyone, although the chemistry between the leads is lacking. Ed Norton makes a reasonable job of portraying someone quite prepared to make tough decisions, supposedly for the greater good, whatever that might be.
Unlike previous Bourne entries, the film as a whole does not work well. The dialogue is weak, notably a scene in an escaping car that turns into a shouting match. Far too much time is spent chasing the next tablet and the motivation and support for the “Outcome” organisation, remains as obscure as ever.
This is a film where the protagonists can disappear in Manila with no tracking device, Byer then deploys a dedicated large team to track them and seemingly within moments they are found. Phillipine police and SWAT teams are bashing in doors and yet no one officially knows anything in Washington.
Tony Gilroy takes over directing duties, as previous director Paul Greengrass had always stated three films was enough. Despite being involved with writing previous efforts, the step up to the role of director has not been as successful as many had hoped for Gilroy.
It could well be argued that this is just a film that did not need to be made, the three previous films were very successful and the character arc, arguably complete. Much like the continuation of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, the last vestige of art has been sacrificed at the altar of the dollar available from a built in audience.
A disappointing entry in the Bourne series, despite sterling efforts from the leads, with lacklustre direction, a weak story and only partially saved by excellent played for real stunt work.
Lets hope that Damon’s “Bourne” can be found and reunited, if this cinematic universe is to continue, preferably with a more competent director.