After the poorly received “Bourne Legacy” introduced Jeremy Renner into the Bourne universe, most thought the franchise was played out. Both original star Matt Damon and respected directed Paul Greengrass deciding to move on.
But as Sean Connery famously said, “Never say, never again”, both star and director are here reunited, does the chemistry still work?
Starting with a brief catch up summary, we meet Bourne eking out a crappy off grid living, beating up muscled types in bare knuckle fights in Greece, no soft security consultancy work for Bourne.
Our more real life James Bond, has never really been about sensible detailed plots, as always there are shadowy goings on with the previous covert Ops Treadstone, Blackbriar and the CIA director’s “Dewey” (Tommy Lee Jones) desire to keep them that way.
This film recognises the new world phenomenon of digital whistle blowers like Snowden and Assange and attempts to shoehorn that trend into this universe. Arguably Bourne has always been about hitting people, preferably with bits of furniture, rather than laptop keys.
Drawn back into the spiders web of conspiracy by “Nicky Parson” (Julia Stiles providing franchise continuity) we are thrown headlong into a riot in Greece, followed by a chase all of which is filmed in the directors usual headlong rush steadicam style.
Moving to Berlin, London and latterly Las Vegas, Bourne is hunted by the “Asset” (Vincent Cassell) who proves a worthy adversary. He forms part of the seemingly endless expendable resource able to be thrown against our “hero” at a moments notice, no matter which city he pops up in.
There are plot holes, confused motivations, a liberal sprinkling of “who am I” and what did my father really say and do but these are all largely devices to enable Greengrass and Damon to do what they do best, action sequences.
On that score the film does not disappoint, the denouement is one of the best “real” sequences seen for some time, surely single handedly re-invigorating the car-making industry in one extended scene.
The film adds CIA expert “Heather Lee”, Alica Vikander who seems to be in everything these days, not that we are complaining, not only a great actor but beautiful, intelligent and looking as good as ever, despite a rather odd accent. Damon is as reliable as usual, perhaps on this occasion fighting against a thin story but also appearing more and more out of place in this increasingly digital world.
The film also attempts relevance by tying in a silicon valley billionaire type, a hybrid of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg drawn to the shadowy world as part of a new software roll out, “Deep Dream”. Tommy Lee Jones looking older than ever and despite his involvement in the scheme, clearly not knowing his USB port from a VM farm.
The film certainly leaves space for the franchise to continue should the participants wish, initial box office suggests there is a moderate desire for more. However, a sensible conclusion to the character arc will be needed to ensure this does not become just an action sequence show reel.
Despite the lacklustre story, this provides a loose backdrop onto which original Bourne actor and director can display their usual excellent action sequences
Exciting tense and providing the usual thrills, despite the shortcomings and lack of any real “but why…”