Jason Bourne Has a Tight, Compelling Script

Jason Bourne has a tight, compelling script from director Paul Greengrass and film editor Christopher Rouse, script elements missing from many current epics on the modern silver screen. Matt Damon is not this writer’s favorite actor, but he gets high marks here, embracing the character’s search for and through his past. It nicely bridges the four-year gap between the previous and also excellent Jeremy Renner outing, The Bourne Legacy.

The first rule of assassination is always to kill the assassin, or in Lee Harvey Oswald’s case, kill the decoy purported to be the assassin. The Bourne series takes this to heart in a way that James Bond and the Terminator can’t. Get rid of the assassins; you have no film series.

The “hack” here “could be worse than Snowden,” sayeth an advisor, timely in how the film’s release coincides with Russia not only hijacking DNC documents but handing them over to Wikileaks. Could it be a plot to sell theater tickets? The dark masters in Jason Bourne have got even more monitoring screens up and running than both Edward Norton in Bourne Legacy and William Baldwin in Sliver put together. It’s a massive re-creating of 1993’s The Fugitive film – a bizarre fourth chapter after U.S. Marshals and Double Jeopardy (DJ not being an “official” Fugitive movie, but you know that Ashley Judd is just a female Harrison Ford in that excellent flick.) Well, the Twitter-sphere is ablaze with the obvious, that this is The Fugitive meets Jason Bourne twenty-three years later, kind of like merging Alien with Predator. And why not? The first weekend out it’s a hit, and the terrific acting from all involved indicates a combination of relish and enthusiasm, and that’s what making a good flick should be all about

The “purists” – and what is a “Jason Bourne purist?” – May disagree with me; they may feel that the trilogy is sacrosanct From Identity (2002,) to 2004’s Supremacy, 2007’s Ultimatum and 2012’s Legacy I do not have an emotional attachment to the series and find the entire thread just plain great entertainment. The buzzing on the internet may disagree, which makes for good conversation, but all sequel-ism aside, this is an excellent motion picture on its own.

You do not need to have viewed previous entries to get what’s going on here. Jason Bourne is a movie that explains the history without putting its audience through the tedious chore that is seeing Spiderman’s origin yet again, or how the Fantastic Four got their powers (isn’t that what destroyed every single FF film?) …you just get thrown into the maelstrom without having to know anything, heck, Operation Treadstone could be a new tire by Firestone and it would matter not to the viewer. There is a cringe moment at the beginning of the film when Matt Damon gets on yet another motorbike, the Evel Knievel slant as de rigueur as Thomas Crowne’s top hat or Dracula’s fangs. But it goes by quickly and gets a pass as it fits nicely into the storyline, so all is forgiven. For this part 5 is not about the inevitable car chase that follows the bike chase, it is about Tommy Lee Jones prying into your bedroom like some Matrix agent who read too much George Orwell and Aldous Huxley (Is Brave New World really 85 years old?…) in this realm where ultra-assassins are manufactured through the most gruesome of means, the government has become the villain and the assassin is, of course, as glorified in his forgiveness as the alcoholic that gets sober. Everyone loves a comeback story, and just because Jason Bourne has come back from murdering so many people is what makes this series so violent, so violent that the audience is desensitized to that sub-plot. The guns are a mere backdrop, the killing just a flavoring, as are the cars going against the traffic a la the Matrix series and the soon-to-be sci-fi classic Lucy. Blatant about the clichés that are also just a backdrop to the central theme, which I’ve hinted at here but, well… you’ll have to see the full movie to get the punchline. It’s timely, it’s well done and it sets the stage for more of these tuned-up creatures to come out of the woodwork. Perhaps Jeremy Renner will be re-enlisted to help Jason on his next misadventure?

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.