Firstly, let me set the record straight. I’m a huge fan of the original Bourne films — Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum. I genuinely believe that the Bourne series of films redefined the concept of action and adventure in movies. Gritty, sleek and heart-pounding, action, in Bourne films, felt a necessary part of narrative — than the only part or the unwanted part. They were what Bond films or the Mission Impossible series of films could only aspire to be. That’s why I included them in my list of the greatest films of the 21st century. That’s also why ‘Jason Bourne’ was among my most anticipated films of this year.
Then, I watched ‘Jason Bourne’! All the hopes and expectations came crashing down in the first few minutes of the film.
From the get go I realized that director Paul Greengrass and actor Matt Damon were not looking to set new milestones; they were just looking to follow the template, repeat the formula, play it safe. As a result, ‘Jason Bourne’ feels like a cheap copy of the original Bourne films. And usually, copies never match originals. So, while the original Bourne films are laced with taut suspense and thrilling drama, ‘Jason Bourne’, despite filled with some high-octane action scenes, feels feeble and half-hearted. Greengrass and Damon completely missed the point that it’s not action but the adrenaline-inducing, sharp and intelligent writing that made the original films work. ‘Jason Bourne’, in comparison, lacks nuance — so much so that I feel even ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’ is a better film than this version of Bourne.
There are chase sequences, fist fights, high speed biking in the film; but without the backing of a solid screenplay, all of them lack bite. You soon get disinterested with what’s happening on-screen. And frankly, there’s not much happening anyway. In terms of story, there’s not much to hold on to. I was surprised how simple and straightforward the whole plot is. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let me put it this way: there are no twists, no turns, no big reveals, no elements of surprise. Absolutely nothing! At places, it even felt more like a Fast and Furious movie than a Bourne movie.
Matt Damon, as an actor, leaves no stone unturned to make it work. He is exceptional as in other previous Bourne films. Tommy Lee Jones is reliably good and so is Vincent Cassel. But, there’s one rotten apple among the cast members .. and that’s this year’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Alicia Vikander. She is such a miscast that I couldn’t believe my eyes. With a deadpan, wide-eyed expression, she couldn’t bring the toughness that this role required. You only have to look at Jessica Chastain in ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ to understand Vikander’s acting in the film leaves a lot to be desired.
When I entered the theater, I was expecting nothing less than a thrilling experience. I came out feeling massively disappointed. May be my very high expectations ruined the film for me. May be not.
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