WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Since we last met him, in 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, the rogue CIA hitman Jason Bourne has been off the grid, making a living bare-knuckle fighting in central Europe. But fellow ex-operative Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) tracks him down and draws him out of the shadows, with documents that could expose their former CIA bosses and their killer programmes.
When young CIA upstart Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) discovers that Jason Bourne is on the loose with the files, she persuades the Agency’s Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) to let her track him down and try to bring him in.
But Dewey, who’s trying to trick social media mogul Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) into feeding him the personal data of billions of internet users across the world, has other ideas.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Did anyone say Bourne Legacy? Aaron Cross, anyone? You wouldn’t even know that there’d been an intervening film in the franchise since Paul Greengrass directed Matt Damon in what was thought to have been the final film in a trilogy, nine years ago. What was meant to be Universal’s spin-off franchise appears to have been completely forgotten as the studio has returned to the actor-director pairing that last thrilled cinema-goers in 2010’s Iraq War drama, Green Zone.
Perhaps the title needed “is back” on the end, as the eponymous nature of the film simply announces the return of our favourite rogue CIA operative. Otherwise, it’s a somewhat unimaginative title for a fourth – or fifth – instalment of a franchise (without a Robert Ludlum novel to borrow a title from, perhaps writers Greengrass and his regular editor Christopher Rouse simply decided to target their creative juices elsewhere), and the film, like its title, similarly lacks a little imagination.
Yes, it tries to feel topical and relevant – but references to Edward Snowden related to leaking secret CIA files and questions about internet privacy seem a little obvious these days – while the introduction of another gruff CIA boss and another cute female operative seems to be trying to milk a well-worn, if successful formula.
But if a formula ain’t broke, why fix it?
If you can forget about the intricacies of the plot and its inherent predictability, Greengrass and Damon deliver what their audiences want – a thrilling two hour long chase scene with heart-pounding music (although not enough of the Bourne theme recognisable from its predecessors), close-ups and fast-cuts that make you feel part of the action, a quick-thinking and multi-skilled protagonist (quite possibly too quick thinking and multi-skilled, but that takes us back to the plot), a travelogue, a ruthless French super-assassin, a nemesis whose as slippery as she is sexy, one of the most mindlessly destructive car chases Las Vegas has ever seen and plenty of scope for a sequel – Aaron Cross anyone?