Thanks to Tegan Johns and Event Cinemas, Innaloo, I attended a preview screening of Jason Bourne, the hotly anticipated new entry in the Bourne franchise.

This was a ‘Black Carpet’ affair – an opening on a grand scale, with the issuing of entry tags on lanyards, photos in front of a promotional backdrop and a specially filmed intro. from the man himself – Matt Damon.

Does it live up to expectations?  For once, yes!  And then, some.  You need a tight seat-belt for this one because, as was expected, there’s little pause in the action.

See you in the dark, Phil.


Ludlum’s kinetic spy ‘re-Bourne’

U.S.A. : 123 mins : PG-13                          4/5

After the diversion of The Bourne Legacy in 2012, Jason Bourne sees Paul Greengrass back at the helm (and co-writing, along with Christopher Rouse) and Matt Damon returning to the role he has made his own.  Also starring are Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassell.

With his memory restored, it seemed that the Bourne saga had come to an end.  But, with a degree of ingenuity the production team has succeeded in a high-octane resurrection which begins with some bridging scenes from the end of The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) to show that Jason Bourne is its direct sequel.  This time, the plot deals with secrets about the forging of his own identity and the demise of his father that were hidden from him by the CIA, right from the beginning.

But Greengrass and Rouse have hit the target by grounding the new film in a context of great concern in real-life America – the constant and growing government surveillance of everyday citizens (and the invasion of their privacy).  In effect, the Director of the CIA, Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and the whole establishment assumes the persona of a corporate villain while, on a personal level, a suitably venomous Vincent Cassel is Agent Asset, in hot pursuit of the hero.  Bourne is a lone crusader with physical strength and knowledge but who is now armed with enough Top Secret information of the CIA’s systematic killing programme to threaten its very existence.

Giving Jason Bourne even greater contemporary potency is the inclusion of a whistle blower named Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) who is a technical wizard but is unwilling to assist the authorities in duping the public.  Kalloor is obviously modelled on the real-life figure of Edward Snowden (he is mentioned several times in the film and his dramatic revelations of government surveillance were featured in the 2014 documentary, Citizenfour).

Matt Damon gives Bourne just the right sense of dour, steely resolve and a resolute moral core.  Tommy Lee Jones has a face that has always looked weather beaten but, here, it has taken on an extra cragginess and he looks every bit as though he has the weight of the world on his weary shoulders.  But (with the appealing performance from Julia Stiles, as Agent Nicky Parsons, coming to a premature end) it is the beguiling Alicia Vikander, in the role of CIA Agent, Heather Lee, who is the real anchor point in the cast.  In spite of a script that hardly allows her to breathe life into her character, Vikander has just enough toughness to make her appointment to the top job feasible and (as the final scenes may imply) she looks set to play a major part in the next Bourne instalment, should there be one.

Greengrass is an impressive director, especially of action on a huge scale and, in Jason Bourne, the scene of a mass riot in the streets of Athens, with Bourne, frantically pursued on a motor-bike, is virtually a master-class demonstration.  The air is thick with flame red smoke and there is an almost palpable sense of chaos with panic just a heartbeat away.  Later in the film, Greengrass again opens the throttle (but less effectively) in the chase through the streets of Las Vegas.  Here, Asset engages Bourne in a frenetic (but utterly implausible) pursuit that sees cars tossed into the air like toys and the biggest assemblage of wrecked vehicles outside of a car scrap yard.

These are high points in a film that maintains tension and excitement almost without pause for the best part of two hours (aided by the signature, repetitive soundtrack).  Even though the hero’s invincibility brings him close to self-parody, Jason Bourne is pure escapist fare which doesn’t get much better than this.

Phil. 27.07.16.  pbsailing@yahoo.com.au

(Jason Bourne will screen at Event Cinemas from Thursday, 28th July. Check at eventcinemas.com.au or the press for details).

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