when i saw the trailer for jason bourne during the superbowl i eee’d so hard dogs in a three state radius started barking. this is one of my favorite movie franchises, and while the 4th movie was not that bad honestly, matt damon IS jason bourne and having him back was the most exciting thing in the world. this iteration of the series is not the best of all of them, but i really did like it quite a lot.
below, in the spoilers, is thoughts.
this was a slower pace for a bourne movie. that wasn’t a bad thing, and it gave the action sequences more weight, but it was different. the mix for this film of the theme, Extreme Ways, was even slower, which was appropriate. there’s been a very mixed reaction to this movie as far as i can tell, and i wonder how much of it is this issue of unmet expectations. it’s hard to say that there’s exactly a Bad Guy in this movie, maybe apart from the Asset, just a bunch of people with conflicting motivations, which is cool and different.
bourne starts the movie saying he remembers everything and then immediately is presented with something he didn’t remember. pretty cocky, bourne. we know literally nothing about david webb, let alone his father, so the “revelation” that elder webb created treadstone was a lot less impactful than some of the other bourne revelations. he found out his son had been recruited and i guess that made him realize his program was awful and terrible because he got himself blown up for threatening to go public.
theres no way, by the way, that bourne remembers a face in a car behind his dad’s flaming van. memory is not a hard drive we can go look things up in. i’m willing to hop along for the ride and let that go because memory is infallible in a lot of movies, and it’s integral to this franchise, just a pet peeve. your memory is terrible and always reconstructed when you recall something.
tommy lee jones is excellent as director dewey and so is whoever played his protege, i think she was Lee? jason bourne is, ironically, more about their relationship and how bourne’s next big villain comes into power at the CIA than it is about bourne learning about his father and then going after those responsible. i think that works, because all the old relationships are worn out in the franchise, and you can’t keep making the same movie over and over. other people will again have let down expectations. so it goes and i don’t think your opinion is bad or wrong. so let’s follow her arc because her motivations confused some:
- notices when jason bourne resurfaces and gets herself on the operation, presumably because it’s a really important one for the agency, for her own career path, you know. it’s against dewey’s wishes despite his fake support, but asked directly to a Real Important Suit so he has no choice.
- leads a mission to try to bring bourne down but dewey just kind of takes over when shit gets real. this undermines her ambitions.
- helps bourne escape a team that wanted to kill him and convinces the Real Important Suit, again in front of and against the wishes of dewey, to let her try to bring him in willingly.
- when she tries this dewey literally has her people killed. this not only undermines her, it directly threatens her.
- i’m not sure if she already plans to have dewey actually killed at that point or not, but she helps bourne get to vegas. she sees at this point that he’s at least malleable, and she sees more future with him than with dewey at the very least.
- after the asset opens fire at the conference it should have become extremely clear to lee what was happening, and she was absolutely not going to stand by and let her pal the founder and CEO of Google get killed for having a conscience, even if he looked down on her decisions now. if she didn’t already want dewey dead she did now because she knew what that relationship was.
- dewey’s last act is to try to literally steal lee’s plan to have bourne come in willingly. i don’t know how much if any of that conversation lee ex machina would have been able to hear, but it’s poetic justice that he was instantly offed for that.
- she lobbies, and then quietly presses, the Real Important Suit who has always liked her ideas in this movie to let her take dewey’s vacated spot. she tries to bring bourne in again, which would really give him no choice to be honest, and he outclasses her. a new storyline is ready to go. the CIA director’s entire purpose for being promoted is to bring in bourne. bourne knows it, and knows they’ll turn around and decide to kill him if he refuses outright. she is set up to be the new nemesis in a future movie. YAY MORE BOURNE
the movie is called jason bourne, and has a tantalizing plot going on about whether he could have any identity outside being a badass spy assassin, but ultimately leaves those questions unanswered. even his final “let me think about it” was part of the whole outclassing Lee thing. he is trying to just find answers and “find a different way” as he tells dewey, but as dewey points out, that’s not working for him. he’s got another person at gunpoint. there was a time when he could exist independently, before marie was killed in Supremacy. this time he had to resort to the fighting ring. where he allows himself to take pretty heavy beatings sometimes just so he can stay sharp at still winning those fights. that’s training, that isn’t living. but Lee? that’s a character arc. she changes.
so who is jason bourne is left unanswered, but we learn all about the next big threat to him, who he may only define himself in opposition to. if he keeps turning her down she’ll eventually have to have him killed right?
yeah deep dream or whatever that tech company is called is really clearly google. imagine google+ took off to compete with facebook and that IS google. all the way down to getting its start from funding provided by US intelligence and the DoD and providing the government with information through IRONFIST erm i mean PRISM, and even the part where it outright refuses military funding, like when it pulled ATLAS and SCHAFT from the DARPA competition. The founders of Google were even Stanford grads for chrissakes, just like this guy whose name wasn’t Alex Killorn but that’s what i always heard. anyway, there’s extremely heavy-handed theme work done in these side plots about freedom vs. privacy, but i was too busy enjoying the google parallels to get too annoyed about that. and it was positively subtle next to batman v superman’s themes shouted as dialogue anyway so hey! positive steps.
the final sequences with bourne vs. asset were great i thought. the timing may not be ideal to have a scene with a swat van plowing through a crowded road with Nice having been not that long ago, but at least this was just cars. their fight was the only really visceral moment of the movie which gave it that much more impact, but it wasn’t boring in the run-up to it so it was worth it for me.
the asset himself seems a little thin of a character. he’s just some scary bogeyman. but that’s fine because he functions as a tool of dewey’s. he serves no purpose other than to do what dewey wants. when bourne finally dispatches him it’s more like tying up a loose end than anything else. it’s not the big OMG FINALLY villain engagement you see in movies like mission impossible, and while it’s maybe the final fight’s climax the movie’s climax is long past, it happened in the hotel room. i like that about this movie. others may not and their opinion is also not bad or wrong.
finally, a sour note: movie uses the Friendly Out Of Nowhere That Shoots The Guy You Thought Was Going To Shoot The Hero cliche. come on, man, you are a much better franchise than that. what the hell, this isn’t CSI: Langley. oh and while i’m on the sour note subject, in the opening scene, why is the line “use SQL to infiltrate the database” subtitled? it’s a meaningless, contextless line. “use SQL to infiltrate” is like “break in with a crowbar” being subtitled as someone visibly breaks into a warehouse. thanks tips.
jason bourne is flawed, its focus is not what you may expect, but i really liked it as a slower-paced but still exciting action movie. Ultimatum is still the best bourne movie so far, but this one was also very good.