We've been through a lot since Jason Bourne was hauled out of the sea and krav maga'd his way to the truth. The best kind of trilogy that kept improving the formula each time it hurtled through our screens. Not only did it a bring a certain sophistication to what should have been a Friday-night-actioner, but Bond seemed to cower in the corner and decide to reinvent himself. The series was satisfyingly book-ended come the finale of the series: Bourne floating in water, under the pale blue moon. Only, in Ultimatum - against all odds - he kicked away and swam toward a well deserved future, no longer being chased by clandestine government agencies or his past.
Even the most die hard fans wondered why we needed another Bourne flick. What more could be added to the story that seemed perfectly complete?
Come the credit roll of Jason Bourne, the apparent answer is nothing. But that doesn't mean the new installment doesn't have something to bring to the party, even if it's the enjoyably familiar.
Bourne Ultimatum showed us that Paul Greengrass et al could deftly cut, paste and move the narrative around to fit another installment. The final moments of Bourne Supremacy happening halfway through Ultimatum. It was quite the narrative coup, not only did it serve to ramp-up the final act of Ultimatum, it was rewarding for those paying attention to the story.
Jason Bourne doesn't quite repeat this trick. Instead it uses Bourne's amnesia to slide in a pre-Treadstone origin that ties in his father and does a little more to explain just why Bourne was recruited in the first place.
Even the biggest apologists will have to admit that the reasoning to bring Bourne back out from the shadows is a bit of a stretch. When Treadstone/Blackbriar operations were blown open during the first three installments, how did anyone miss the involvement of Jason's dad? However, any excuse'll do to take another trip down the frenzied thriller of Bourne.
It's all still here. The immediacy of the moment. The kinetic cacophony of grabbed action and his pragmatic use of the environment to create the most efficient advantage. It's the same heady mix of thrilling excitement it always has been. There are some truly exciting set pieces leading up the Vegas showdown peeked at in the trailer. Even when we get there the stakes are raised so high with desperation you'll wonder where these vehicular dueling desperados will stop.
The difference is it does feel like its aged a little. Much like the the first time we're re-introduced to our hero, the movie feels a little grizzled. It's not that it's lost any of its potency, but after so long being caught in the fevered pace, and poor excuse to expand the universe in Legacy, it does feel a little tired. This isn't helped by the fact that Bourne is nigh monosyllabic. The slack left by any familiarity-fatigue would easily have been taken up by some character development or exploration into the effects of age. Instead we have the ever determined Jason, steely eyed and frowning through the majority.
Although not a slave to fans, this flick doesn't forget it's roots and there's even some cheeky echoes in amongst the convulsive action. There's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to the car chase in Ultimatum where, after being t-boned by an oncoming enemy vehicle, Bourne acts at the last minute and uses the smash in his favor. There's also a nod to the rolled up magazine in Supremacy when Bourne grabs a vagrant tea kettle. It all adds to the stalwart efforts of continuing the cannon set up in the originals.
Overall, this is just as much an extension of Ultimatum than it is introducing new blood into the franchise. Although, it's still the chaotic roller coaster it's always been and leaves the door open for some more wham-bam-smash.
4* - Will the real Bourne Legacy please stand up