Year of Release: 2016
Director: Paul Greengrass
Screenplay: Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse, based on characters created by Robert Ludlum
Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed
Running Time: 123 minutes
Genre: Thriller, action
Back in 2002, The Bourne Identity, based on the 1980 novel by Robert Ludlum, was hailed as a breath of fresh air for the spy movie genre, which at that point was completely dominated by the increasingly irrelevant and fantastical James Bond films. Instead this was gritty, pertinent and realistic. It was followed by The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) and The Bourne Legacy (2012), the odd one out of the series in that the character of Jason Bourne does not appear.
This film, the fifth in the series, and the fourth to feature Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, takes up from the end of The Bourne Ultimatum. Jason Bourne is living off the grid, making money with illegal fighting, when he is alerted by hacker Nicky Parsons (Stiles) of the existence of files, concerning Bourne's identity and the truth behind his father. This kicks off a globe trotting quest for the truth, from Athens to Berlin, to London, to Las Vegas, however Bourne is being pursued by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Jones) who wants him dead and the ruthless hired killer, The Asset (Cassel). Bourne's only help comes from CIA Cyber Ops agent Heather Lee (Vikander).
This is a tense, exciting thriller. Director Paul Greengrass has a background in current affairs, and television docu-dramas, and that can be seen in his extensive use of fast cutting, and constantly moving, hand-held style of shooting, this can be very distracting in dialogue scenes, but it adds a real intensity and physicality to the film's action scenes. And this has some of the best action scenes of any film this year. The chase through an anti-austerity demonstration in Athens is memorable, but a car chase through Las Vegas is fantastic. A big theme in the film is surveillance, and Greengrass' style does work for that, with the camera zooming and moving back and forth to find the characters in a crowd, does seem at times like it is footage filmed through a spy camera. However, I would warn you to be careful, if you're prone to headaches or motion sickness.
The film's main problem is the impassivity of Matt Damon as Bourne, never really showing much emotion beyond impatience, it's hard to really care much about him, when he never really seems particularly fazed by anything. Alicia Vikander is good as the sympathetic agent, but for the most part she doesn't really have much to do. Tommy Lee Jones is effective though as the avuncular but murderous CIA Director.