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Jason Bourne is back, but the story takes a back seat

“Jason Bourne” (2016) – Four years ago, “The Bourne Legacy” arrived in theatres, and the hope was that it would – obviously - continue the legacy of the previous, three Bourne films. Unfortunately, it did not, because the story felt lackluster and mechanical, but more importantly, it did not include Matt Damon. Now, Jeremy Renner played a different secret agent, Aaron Cross, and he is certainly capable of properly filling an action role, but "The Bourne Legacy" simply did not feel like a Bourne movie. Just imagine a James Bond film, and it features Agent 008, instead. Quite frankly, I would only pay half the price of admission to see 008, Jasper Bail Bonds, track down the bad guys and save the world.

Based upon the title of the new Bourne film, “Jason Bourne”, one can breathe a sigh of relief that yes, Matt Damon returns to fill his iconic role, however, sans two wild chase scenes, this movie feels lifeless, dull and unfolds like a complete nonevent.

Director Paul Greengrass’ picture does not begin that way. In Reykjavik, Iceland, an old friend sneaks into a secret facility to steal information about various CIA Black Ops programs, including Treadstone which involved Jason Bourne. This person then flees to Athens to meet Bourne and give him the information.

A young, crackerjack CIA analyst, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), discovers the breach, moves to intercept the perpetrator and possibly Bourne as well. Lee’s boss, CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), endorses the mission and feels the same sense of urgency, because Bourne could publicly share a myriad of Black Ops programs, including Ironhand which has not even been launched. That’s the plot in a nutshell, and no matter which breathtaking, far away location Greengrass sends us to, including the previously mentioned Reykjavik and Athens, this picture is an extremely simple chase story between plenty of cats and one Mighty Mouse.

The movie certainly looks great and possesses all of the ingredients for an excellent action picture with the glaring exception of an engaging story. Vikander – fresh off her supporting Oscar win for “The Danish Girl” (2015) – proves that she can play a character who is a more-than-capable advisory to Bourne, as she always insightfully pulls the right levers in cyberspace to find this isolated superspy.

Watching Lee in action, I would love to see her work with Jack Bauer at CTU in a future television season of “24”, and but I digress.

Jones is fine in a supporting role, but does not really get a whole lot to do other than occasionally speak in doubletalk behind closed doors, and Bourne himself barely says a word throughout the picture. I saw an article headline which claimed that Damon only speaks about 25 lines throughout this movie, and I believe it. Since he is on his own, Bourne does not say a lot to anyone but sometimes thinks back to the death of his father, and how it could be the key to current events. I do not know if Damon speaks 25 lines or not, but I attempted to keep track during the movie screening. I sketched seven tick marks in my notebook after roughly 45 minutes, but became so bored with the basic story, I forgot to continually make pen slashes every time Bourne spoke.

Bourne travels to and from several major cities to – I think – allude the CIA and eventually expose them, but a minimal amount of action and intrigue exists in every new urban locale. Thankfully, “Jason Bourne” contains two impressive action sequences at the beginning and end of the film, but that does not mean I forgot the painfully slow nonstory for 1 hour 20 minutes or so in the middle.

At least the actual Jason Bourne starred in the movie, but this film is the equivalent of watching a James Bond picture in which 007 reads the Sunday newspaper and takes his dog for a walk. Can I pay half price for that movie too? (1.5/4 stars)

Images: Universal Pictures

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