Director: Paul Greengrass

Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed and Julia Stiles

Studio: Universal

Rated: 14A

Running Time: 2 Hrs., 3 Mins.

The world has changed a great deal since moviegoers first met Jason Bourne 14 years ago. Threats have become more insidious while espionage and fanaticism alike have moved increasingly deeper into cyberspace. The world’s most powerful nations have proven too slow in adapting their tactics and the conversation about the balance between personal freedom and the importance of public safety has become more complex and polarizing. Countries now find themselves justifying actions that would have appalled them years ago, all in the name of national security.

Video: Universal Pictures

It’s this narrative that the most recent Bourne adventure, Jason Bourne, wades into. And no one can accuse the movies of not adapting to a changing global landscape.

Former super sleeper agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), now in possession of most of his memories, has spent years living in the shadows. Scraping together a life in fight clubs and dingy apartments, not even the omniscient CIA knows for certain if he’s still alive. Until one day, former CIA analyst turned rogue hacker Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) tracks him down after hacking the CIA and stealing some of their most coveted secrets. Among them is more information about Bourne, his family and their links to the program that turned him into an obedient killing machine. But there’s a new program as well, one that enlists the co-operation of the world’s fastest rising tech billionaire and messiah (Riz Ahmad) and will allow America’s intelligence machinery to spy on unsuspecting millions across the world.

Bourne is soon knee deep in layer upon layer of intrigue and deception, with the head of the CIA (Tommy Lee Jones) and his formidable young protégé (Alicia Vikander) pulling most of the strings. As Bourne’s hunt for answers spirals into a personal vendetta, he finds himself in the crosshairs of a vengeful assassin and in the middle of a covert chess game of shifting alliances and changing agendas.

After trying t0 launch the franchise in another direction without star Matt Damon or director Paul Greengrass with 2012’s disappointing Bourne Legacy, Universal wisely brought back the original dynamic duo. But instead of going full retro and just recycling the same old Bourne tropes, Greengrass and company move the Bourne films into more contemporary territory (thus the story revolving around governments domestic spying and the growing issue of privacy versus safety). The Bourne films have always been heavy on the tech side, but this one really immerses itself into the technological landscape. Its full of hackers, computer engineers and a tonne of gadgets designed for surveillance. There are times that the movie struggles to balance the action that is Bourne’s calling card against the new emphasis on technology, but Greengrass uses those opportunities to try and develop his story and characters a little further (particularly Vikander’s cyber security specialist Heather Lee).

There are decent spurts of action in the first two acts but Bourne really jacks up the action in the third, delivering one of the best (and most innovative) car chases in recent memory. Cleverly inserted flashbacks show the evolution of Damon playing the super spy he’s become synonymous with since 2002, and the star is still more than capable of delivering on the movie’s physical demands. Tommy Lee Jones effectively growls his way through his role as CIA chief Robert Dewey and Vikander suitably fills out Dewey’s brilliant (and ambitious) young protégé. But all of the leads take a back seat to the quickly paced story and the building action.

Jason Bourne is an excellent addition to the Bourne series and is a smart, satisfying action movie free of the pitfalls most action movies fall into. It leaves the door open to additional installments though it doesn’t demand any (and in all honesty, it might be a good idea for everyone involved to leave on a high note and call it a day for the Bourne movies). It’s a great popcorn movie that will keep your brain engaged almost as much as your adrenaline.

Photo: Universal Pictures



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