The following contains spoilers for Jason Bourne. You have been warned.
Rachel: So, Jason Bourne is officially back! What were either of your hopes and/or fears going into the film and were they met for the most part?
Ben: I’d say that both a hope and fear for me would be that Jason Bourne wouldn’t be able to live up to the legacy (not The Bourne Legacy) that the original trilogy set for it. They all won acclaim from audiences and critics alike and after ten years or so, you either feel at this point they have a solid entry, or just want to cash in via Hollywood sequel fever.
Rick: For me the trailer was a big red flag as I was not impressed or even interested. As much as I enjoy the trilogy not including Legacy, my hopes were that this new film wasn’t going to be lackluster.
Ben: But you can’t deny the trailer music was kind of awesome.
Rick: Sure, but even with that, I looked back at the trilogy and their trailers and they were just okay. For me the films were better than the trailers offered which is a smart thing to do.
Rachel: This is going to be kind of a bold statement, but for Jason Bourne, the entire movie felt like an elongated trailer. Let me back up and say I am a huge fan of the franchise, but at the end of this installment I felt like none of the plot or characters reached a catharsis or end point, and that the film focused more on its visuals that are so specific to the Paul Greengrass style.
Ben: You mean that rare version of handheld camera technique that ACTUALLY allows you to see what’s going on? Kind of. At best I enjoyed the film, but you can’t deny that it was a bit…. formulaic in the sense that every Bourne film trope in the book was there. Right down to the end shot and tune.
Rick: Even though Greengrass and Damon were on board for the film, I still have to say that the fans were a little too pushy for another installment. People need to know when to cut the strings and leave something well enough alone. At least I felt that this film was an improvement over Legacy which left too many unanswered questions.
Rachel: The kicker for me was that Matt Damon (Bourne) said several times that this sequel took so long because he was waiting for a good story, or good script. I can see how he thought they had one since the script was rooted in our current political climate of the government acting as Big Brother, however, they didn’t come up with anything new to add to the conversation.
Ben: To be fair, as good as the Bourne films are, they do have a standard to them that usually focuses around Bourne as a character. Who he is, why he entered the Treadstone program, and his past in general. Everything else is usually the same, from the guys at computer screens trying to find him to those car chase sequences. But here they didn’t focus so much on Bourne as they did that techy- new Program system Ironhand. And because of that, it did drop a bit of quality.
Rick: Despite the varying opinions here, what were your thoughts as to my review of the film?
Rachel: Personally, I would have given the film a lower score, but I definitely see where you were coming from, especially with it being one of the better franchise/sequel attempts this summer. Vincent Cassel, who played this film’s new assassin, called it a “classy” franchise, which I agree with.
Ben: I would have probably done a 3.5-3 out of 5 because it was good, at least in terms of action-thriller status. But it does take a while for things to get into the engaging part. I mean that stuff in Greece between Bourne and Nicki (Julia Stiles) were well shot and choreographed, but I don’t think I really got what was happening until after that sequence. And, to be fair, why Nicki needed to meet Bourne in a busy street during a protest never made that much sense to me in the first place.
Rachel: Speaking of Nicki, how did you feel about her death?
Rick: Seeing Nicki getting killed made sense that no one is ever safe from the hands of the government, but of course we can’t kill Bourne. The hardest thing to do is to think of the original films while watching this one. I went in with an open mind and honestly I was expecting not to like this film. But in the end I found the film very enjoyable despite some things that I thought were missing. The characters were fine as well as the actors but again looking back to the earlier films it just didn’t have that bite, not the same intensity that delivered the thrills.
Ben: It’s hard to say, because in the history of the Bourne films, Nicki always felt like a weak link. In the first two films she was just… there. Another asset of the CIA who might have had ties to Bourne in the past, as noted by a clever line in Ultimatum that managed to suggest romance without enforcing “romantic subplot.” But her actions in the films were somewhat minimal and there was never enough time for her to be explored as a character. So her death was just kind of in the plot device territory and not as emotional as they were trying to make it out to be. Plus it just shows that Bourne has the worst luck when it comes to women: they die a lot.
Rachel: For me, it just makes me a bit upset that the writer(s) kill off any chance Bourne has of human connection. Excuse me for wanting some sort of happy ending for this guy, but unless they plan on addressing this issue in future films, it is kind of cruel. That also includes the introduction of his father, an interesting plot development. Including his father’s role with Alicia Vikander’s Heather Lee and Tommy Lee Jones’ CIA Director Robert Dewey, how did you feel about the character/cast additions?
Ben: I think they were good for what the film set them out to be: the government officials with secret agendas. I mean if you want a suited government guy with secrets, you go for Tommy Lee Jones. He’s THE suited government guy. Vikander’s character was the more interesting of the two, as she always seemed to have something up her sleeve, some shady agenda she didn’t want anyone to know. Of course it just ended up being a higher position in the CIA but she felt more engaging as a character because of that shadiness. Plus let’s face it, if Bourne got a happy ending, this series wouldn’t have an excuse to keep going.
Rick: I think that the actors did a fine job for their respective parts, but it no way matches the previous actors and their characters in past entries. Personally, I like the not so happy endings with Bourne, because it feels somewhat realistic. The good guy doesn’t always win, sometimes the girl doesn’t make it. I enjoy a film that tests or least suggests those ideals that we, the audience, should see something different and be shocked at least once. In Supremacy, my mother was mad that Marie died, where I thought it made the story better and forced his character to take action so that we can better understand him.
Rachel: I totally agree, I thought killing Marie was a great plot device in Supremacy. Let me clarify that I don’t mean happy ending in the sense that he falls in love with Nicki and they live happily ever after. But, she was his only ally at that point, and keeping Bourne constantly isolated, while understandable to the series, starts to get a little old.
Ben: Well killing Marie was the plot point that forced Bourne to give up the “normal life” and become the badass assassin/survivor that we come to see him as, so they need a reason to keep him going while giving reason to why he continues to be isolated. It’s a bit like Mad Max in terms of the loner status, but even that series added something new by teaming him up with Furiosa in Fury Road.
Rachel: I guess the introduction of Vikander’s character is kind of pointing to a possible future plot device in luring him in with the idea of human connection- i.e. being a positive force within the government, helping other people, and being a “patriot” again. She wants to bring him back in, and that’s the weakness she can exploit, which I thought was interesting.
Rick: Her character was fine but it was too similar to Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) from Supremacy and Ultimatium. Landy’s character was amazing and in the end wanted to help Bourne. Her character was one thing that was very disappointing in not seeing again. And besides, Bourne knows that he can’t trust anyone but himself. With the way that this film ending, I’m sure that Bourne will be over because I would not want a damn good franchise to get worse and worse. One thing to add is that i didn’t want Bourne to join back into the agency, for the course of knowing his character it just doesn’t seem right that he would return when he opposes it so much.
Ben: But he figured out what she was up to pretty easily, as noted by the ending. Actually, I did like that idea that Bourne could be recruited back into the program under the right circumstances. All the other films wanted him eliminated but Vikander wanted to bring him back, and that confliction of decisions made for a neat clash between her and Lee Jones’ character. But I get what you are saying: there’s not enough evidence to suggest why Bourne would want to go back to the CIA. There seemed to be the “you’ll always be a killer” speech and the PTSD- soldier without a cause mindset envisioned for his character but I don’t think I ever saw Bourne as that wrecked in the head to want that life back.
Rachel: Moving on, how did you feel about the few LONG chase scenes we got in this one, specifically in Las Vegas?
Ben: Well when it comes to action sequences, the Bourne films are always great in that category and for the most part this was still present. The opening chase of sorts in Greece was pretty cool to watch, however there’s always a sense that the film was going overboard in showing how everything sets itself up. It’s like the opposite of too much exposition: they need to show exactly how every detail is set up and that does feel like the action can drag a bit. But when the action comes around it’s extremely kickass to watch. The final chase was cool too but it always felt very Hollywood style. The original films had a simple car/taxi chase sequence and that fit the realism of the Bourne world but this had him in a truck chasing down this movie’s assassin in a SWAT truck. And it was fun but also insanely ridiculous, reminding me a lot of the Batmobile chase from BvS. So it did clash with the tone of the film in general, but as an action sequence it was really cool.
Rick: Las Vegas was wild! Sure, it was over the top and at times didn’t feel realistic, but i thought it was fun. The only major problem that I had was Cassell’s character. I understand that he is an assassin and all that, but was it really that necessary to make him that brutal? The assassins from the other films were quiet, and kept their cool. I thought that making this new one with a back story completely useless but since he connects with the story, I can let it slide, but overall that was one major flaw that I had.
Rachel: Which takes me to my major flaw: I thought the car scenes were fun and reminiscent of the series, however, I thought they ended up cutting into time that could have been used for hand-to-hand combat, where Bourne typically shines. I didn’t get enough of that in this one.
Ben: Can we all agree that Matt Damon was great in this movie? He only had like 25 lines but he still fit the performance after nearly 10 years.
Rachel: Agreed. His performance was the best part, hands down.
Rick: Matt Damon was spot on. The action was great and the fact that he didn’t have much dialogue was something that i enjoyed quite well. Seeing his expression just says enough to know what he is thinking. Matt Damon is Bourne and no one else can fill in those shoes.