ReelBob: ‘Jason Bourne’

By Bob Bloom

A magician’s greatest skill is the art of distraction — getting the audience to look one way, while he or she performs slight of hand the other way.

That is an apt metaphor for “Jason Bourne,” a movie in which hand-to-hand fights, chases — on foot and in vehicles — gunshots and roadway mayhem are used as diversions to cover a flimsy plotline and some wooden and pedestrian performances.

On the uptick, if you want to see a fast-paced movie that rushes through its nearly two-hour running time like an out-of-control canoe barreling down some rapids, plus fine stunt work and fight choreography, then you will definitely enjoy “Jason Bourne.”

“Jason Bourne” is a geopolitical thriller that touches base in Iceland, Athens, London, Berlin and Washington, D.C.

It is filled with double crosses, treachery, murder and all the necessary ingredients that comprise the genre.

The movie, basically, is a story of discovery. Matt Damon returns as Jason Bourne. In his fourth outing as the rogue outsider, Damon’s Bourne remembers his real name and how he was recruited into the CIA.

His mind also slowly begins to unlock memories about his father, a CIA analyst, supposedly killed by terrorists in Beirut.

That framework alone is enough of a clue, so you can guess where the film is heading.

Bourne ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hacks into the CIA servers to download and steal a series of black-op files that include information on Bourne. (It is most helpful to Parsons that the CIA actually keeps those files in a folder named “Black Operations!”)

Of course, CIA officials, led by head honcho Robert Dewey (a tired-looking Tommy Lee Jones) and his ambitious protégé, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), get wind of the hack and call in The Asset, a deadly and ruthless assassin played by Vincent Cassel, who has a personal vendetta against Bourne.

So, the chase is on, with Bourne staying one step ahead of the CIA, whose bumbling operatives are either beaten or killed by the dozens.

It is unclear why the CIA, through its past encounters with Bourne, has not learned to just stay away from him. But they keep sending agents who fall like bowling pins when coming in contact with Bourne.

Paul Greengrass, who directed the second and third films in the “Bourne” franchise, again utilizes a documentary-style cinematography that strives to give the feature an authenticity to compensate for some of its more outlandish set pieces.

The actors are required to do little: Damon marches through the procedure like Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator,” dispensing his own brand of justice while speaking very little dialogue.

Vikander spends too much time looking shifty and talking into earwigs, ordering agents around. Cassel is simply a killing machine, while Jones looks as if he could fall asleep at any moment.

“Jason Bourne” hints at a sequel. However, I think the series is played out and Damon, who served as one of the film’s producers, should take Bourne off the grid for good.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

JASON BOURNE
2 stars out of 4
(PG-13), intense action and violence sequences, language

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