‘Jason Bourne’ Review | Holy Crap, This Movie is Bad

You don’t have to look too hard at Jason Bourne to find the exact moment when writer/director Paul Greengrass completely gave the fuck up on this franchise. It’s the part when Jason Bourne is following somebody and could probably use a tracking device, so he looks to his immediate right and sees a bowlful of tracking devices. Free samples, no less. It’s like an episode of MacGyver where Mac just happens to find all of his gadgets pre-assembled for him whenever he needs one. In other words, it’s stupid and it sucks.

Jason Bourne isn’t just one of the worst movies of the year, it’s an absolute refutation of everything this franchise once represented. The original film, The Bourne Identity, came out in 2002 and injected thoughtfulness and character back into the spy genre, at a time when the goofier James Bond movies still ruled the roost. Now we’re right back in nonsense territory and the Bourne franchise is personally to blame. When Jason Bourne suddenly needs a vehicle, he just happens to find the coolest sports car imaginable. And when Jason Bourne says he’s trying to find a way to solve his problems that doesn’t involve murder, what he really means is that he’s barely one minute away from chasing a generically evil bad guy all across Las Vegas for the purpose of petty revenge, and killing God knows how many innocent bystanders in the process. (It’s a lot.)

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Jason Bourne is the kind of movie where a computer can alert the CIA over the internet that someone is decrypting top secret files, only for the very next plot point to be that the very same computer isn’t connected to the internet. It’s the kind of movie where one-third of the running time can be devoted to a subplot about a social media service that will give away your private information to the government, only for that plot to never come to any conclusion whatsoever or tie into Jason Bourne’s storyline in any way. And Jason Bourne’s own plot just blandly repeats this one short flashback over and over again about a family member whom Jason can’t actually remember ever speaking to, but who was apparently so damned important that nobody ever thought to mention him until the fifth movie in this series.

So basically Jason Bourne is like SPECTRE without any of the good parts. And if you’re saying to yourself, “SPECTRE has good parts?” then let me assure you, compared to Jason Bourne it does. Nothing happens for most of this movie. The film has only a handful of plot points and it drags each one of them out with interminable montages of every character, including many we’ve never met before and will never meet again, just walking briskly. Sure, sometimes they walk through doors. Sometimes they even pick up a thing first in order to get through those doors. But never do those doors lead anywhere interesting.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

In an apparent attempt offset the boredom, the whole movie is set to an impossibly repetitive and thumping musical score that is desperately trying to sell us on the idea that something exciting is happening. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie missed the memo. The most dramatic thing that happens throughout all of Jason Bourne was stolen wholesale from The Bourne Supremacy, in a scene that fans of the franchise are definitely going to remember. It happens the same way as before, except this time there’s no reason to feel anything about it whatsoever.

Oh yeah, the plot: Jason Bourne is a superstar in the underground Greek street fighting circuit. When an old associate (Julia Stiles) gives him stolen files, he decrypts those files, and then tracks down a guy and then tracks down another guy. Meanwhile, a rival agent (Vincent Cassel) is tracking him down and a CIA security expert (Alicia Vikander) would kind of like a promotion. Also, the CIA Director (Tommy Lee Jones) gives speeches about national security blah-blah-blah. There are two car chases and at one point the entire country of Greece collapses and nobody seems to care.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

If Jason Bourne was just the next in a very long line of Jason Bourne knockoffs, then we could write it off as an insipid misfire and call it a day. Instead, we are forced to wonder why Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon – who walked away from this franchise like a pair of fucking champions nine years ago – thought that this particular film was a good enough reason to come back. It has nothing to say about the events that transpire within it, and none of the characters actually seem to change over the course of the film (unless dying counts). So why the hell are we even being asked to watch it?

One could argue that maybe Jason Bourne was an act of selfless self-sabotage, in which Greengrass and Damon both intentionally made the worst Bourne movie possible in order to prevent anyone from ever asking them to make one again. But somehow they even bungled that, since The Bourne Legacy is still technically worse than this movie, albeit not by much. And if The Bourne Legacy couldn’t kill off this franchise then I highly doubt Jason Bourne will be able to do it himself, much to our disappointment and – it would seem, as he sulks off into the sunset, utterly aimless and completely detached from anything human – his own.

Top Photo: Universal Pictures

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved, Rapid Reviews and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.