Today, friends, I don’t come at you as an objective movie critic, but as a raging fanboy, because for all of the attempts to put aside my biases and get over my prejudices, I just can’t do it. However irrational, however nonsensical, however many times I hear how great it is and how important to cinema the franchise is, I will always utterly despise Bourne.
Paul Greengrass is to me what Uncle Ben’s murderer is to Spiderman. He is the instigator and the embodiment of everything I hate in modern action. An over-reliance on shaky cam to make action look more dramatic. A plot at once over-complicated and overly simplistic, filled with conspiranoia about some shady government official without ever having the nuts to say that the government is flat out the bad guy.
Protagonists with all of the emotion of a drawing of a cow on Ritalin, and villains with the emotion of the label on a bottle of Ritalin. He didn’t start all of them, but Greengrass popularised these and everyone said he was a revolutionary because of that one bit where Bourne puts batteries in a shotgun.
I’m telling you all of this so that you know that my biases are heavily ingrained. James Bond, JeeJee Yanin and John McClane are my action heroes of choice; badasses who can actually smile and get frightened and have campy yet brutal adventures rather than the same tense scenes of looking through a goddamn sniper scope or binoculars over and over again.
So, we’re all up to speed? Good? Good. In that case, take this with a pinch of salt, but Jason Bourne is a bit rubbish.
For those of you who are only in this for the thrilling action, then prepare for the most paint-by-numbers action movie of all time. We have a couple of dull shootouts, someone following someone else in the city, we end on an overly long and boring car chase, and we even have not one but TWO short grungy underground boxing matches against burly bald men, one in the most generic location of all (the desert) and one in the second most generic (a soup kitchen). Not a single creative thought went into this. And you know what? I take it back, Star Trek Beyond; at least your shaky cam was restricted to just fight scenes. I will say, it’s nice that kangeroos on methamphetamines are still able to get work as camera.
Hunting a technical marvel is a fool’s errand too. The actors all look cold, bored and dead-eyed against a backdrop of greys, dark greys and light greys, though the visual effects department had a lovely time inventing all of the stupidest fake computer gobble-di-gook since Die Hard 4. The very first line in the film is someone saying “Use SQL to hack the database!” and to you programming nerds this is basically like saying “Use Fork to eat the food!”. My jaw hit the floor when someone actually hacked the power out of a building. Why not hack Bourne’s gun out of his hand and shoot him with it using Microsoft Word?
Finally, if for whatever reason you are super into Bourne as a story, then prepare to be disappointed. So, that whole trilogy, remember that? Yeah, that’s at once all important and barely makes an impact. Even the characters are thrown for a loop; the baddies all think that Bourne’s after them to expose them all over again, when really he’s just sad that his dad (who he doesn’t know) died years ago (he only remembers how about halfway through in the most obvious twist outside of a wrestling feud) and he’s bored of freedom. Well, I’m bored of this movie, Paul, why won’t you set me free?
Jason Bourne is a thuddingly unremarkable film in every respect. It even lacks the qualities for a true disaster of a movie and ends up being a dull thud. I might not like Bourne, but I struggle to find a reason for even a Jason Bourne fan to watch this. Wipe this one from your memory.
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And, of course, Rob complains some more about this film, along with discussing new DC trailers, on this week’s Battleship Potemkast.