28 August 2016

Bourne Again

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Is it just me or does Jason Bourne have a suspiciously similar set-up to Finding Dory? It's around a decade after the previous entry in the series and we're finally getting a sequel in which everybodies favourite amnesiac fights to discover the mystery of their absent parents. Although I suppose the fact that Dory isn't known to have ever battered the shit out of anybody with a rolled up bit of magazine is one difference between the two. Also Jason Bourne is not a fish. One other thing that they do share however is in how artistically nobody really saw these follow-ups coming. I mean obviously Finding Nemo and The Bourne series were shitting out more coins than King Midas after a particularly brutal 'pokey-bum wank'. However it didn't seem that either of them really had anywhere to go in terms of story. Ignoring Jeremy Renner's The Bourne Cash-In, The Bourne Ultimatum not only wrapped the entire story up but it did so with literally the most perfect way to end one of the most consistent trilogies of the last few decades. In which case the question that needs to be be asked is 'does this new Jason Bourne film do anything to justify the continuation of the franchise?' Short answer.. No.

Considering how the previous films ended, it'll come to no surprise to anybody to find out that Bourne is now living a happy little life in Cornwall with his new wife Agnes and their four loveable children. Oh, and as Jason has since found God, the little family cafe that they run is called Bourne Again. It's very witty. Over in America, the CIA is now being mostly run by Ex-Nursery school teachers who took to their positions due to their need to protect all of the little children that they'd spent their careers loving and educating. Except that's not the case, is it. Bourne is living off the grid by being paid to punch people in the face whilst torturing himself each night with the newly gained memories of who he is and what he's done. Over at the CIA, they appear to have learnt literally fuck all from the previous films by replacing the last lot of corrupt wankers with a new lot of corrupt wankers. Same day, different shits, I guess. Meanwhile Nikki, ex-CIA-employee and friend to Bourne, has gone rogue, hacked the CIA's computers, and found a load of dodgy shit that they don't want her having. Considering it involves Bourne's dead father, she decides to get the information to him as the CIA attempt to track them both down. Something that's being made a hell of a lot easier now that we live in George Orwell's 198-fucking-4 and have cameras literally every-fucking-where.

As mentioned, it's been almost ten years since the previous entry, which brings up two points.. the first being, fuck me- that time's gone quickly; and the second being, (and money aside) why bother bringing Bourne back after this long? Since Ultimatum, Damon has always said that he'd be happy to return to the character, but only under the condition that Paul Greengrass was back as director. Nothing too controversial there I suppose seems as Greengrass is a cinematic genius, which is a claim that I'm more than happy to defend with a fight to the fucking death. In which case, why did he decide to come back after resisting for so long? Well, according to interviews, it's simply because Greengrass realised that the world has changed so much over the last ten years that he thought it'd be interesting to reflect that in an action movie. I mean, back in 2007, internet porn was still a novelty whereas now I'm so nonchalant towards it that I can catch myself having a cheeky tug whilst watching it on the train to work. Well.. that's a lie. I don't get the train to work. But if I did we now live in an age in which that's something that I could do. Not only that but every other passenger would now be able to film it, upload it to YouTube, have it go viral, and like Piers Morgan, I could be a famous wanker before even reaching my stop.

This desire to reflect the current state of the world is I think therefore the film's greatest strength and it's biggest problem. On the plus side, there's no doubt that a disappointingly high number of movies this year have been a bit crap with few of them having any real relevance to our contemporary world. Well, except London Has Fallen I suppose. That took a look at the news, decided it didn't like brown people, and so had Gerard Butler kill them all for fun. However unlike London Has Fallen, Jason Bourne isn't using a sweet-corn speckled lump of shit for a brain, and as such has something it actually wants to say. We therefore get an action movie that has a chase through one of those anti-government riots in Greece, that also deals with our NSA-style surveillance, and involves some information sharing, computer-hacking Assange/Snowden-type characters. In almost every aspect, Jason Bourne is the argument against anybody who claims that action movies are all just dumb, explosion-filled, gun pornos. It's the David Dunn to Michael Bay's Mr Glass or the Yin to Bret Ratner's shite. In a year in which Gods Of Egypt was so dumb that I think I may have left the cinema with mild brain-damage, a film of substance is a bit like finding an Encyclopedia hidden inside the floating corpse of an old dead tramp.

It's also worth noting too that the action is fucking phenomenal, by the way. There's a car chase in Las Vegas that was so fast and involved so much destruction that I think I walked away from it with a little post-traumatic stress. People argue that Bond became gritty because it wanted to copy what was going on with Bourne. However I'd argue that Bond actually had to become gritty to get away from Austin Powers, with Bourne not exactly being Tinker fucking Tailer. Sure Bourne might bleed when he's punched, but don't forget that in the first movie he did also ride a dead body down a 40ft drop whilst shooting people as he fell. Well, the same is true here in which the car chase ends with a sequence that's straight out of GTA and that would leave at least one of the characters fucking dead. I guess things have had to get bigger here though due to the way in which the CIA orchestrate everything whilst watching the carnage on a million surveillance screens. Essentially this means that they're able to raise the stakes in real time as though they're the fucking Gods in Jason And The fucking Argonauts. Which isn't to say that everything is all high-tech and modern.. Bourne still likes to do things like he did before the cyber-revolution.. i.e. find people and then punch them in the balls until they tell you what you want to know. In fact, in terms of just stealing shit alone, I saw Bourne secretly put his hands into so many peoples pockets that it was like watching somebody at a fucking swingers club.

In those two respects, social subtext and amazing balls-to-the-wall action, you really couldn't ask for a better sequel to The Bourne Ultimatum. However we're still left with the main problem of the story. Literally nothing has changed. What did you think Bourne did before joining the agency? What did you think he'd do after the final credits? Well, you're obviously right. Oh, but because every fucking character ever has to have Daddy issues.. now he does too. Vincent Cassel's character is good in this film. It's just a shame that he's basically Karl Urban's character from Supremacy. The character of Nikki gets a good action scene. Shame it reminded me of Marie's action scene from Supremacy. Reckon that Tommy Lee Jones made a good villain? He did, didn't he. It's just a shame that his character is so similar in motive to David Strathairn, Brian Cox, and Chris Cooper from Identity, Supremacy, and fucking Ultimatum. This film is brilliant in every single respect except for the fact that the film previous to it tied up every loose end and covered every patch of ground to the point that there's nothing left to say or do.

As just an action film, Jason Bourne is one of the best of the year. In terms of how well it's directed, it might even be the best action film of the last few years. But as an action film that exists in the vast pantheon of cinema, and as a fourth entry in the Bourne saga, it's completely unnecessary. The political shit might be what got Greengrass interested in the project but you get the feeling that ironically he forgot about Bourne in the process. Kind of as though he wanted to make his political action movie and simply made it into a Bourne movie in order to get funding, an audience, and avoid the obvious comparison. Which doesn't stop it from still being a great film. It's just that I went to a good friend's birthday shin-dig the other day and I thought it'd be a good idea to eat two slices of birthday cake. I fucking enjoyed every bite of it too. It was tasty and I loved it. But I was full, it gave me the shits, and perhaps I really shouldn't have pushed my luck with it. Jason Bourne, for all its many merits, sadly, is that second slice of cake. Thanks for reading and see you again, motherfuckers.

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