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Jason Bourne (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 125 minutes.

Not for children.

I feel honor bound to reveal a conflict of interest I have whenever I write a review about a film in which Alicia Vikander appears. Almost from the first time I saw her in A Royal Affair (2012) she has occupied the spot as my all-time favorite actress. She has been the best thing in every movie in which I have seen her, including junk like 2015ís The Man From U.N.C.L.E., in which all she was required to do was be there.

Granted, thereís not much acting required here, either. This is a pure actioner whose biggest star is the tension-enhancing music (David Buckley and John Powell), which consists mostly of a constant beat. Even though that might not sound like much, it does keep the viewer on the edge of his or her seat throughout because it is, as I said, constant.

Bourne (Matt Damon) is a fly in the ointment of new CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). One of his assistants is Heather Lee (Vikander) who seems to have a lot of influence over Dewey, despite her tender years. But to be fair to Dewey, I donít know any man who wouldnít offer her a job as an assistant, or anything else, just to have her around.

In the past, movies in which all the bad guys work for the U.S. government offended me. I thought that todayís movie makers should make todayís real bad guys, Islamists, the bad guys in their movies like in WWII when the Nazis and Japanese were the real bad guys and were the bad guys in most movies. But after living through the past eight years, I can now accept the fact that there are lots of corrupt bad guys in the U.S. Government, so accepting the idea that the head of the CIA is one is no longer hard to take. Adding to this, Damon apparently insisted that the film have some political POV, although what that is, is pretty opaque.

If youíre familiar with the other Bourne movies, you know that Jason is on the outside and that the CIA is still trying to get him, one way or the other. What this is, is a chase film, and itís a good one, although some of the car chases are so silly they mar some of the tension that the movie produces. This is a surprise because director Paul Greengrass, who cowrote the script with Christopher Rouse, inspired by the original novel by the late Robert Ludlum, made the Bourne films into something special when he took over from Doug Liman, who directed the first one, The Bourne Identity (2002) and made a mess of it. Greengrass has shown that he should be better than these silly car chases he shows here.

Whenever one talks about car chases, the two originals, Bullitt (1968) and The French Connection (1971), should be models. They were realistic and spectacular. All the imitators ever since have been increasingly more and more ridiculous, and the car chases in this are no different (but I said pretty much the same thing in my review of Limanís film in 2002). I am disappointed that Greengrass diminished a good movie by such absurdities, especially the final 15-minute denouement in Las Vegas that simply defies credibility and is one of the most ridiculous ever filmed.

Still, the bottom line is that this is an entertaining film and one does get to look at Vikander for two hours, and thereís nothing wrong with that.