So I enjoyed the experience of going to the movies for the first time in nearly 18 months. The actual movie, Jason Bourne, not so much as I would have hoped. In preparation for what should be the last installment in this incarnation I rewatched the original trilogy and made a few comments here. In summary, Jason Bourne was an entertaining techno political action film lacking the intensity of the original trilogy, and it didn’t always feel uniquely Bourne until the last scene. With a few more women and a steadier camera, this could have been a Bond film. If you squint “Jason Bourne” kind of looks like “James Bond”.
Sure, the film took on issues ripped from the headlines which made it politically relevant but for a film entitled Jason Bourne we didn’t learn too much more about the titular character. In previous films, Bourne’s identity is closely linked to main plot – actually, it is the main plot – but here it didn’t really play out that way; it was held together with the barest of thread bare plots, while the link between the inciting action and the character development was loose. Most of the time the DeepDream plot was good material but I just kept thinking why is Bourne doing this again? How does this link to the inciting event? You know, stuff about his father?
Okay, so maybe I need to rewatch, or maybe I missed some stuff, but the film but it really lacked the mystery and paranoia of the trilogy. It didn’t seem uniquely Bourne in that sense. At the end of Ultimatum, we knew pretty much everything about Bourne. We knew he volunteered based on a lie. So this came down to a Taken-style revenge deal; find the guy who killed his dad. And like Taken, characters even came and went without us knowing too much about their motivations beyond “I want to get rid of you”.
On the upside, stylistically, the art direction, editing and cinematography were more conventional which suited the techy DeepDream plot and it may have been an attempt to lighten the dark tone of previous films. The riot scene and convention centre scenes were, as we should expect from Greengrass, large scale scenes executed and edited well. Extremely immersive, capturing the chaos and confusion of the masses. And the ending was epic. And then there was Moby.
Or it could have been that maybe I was just holding out hoping for something big. Which we get in a few scenes, particularly around Lee (the CIA agent), Kaloor (the CEO of DeepDream – a Facebook / Google type company) and Dewey (director of the CIA). Lee is the new young idealistic up-and-comer in the CIA. She believes in a new way of doing business, through collaboration and reconciliation. A positive approach Her plan is to actually bring Bourne in rather than eliminate him. Dewey disagrees – Bourne is a risk, and he needs to be eliminated. There is no way he can assimilate and there’s no way a group like the CIA can bring anyone like that in. The two views are Bourne the human versus Bourne the asset.
Between Kaloor and Lee we learn they studied together in the past. Kaloor asks Lee if has experienced any conflicts with her principles in her new role at the agency. It’s actually an interesting concept and I would have loved to have seen it fleshed out a little. but eventually we find out what Lee is really like.
What then shall we say, thematically?
The omnipresent, omniscient intelligence agency depicted here would be something like the dream system of intelligence agencies all over the world. To be able to see everything and know everything about anyone any time (essentially). In the same way, there probably isn’t a person like Bourne in the world, and its almost as if the series has been saying all along, this is the kind of person you need to be to win against this machine.
Ultimately, though, the film’s final note suggests we don’t need to be. See, there’s no violent showdown with the CIA but Bourne still wins. He uses technology, his brains and his knowledge to hold the powers that be to account; “to watch the watchers”. Now, as mentioned in the previous post, some might say any questioning of security agencies is unpatriotic. I’m not American, but I don’t think it is un-patriotic to think your government to act morally even as others are not. But this is the question of national security since 9/11: Security at what cost?
Knowing I am safe and secure in Christ means I may fear for others but I need not fear for me. In Him, there is no need to fear a sudden death. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25)
Aĺl told, the film was just entertaining with enough set pieces and Matt Damon but it could have done with more character development and slightly less chasing. The wonderful final scene can’t redeem the whole movie but it was powerfully consistent with the broader themes of the series. I guess the film was entertaining in spite of itself. Or the M&Ms were stronger than I expected.