THE MOVIE GUY: ‘Jason Bourne’ on autopilot

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, July 28, 2016

Matt Damon re-teams with director Paul Greengrass for the fifth installment in the Jason Bourne series, certainly one of the more highly anticipated films of the summer movie season. Unfortunately, much of the magic is gone in this mildly disappointing, mostly by-the-numbers action thriller.

Damon is back, playing the title role as the amnesia-addled American super soldier who has spent the last few movies trying to learn his true identity. The story begins with him biding his time on an underground prizefighting circuit. Things shift into motion when hackers break into CIA files and uncover information about various black operations, some of which lead directly to Bourne.

Tommy Lee Jones plays the CIA director who starts a cover up by hiring a rogue asset (Vincent Cassel) to silence for good our muckraking hero. Fortunately, Bourne has a few insiders (Julia Styles, Alicia Vikander) who are willing to help, allowing Bourne to survive the deadly attacks with his amazing fighting skills and uncover governmental malfeasance in the process.

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You know, the sort of stuff that Jason Bourne always does.

Much of the problem with this latest movie is that it doesn’t really break any new ground, giving us an enjoyable adventure, but one that seems to be a bit on autopilot. We don’t really learn anything new about the grand conspiracy that brought Bourne to life, and the action sequences aren’t quite up to par with the previous films.

The film does get points for its topical storyline, which is ostensibly about our government’s attempts to spy on its own citizens. Governmental paranoia gives the film a bit of a fresh feel, but it’s a superficial improvement as the basic story structure falls a little flat.

Which is not to say that the film isn’t any good; it’s just not up to the level that we were hoping for when we heard that Damon was returning to the franchise, replacing Jeremy Renner who also turned in a by-the-numbers performance that made “The Bourne Legacy” into a disappointment.

It’s a shame because there are a few tantalizing hints of what might have been. An action set piece staged during a Greek political protest is top notch, showing us how Greengrass uses his shaky-cam cinematography to keep the audience off kilter while everything falls apart around our desperate hero. It’s reminiscent of the things that thrilled audiences in the first few films. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t enough of these moments to rescue this adventure.

The bottom line is that fans of the Jason Bourne movies should still enjoy this sequel, and it’s certainly nice to see Matt Damon back playing the hero. It’s simply not the knockout punch that many fans were hoping for, making “Jason Bourne” into an okay, but nothing special action thriller.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at