Jerry Cutler On Film—‘Jason Bourne’ —Film & Character—Disappoint
Posted: Friday, July 29, 2016 – 3:07 PM
Disappointments abound in our culture, but over the years I have built up a strong resistance to expectations that fall short. However, when iron-clad proven entertainment furnished by Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass fails to deliver, my resistance is shattered and I foresee months of expensive therapy ahead.
Truth be told, I didn’t have much faith in Jeremy Renner taking over the role in the third Jason Bourne franchise output. And I was right; as talented as he is, he just isn’t Jason Bourne. No one is, except of course, Matt Damon. So, when he returned for the newest and latest Bourne film, event titled Jason Bourne, I was elated and couldn’t wait for the screening. Although I don’t like going too far from the home base of Beverly Hills to see a movie, how could I not take the frustrating and nerve wracking late afternoon traffic jammed drive to the Hollywood Arclight Theatre to see the authentic Bourne?
The opening sequence of an incredibly buffed Bourne’s bare knuckling knockout was worth the maddening trip. I settled back and waited for director/co-writer Greengrass’s masterful epic to continue capturing my attention. Alas, it wasn’t to be. What followed was a constant technical barrage of CIA downloading following the movements of Bourne who was thought dead and found, much to their chagrin, to be very much alive.
CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) realizing that Bourne has recovered from his amnesia wants him silenced before he spills all he knows about their shady operatives. The beautiful agent (are there any other?) Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) talks Dewey into letting her track down Bourne and bring him in— alive. Reluctantly, Dewey agrees.
What follows is lots of action. And, more action. And more downloading surveillances. What was missing was a story. There is an overlong car chase sequence in Las Vegas. Certainly, there are other ways of wasting time when substance is nowhere to be found, than the destruction of cars. Admittedly, Greengrass does it better than most, but I much prefer story and dialogue to flying-through-the air cars flouncing on one another.
If this is what happens when Bourne recovers from amnesia, I say hit him over the head and have the amnesia return.
On the plus side, it’s great seeing Damon back again as Bourne and, as an aside; there is a young actor, Riz Ahmed, who plays a Silicon Valley tycoon. The Silicon Valley bit adds nothing to the film, but the actor is featured in a brilliant limited HBO series, The Night Of. If you haven’t been watching, I implore you tune in and catch it from the beginning. Written with Richard Price (Clockers) and directed by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List), the show is must-see TV.
As for Jason Bourne, it has its moments and might satisfy your expectations. If you are into action, computers and car crashes, it delivers. If not, wait for the next franchise production when Bourne is hit over the head by Alicia Vikander’s wayward garter and, once again, forgets who he is. (I have already registered the story line.)
2 bagels and a shmear out of 4
Jerry Cutler, the Courier’s film critic, is rabbi at Creative Arts Temple.