Director: Paul Greengrass
Stars: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander
2 (out of 5) Globes
“Jason Bourne” isn’t five minutes old and its hero has knocked out a dude. It only takes one punch, too. Matt Damon’s renegade super-spy is nine years older than he was the last time he was onscreen. His face is craggier, his eyes hardened by pain, his three-day beard sufficiently broody. But he’s also more ripped, more lethal. The mid-40s Damon got in the best shape of his life, and as he goes bareknuckling with a muscled colossus on the Greek-Albanian border, his solitary punch is a statement of purpose: We’re not messing around. We’re tougher than ever. We’re bringing the goods.
But it’s also a lie. It’s cocky WWE pre-fight trash talk by a wrassler trying to hide that he’s too hungover to piledrive. That might be overstating it: This is a perfectly diverting picture, bringing back, after the so-so failed spin-off “Legacy,” not just the series’ big star but its director, Paul Greengrass, who gave the movies their singular herky-jerk, whiplashy voice with “Supremacy” and “Ultimatum.” But it’s the first “Bourne” to not go next-level. It tries to bring back the good old days but comes off like the guy who still wants to shotgun Buds (or Americas) at 50 while blasting W.A.S.P. It plays like a disposable airport novel — like, say, one of the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum, whose content the movie versions have mostly ignored.
It’s a major step-down from “Ultimatum,” which is even more obvious since the new one’s almost a remake. That one felt like a new kind of action cinema, the one dreamt of by genre junkies: It was basically one long chase scene, with few, very brief respites. This one has a bit more plot, more downtime. It still makes little sense. Bourne is called out of hiding for insufficient reasons, then scampers about the globe trying to stop a new and improved version of America’s super-secret super-assassin program that sounds a lot like the original one. It's run by the series’ fourth scary old white guy (now Tommy Lee Jones). There’s also talk of even more expanded surveillance tactics, which is opposed by a Mark Zuckerberg type (Riz Ahmed) in too deep with government goons. Yes, this is a movie in which Jason Bourne tries to save Facebook.