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Catching Up: Jason Bourne (2016)

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Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Julia Stiles

(Ahem) Dear Paul Greengrass,

Prior to seeing Jason Bourne with my father recently (which I was very excited about doing, by the way), I went to Youtube and saw the B-roll footage of the making of the film. It’s fun seeing how movies are made, and judging by what I saw in that five-and-a-half minute video, it looks like you and your crew worked very hard to bring the movie to life. There is something that made me curious, though. It came when the video showed you staring at a couple of monitors as a scene was being filmed, showing you how the scene would look as it was being filmed.

I find this curious, because Jason Bourne is visually one of the most head-ache inducing movies that I can remember seeing. The camera shakes so much here, that it’s difficult to tell what’s going on half of the time. This is especially true of the action scenes, which are so chaotic, blurry, and incoherent that it’s impossible to enjoy them. You must have known that they were going to turn out that why, since those monitors showed you how things were going to look during filming, right? I can’t imagine you screaming on set, “Okay, cut! I can’t see s**t guys! That was perfect!”

How in the lunacy of your mind is that an effective approach for filming action scenes? Don’t you remember the original movie? Remember how crisp and smooth the action scenes were shot? How about The French Connection? Raiders of the Lost Ark? Heck, even last year’s Spectre knew how to shoot an action scene, and that wasn’t even a very good movie to begin with. You can certainly shake a camera during an action scene effectively, but you’ve got to know where to draw the line. There is such a thing as shaking a camera too much!

It’s stunning that Jason Bourne is as ineptly made as it is, because you are not a bad director. I mean, you made United 93 and Captain Phillips for Pete’s sake. Heck, I’ll even give you The Bourne Ultimatum, which I did enjoy (not Supremacy though). I want to know who told you that your style of action movie filmmaking was a good one, because whoever it was is pulling your chain. I’m gonna go ahead and blame Obama for it because, you know, everything is his fault these days.

Oh sure, you can see him holding the gun, but good luck trying to figure out who and what he shoots with it!

Oh sure, you can see him holding the gun, but good luck trying to figure out who and what he shoots with it!

Maybe if the action scenes were coherently filmed, I might have been excited enough by the stunts and set-pieces to forgive the fact that the story here is basically redundant. Having Julia Stiles’ Nicky Parsons working for a Wiki-leaks type organization was a nice touch. The stuff about Jason Bourne’s father (Gregg Henry) and the International Technology event in Las Vegas was just downright silly. And once again, Jason Bourne has to put together pieces from his forgotten past and Learn the Truth before some shady government officials can take him out. Given that things were wrapped up nicely in The Bourne Ultimatum, it seems rather cynical of you to just rehash the exact same story as the previous movies (with some less than inspired alterations, of course).

Then, there’s the cast. You certainly picked a good bunch this time. I mean, Tommy Lee Jones as a shady government official? Vincent Cassel as an assassin, known only as The Asset, who has his own vendetta against Bourne? The wonderful Alicia Vikander as a very ambitious aid to Jones’ Robert Dewey? We could have at least hoped from some good performances, right? Right?!

For the love of Red Bull, everyone looks so bored here. Matt Damon looks bored, Tommy Lee Jones looks bored, and Alicia Vikander is just bland. Bland, I tell you! How did you get bad performances out of these people?!?! I can’t really blame them, because they were just doing what you told them to do. Only Vincent Cassel manages to inject some oily menace into his otherwise one-note character. He seems to be the only one trying here.

How did Greengrass get such a bad performance from this lovely and wonderful young actress?!?!

How did Greengrass get such a bad performance from this lovely and wonderful young actress?!?!

Needless to say, I had a very bad time watching your movie, Mr. Greengrass. I went in with nothing but good will and hope for its success, and left the theater feeling angry and annoyed. And while I have been writing movie reviews for Hubpages for four years now (10 years overall), this is not just a critic’s opinion here. My dad, who was just as excited for your movie as I was, hated it too, and he was especially annoyed by your shaky camera crap!

Look, I’m rooting for you friend. I want you to keep making good movies. I know you’re a talented director, and that you’ll eventually rebound from this. But if you want to keep making action movies, then I beg you to do your homework and watch the genre films that are able to do it right. You make a lot more money than I do, so I know you can afford Netflix, and I know you can afford to take a few days off, have a movie marathon, and study, study, study! For what it’s worth, I believe in you!

All the best,

Rated PG-13 for
violence and profanity

Final Grade: * ½ (out of ****)

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