It goes without saying that the original Bourne trilogy was quite popular with both critics and moviegoers – especially Supremacy and Ultimatum, both directed by Paul Greengrass. It also goes without saying that the Matt Damon-less fourth outing, starring Jeremy Renner, didn't quite hit the same heights as the first three. So there was much cheering and excitement when it was announced that nine years on, Damon and Greengrass were reteaming for a fourth Jason Bourne outing together. And here comes both the good news and the bad news – it's very much more of the same.
Former CIA operative Jason Bourne (Damon) is still trying to stay off the grid while making ends meet as a bare-knuckle fighter. But he finds himself drawn back in when his former CIA colleague Nicky (Stiles), now working with a Wikileaks-style outfit, uncovers the CIA's latest plot to use a new social media platform called Deep Dream for mass surveillance. She also find documents about Bourne's father, Richard Webb, and his involvement in the Treadstone programme. Nicky meets up with Jason in Athens, using an anti-government protest for cover, but the CIA – in the form of director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), head of the CIA Cyber Ops Division – have tracked them down (thanks to Nicky's digging into Bourne's past) and send in "The Asset" (Vincent Cassel) to assassinate them. And so the chase is on.
If you've seen the other Bourne films (well, the first three, especially the two directed by Greengrass, not the forgettable fourth one) then you know what to expect. There are two exceptional car chases, the second taking place in a bustling Las Vegas; there are firefights and fistfights; and there's a plot that doesn't make an awful lot of sense but that doesn't really matter because the film is so much fun to watch. Damon is still wonderful as Bourne, a little older and wearier here but now fully recovered from his amnesia and trying to get to the bottom of his father's involvement with the CIA. Greengrass really knows how to direct the action scenes, using his cameras superbly to put the audience right in the middle of things, and he keeps the film moving forward at a frantic pace. But the biggest problem with Jason Bourne is that it's more of the same. We have some new CIA faces in Jones and Vikander, and both are as good in their roles as you would expect them to be, but we've seen it all before. The film doesn't deviate one bit from the successful formula. It's an exhilarating and fun ride, but a little freshness would have been the icing on the cake.