Review: 'Jason Bourne' Feels 'Incredibly Stale'

PHOTO: Matt Damon appears in a scene from "Jason Bourne."PlayUniversal Pictures via AP
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Starring Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander Rated PG-13 Two-and-a-half out of five stars

It’s easy to complain about sequels, but when it’s another Jason Bourne movie reuniting Matt Damon with director Paul Greengrass, there are a couple of reasons to get excited -- namely, "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum." Both of those films are as smart as they’re intense and thrilling. Greengrass is a master of the shaky camera action sequence -- few can tell a story using that technique better than he, and with Matt Damon as his muse, "Jason Bourne" is destined to be a winning proposition. Right?

Well…

Bourne has been off the grid for 10 years but he keeps sharp by practicing underground prizefighting in Greece, probably because that location would make for a great first major action set piece, given it’s a country prone to riots. His old ally, analyst Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), finds Jason after she hacked into the CIA’s mainframe and discovered our hero’s father may have had something to do with the program that turned Bourne into a killing machine. Jason thinks that’s impossible because his father, as far as he knew, didn’t rate that high.

In the meantime, CIA director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) will do anything to stop Bourne, most notably activating another “asset” -- a cold-blooded, vicious assassin, this time convincingly played by Vincent Cassel -- with orders to eliminate Bourne once and for all.

Joining the fray is Oscar winner Alicia Vikander as Heather Lee, a CIA tech expert who can hack into networks, access cell phones in rooms across the Atlantic and use them to erase computer hard drives. She’s a genius and hot on Bourne’s trail, too -- but she doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with Dewey.

The action in "Jason Bourne" doesn’t disappoint, mostly. What does disappoint is the lackluster, stilted dialogue in the scenes with Stiles and Damon. It almost sounded like two actors rehearsing dialogue for a David Mamet play. Stiles is a fine actress but she comes across as if she had no interest in being in this movie.

So we have all this talent, both in front of and behind the camera, and yet "Jason Bourne" feels incredibly stale. I’m not particularly sure why everybody assembled thought this was a good story because it’s not. What’s meant to draw you in and elicit empathy does almost the opposite. The film’s biggest strengths are Greengrass’ action sequences which, in the end, wind up being a bit toothless, because the story and character development aren’t strong enough for you to really care about the outcome of those scenes.

Damon’s previous "Bourne" efforts have been terrific. This film, though, proves we do not need "Bourne" again.

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