Thursday, 17 November 2016

Jack Reacher – Never Go Back

Tom Cruise has been an action star ever since the 90s at the very least. As such, he had something of a dip in his career in the 2000’s, probably mostly for personal reasons, but also because the action film in general has been in something of a crisis over the last decade. Today, things are looking up again and in no small part due to Cruise’s partnerships with Doug Liman and Christopher McQuarrie, with whom he has consistently delivered strong action fare ranging from the first “Jack Reacher” to “Mission Impossible 6: Rogue Nation”. They are so good together, over the next years, we can expect another four collaborations to hit our screens. The sequel to “Jack Reacher”, sadly, doesn’t see McQuarrie return to either direct or write, and it shows.

“Never Go Back” sees Reacher reconnecting with his past as he goes back to Washington D.C. and on the way, strikes up a tentative relationship with Major Turner, who is now doing his old job, over the phone. Things get complicated when he arrives and finds Major Turner in custody for espionage. As he is trying to investigate, he also meets a young teenager who might be his daughter. Director Edward Zwick has worked with Cruise before on “The Last Samurai”, but the partnership is not nearly as fruitful as the ones described above. That is not to say that “Never Go Back” is completely without merit, it’s certainly an entertaining movie for the most part, but it falls short on so many counts, it’s infuriating. But before we get to that, some praise.

The action is handled quite well. It’s mostly hand-to-hand combat, which is shot well, especially when Reacher and Cobie Smulders’ Major Turner have to work together. Reacher, Turner and the sinister operative that is on their heels are all very capable, and especially Smulders proves that between this and Maria Hill in the Avengers franchise, she can absolutely sell an action scene. The violence is also not softened up too much, so when people get hit, the audience feels it.

The setting and the conflict it represents for Reacher is also very intriguing, but here the film falls flat because it tries to do too much for one film. In the original film, we met Jack Reacher, an intriguing character, who presents an interesting spin on the original conception of John Rambo, the veteran who found that upon returning from war, he didn’t fit in with society anymore. So, Reacher steps out of it completely. He is a vagabond who isn’t tied down by anything or anyone. The second intriguing aspect is that Reacher didn’t just finish his tour of duty, he left the army by his own volition, and we don’t know exactly why.

 The film wants to challenge Reacher on every aspect of this at the same time. Not only does Reacher start the film flirting with Major Turner, a possibly lasting human connection, who is also working in his former job as an MP, a connection to his days with the army, it also gives him a possible daughter in Samantha, not just a possible connection, but an obligation, which he clearly feels. I found myself plotting out how these questions could better be confronted over the course of two sequels, rather than one. The short version: The daughter must go.

This would also free up some screen-time for Patrick Heusinger to develop the antagonist a bit more and Aldis Hodge, who plays Captain Espin, an MP who holds a grudge against Reacher from his days in the military. Every single supporting character in this film presents a great opportunity to interrogate Reacher’s character further, but none of them does so in any significant way. This is most annoying when Major Turner doesn’t push back against him. Turner should have been a version of Reacher who stayed in the military and wants to go back (something Reacher can never do, as the title reminds us). However, one of the first conversations they have in person has her explicitly stating her sympathy with his point of view, and the script never brings her back from that.

Major Turner is also the awkward centre of an attempt to deliver on the obvious desire for stronger female characters in action cinema. We have seen so many great ones in the last few years, two of those opposite Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Rogue Nation”. However, “Never Go Back” stumbles by giving her an awkward speech about the sexism she has encountered in her career, only to be steamrolled by Reacher within seconds. It’s especially infuriating because for a lot of it, the film is on the right path. Turner is capable, layered and while there is a romantic streak to her relationship with Reacher, she is not defined by it. Regrettably, the script doesn’t manage to keep the focus on those aspects and in the end, this turns out to be just one more aspect where the writer put the foundation for greatness into place and then chose to build somewhere else.

Ultimately, “Never Go Back” still works as an entertaining two hours at the cinema, but even in a relatively weak year for cinema, this still falls through the cracks. I was excited for it, but we have seen so much better in the last few years.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Doctor Strange

Director Scott Derrickson claimed during the promotion for the latest entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that he had put things on screen that had never been seen like that before. It’s a bold claim to make, especially since we have at least seen traces of what was to come in “Matrix” and “Inception”. Unquestionably though, “Doctor Strange” is a visual spectacle that is up there with the most inventive that the silver screen has had to offer in the last decades. But does the rest of the film hold up as well?

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Doctor Stephen Strange, the arrogant surgeon, whose stellar career ends abruptly when a car accident leaves him with nerve damage in his hands. Robbed of the tools of his trade, he begins a journey to find healing which leads him to Kamar-Taj, refuge of the Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton. Here, he aims to learn the magic arts to heal himself and reclaim his old life, but he is pulled into the fight against Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius, a zealot who poses a threat to earth against which the Avengers are helpless.

The cast is stellar. When Benedict Cumberbatch was cast, I was at the height of Cumber-fatigue, annoyed by his over-exposure and a completely undeserved Academy Award nomination for “The Imitation Game” (God how I hate that film…), but I’ve had time to calm down and he does a great job (as he has always done, I would never dispute his talent). In the opening minutes, he tracks Strange’s descent into a dark place. With the possible exception of Tony Starks paranoia from “Iron Man 3” onwards, it’s probably the darkest any of Marvel’s heroes has gotten, and Cumberbatch does it in twenty minutes of screen time. In terms of establishing his character, the first twenty minutes of “Doctor Strange” are amazing. It seeds aspects of his character visually that pay off later when we do not need dialogue to stress the meaning of certain aspects of his character, but more on that later. From there on, his arc becomes one of letting go of his selfish nature, on which the film continually challenges him, constantly questioning his motivations. It is an amazingly rewarding performance to watch and Cumberbatch gives Strange a degree of depth that arguably some of Marvel’s heroes have not reached after several films (A certain Asgardian warrior comes to mind, as much as I love him).

The most brilliant piece of casting however is Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. When her casting was announced, well-meaning but misguided forces on the internet were screaming white-washing, just as they did when it turned out that the MCU’s Mandarin was not a moustache-twirling Chinese man. What they failed to realize was that both the Mandarin and the Ancient One are characters rooted in stereotypical and reductive depictions of oriental “others” that we should either avoid or challenge. There is a pragmatic argument for this, which is that Marvel doesn’t want to offend one of its biggest markets, China, which is why the Ancient One, economically, could never have been Nepalese, as he is in the comics. However, throughout the MCU, there is also a growing effort to include more diversity which is not economically motivated.

The Casting of Tilda Swinton not only sidesteps that; it also gives the role to an incredible actress. She takes the challenge of the role, which is not only rooted in racial, but also narrative, stereotypes, and complicates it. The film dedicates almost as much time to Strange learning from her as it spends on him questioning her authority and teachings, and it encourages that. To say too much here would be considered a spoiler. Suffice it to say, Swinton takes the Sorceress Supreme and takes her to new and interesting places.

Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius has been dismissed by many as the usual case of a Marvel villain who is functional but barely more than that. While in general I can’t completely disprove this, I would still argue that he is above average in the MCU and with a few minor tweaks would legitimately count as a great villain. As it is, he fits in perfectly with the philosophy of the film and asks exactly the right questions. He is a man who stood in the same place as Strange does now and took a different turn, which always makes for an intriguing antagonist and Mads Mikkelsen has a hypnotic charm whenever he is on screen. What holds him back the most is that during Strange’s magical education, certain rules are not stated clearly enough, which robs some of Kaecilius transgressions against those rules of impact. A slightly different edit of this film might have seen a much more threatening Kaecilius.

Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor shine in the smaller supporting roles. The task of a supporting character is to provide contrast to the main character so the audience can learn something new about them. Early in the film, McAdams does great work in filling in the past her character Christine Palmer shares with Strange. She plays brilliantly against Cumberbatch and his amazingly quick characterization of Strange in the beginning of the film is only possible because he can act off McAdams. Sadly, her character then vanishes from the film for large sections, but when she comes back, it’s extremely entertaining to watch her have the weirdest day of her life. Still, I hope that she gets more to do in the inevitable sequel, especially since she would be great as the audience surrogate who has no idea of magic.

At about the same time McAdams moves out of the spotlight, Ejiofor enters. He plays Baron Mordo, a student of the Ancient One, and soon a friend and teacher to Strange. His sincerity and strictness provide great contrast to Cumberbatch’s questioning of rules and practices. Once again, the script manages to provide great depth with very little dialogue. The relationship Mordo and Strange share is fascinating and bound to become only more so in future instalments.

In general, I loved the writing in this film. Apart from one ill-judged reference to the wider MCU towards the end, it is excellent and full of subtleties that only begin to shine upon re-watching the film. There is a particularly brilliant dialogue between Doctor Strange and the Ancient One in their astral forms, which achieves intricate developments for both characters at the same time. The movie also resists the temptation to over-explain. It keeps the magic vague enough to stay intriguing, while at the same time explaining enough to not be too confusing. The only time I would have wished for a bit more explicit explanation relates to one of Kaecilius acts of magic and has already been mentioned above.

Finally, it’s time to talk at length about the visuals of this film. Steve Ditko’s psychedelic style that has been a staple of Doctor Strange in the comics since his creation leaps from the page in this adaptation. Whether Strange is tumbling through different dimensions, Kaecilius is folding reality in on itself or the sorcerers are simply conjuring up weapons to fight each other, the visuals are breath-taking. Derrickson embraces the soft circular lines and kaleidoscopic imagery that characterizes the comics and lets these define the visual language of his film, even when magic is not involved.

And to be honest, this maybe even impressed me more than the big visual spectacle. The MCU films have always been competently directed, but often visually speaking quite conservative, possibly a result of Marvel often hiring TV directors who are used to working within a framework set by others and not deviating too much from the established style. Derrickson however approaches “Doctor Strange” by setting up clear visual motifs for the things that are important to his characters. We focus early on Strange’s hands, the way he uses them to do his job as a neurosurgeon. This not only prepares us to feel his loss after the accident without expending dialogue until it is needed, it also paves the way for the intricate gestures involved in performing magic later.

The other major theme is time. From the beginning, time is presented as something important to Strange, something he is always acutely aware of, be it the year a record came out or the time he has until a patient suffers irreversible nerve damage. He has a whole drawer dedicated to his expensive watches, neatly spinning, tying in that circular motif I mentioned above. While the focus on his hands pays off almost immediately, his relationship to time is more of a slow burn, but it becomes increasingly important as the film goes on.

However, time is also where I would place one of the few flaws of the film. The film is paced very tightly, it never gets boring, but in the effort to keep the film moving, some opportunities may have been squandered. During the time we spend with Strange, a few more scenes with Kaecilius would not have hurt the film and increased his impact. Also, for a film that is so obsessed with time, the actual amount of time that goes by is not communicated very clearly. It should be at least one or two years, and nothing contradicts that, but it’s also not made explicit, the only reference being a vague “after all this time” from McAdams when Strange re-enters her life. It would have been great to feel that time a bit more, especially as it gives opportunity to elaborate on looming danger of Kaecilius, who could strike at any time. Because when he strikes, it happens fast and unrelentingly. An opportunity to build more tension was lost here. Apart from this, the film has been criticized for not always landing its jokes. I did not have that experience, as the audiences I saw the film with responded well to the humour, which is a great mixture of dialogue and visual jokes. Finally, the film boasts two post credits scenes, but for the first time, I would actually recommend leaving after the first one, since I believe that the second one overreaches in its foreshadowing of future events and makes a leap with one of the characters that might best be experienced as part of the sequel, especially for people who are not acquainted with the source material.

Overall, I’m amazed by how much I loved this film. It was always going to be a visual spectacle, and Marvel always guarantees a certain level of quality. However, the filmmaking on display here goes above and beyond that. Marvel is setting up the future of their Universe beyond the big throw-down with Thanos in Infinity War and Doctor Strange might just prove to be the linchpin for that in the same way Tony Stark has been so far. Benedict Cumberbatch certainly seems up for it and I hope that Marvel invite Derrickson back to play with their toys as well.

Friday, 2 September 2016

The Bourne Legacy

Jason Bourne has resurfaced, a reporter for the Guardian is writing about Blackbriar and the CIA is in full damage control mode. They bring on Edward Norton to assess the situation and navigate the fallout. His plan: Close down everything that can be traced to Blackbriar, including the completely separate Outcome program. All over the globe, Outcome agents, physically and mentally enhanced through a virus, are being poisoned or taken out by other means. Only Jeremy Renner manages to evade the drones send to kill him and is searching for a way to ensure his supply of the enhancing chemicals he needs.

Such is the plot of The Bourne Legacy, the Jeremy Renner spin-off to the Bourne trilogy. On release it got middling reviews. However, I wanted to give the movie a second chance, seeing as there’s a new Bourne movie in cinemas right now. And honestly, what a nice surprise this film was. I didn’t remember too much from the last (and only) time I watched it, except for the fact that towards the third act there is a period without action that goes on too long followed by a motorcycle chase that goes on way too long. Some of that is still true, but apart from that, The Bourne Legacy is actually really good.

First, the story is actually pretty great. The Bourne trilogy, great as it is, tends to blend together for a lot of people, because the story follows roughly the same structure each time. The Bourne Legacy keeps some of that but offers a few nice twists. The team around Edward Norton for example, trying to limit the damage that the revelation of Jason Bourne and Blackbriar, are constantly reacting to the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, which takes place at the same time.

Another nice variation is the Outcome program itself. Whereas Treadstone and Blackbriar worked with behavioural modification, Outcome is based on chemistry. Also, throughout the film we get the sensation that Outcome agents are also used differently. The first time we meet Aaron Cross, our protagonist, he is absolving a training course for Outcome agents in the Canadian wilderness. In a flashback, we see Aaron Cross after a mission, in a warzone. Compare this to Blackbriars urban infiltration agents.

Cross is definitely closer to the classic special forces action hero, but he has the same air of competence around him that makes Bourne so compelling to watch. An early scene shows him going up against a military drone, switching between him and the drone control room. The cold, almost bored atmosphere in the control room contrasts brilliantly with Cross’ laser-focussed action. Renner conveys the feeling that he is expending exactly the amount of energy that is needed to take down the drone, not a bit more or less. And when he does, everything flips. The control room is taken over by confusion, while Renner calms down instantly and focusses on the next goal.

But action is nothing without character, and here, The Bourne Legacy shines just as well. Cross is different from Bourne. He has different goals and a different past. Just like Bourne, he is driven by his main weakness. Bourne is trying to overcome his amnesia, while Cross needs to figure out a way to beat his dependency on the skill-enhancing chemicals. However, just quitting isn’t an option, since he is still hunted. And apart from that, Cross gets to show a little bit of wit and charm as well. Edward Norton also plays a very compelling antagonist. He isn’t simply hunting Cross, he has a bigger mission and Cross is part of it. We see him in meetings trying to convince his superiors of the sacrifices that are necessary to survive the revelations of The Bourne Ultimatum. Finally, there is Rachel Weisz, who plays a doctor helping Aaron Cross. She starts off strong and plays the trauma she goes through very convincingly, however, of all the characters, she suffers most in the third act and ends the film almost Bond-girl-like.

And that’s really where the problem lies. The first hour of this movie is absolutely spectacular. The action takes what we know from Jason Bourne and re-contextualizes it, puts it in different settings. The characters are different, but clearly belong in this universe. It is a brilliant spin-off, until it starts spinning its wheels without moving anywhere in the third act. There are a few scenes of Aaron Cross showing off his infiltration skills, which are fine, but when it comes to the final action scene, a bike chase, it just goes on too long. Not only that, it goes on for too long, comes to an end, and then starts again, just to go on for a few more minutes. The action is fine, but the pacing is off. And then the film doesn’t do itself any favours by ending in the most clichéd James Bond ending you could think of.

So that’s it. The Bourne Legacy, a great spin-off that just doesn’t stick the landing. Having seen Jason Bourne, the newest entry in the franchise, I have to say, I prefer Legacy. It is a more uneven film, certainly, and no moment in Jason Bourne falls as low as The Bourne Legacy does towards the end, but Jason Bourne also never reaches the same heights.

Suicide Squad

DC is really having a tough year. First, public opinion turned on the hugely anticipated Batman V. Superman – Dawn of Justice when they, in a completely baffling marketing move, included Doomsday in a trailer. Because Batman and Superman on screen together, duking it out, was obviously not going to be enough of a draw… Then of course the movie came out and just wasn’t great. Some people liked it, me included, to a certain degree, but the flaws were obvious. The release of the Ultimate Cut might have improved the movie a bit, but the cynicism of cutting the film apart to squeeze some extra money on the home video release left a bitter taste. And then there’s Suicide Squad…

Suicide Squad came with high anticipation, thanks to a stellar marketing campaign, a great cast and a director with a distinctive voice. But then the rumours started and talk of reshoots and competing cuts made people wary. And now it’s out and is not receiving the warmest reception, although it is making a lot of cash at the box office. So what’s the deal here?

At the beginning we meet Amanda Waller, who is proposing the formation of a squadron of the worst criminals in order to prepare for the future in the aftermath of Batman V. Superman. In the event of another meta-human crisis, she proposes to send in expendable forces in the form of Will Smith’s Deadshot, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Cara Delevigne’s Enchantress and a bunch of assorted baddies. But when Enchantress turns out to be hard to control and sparks an incident in Midway City, she has to put her Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad, to use earlier than she thought. But their mission is complicated further by the Joker’s attempts to free Harley Quinn.

Despite everything I’m about to say about this film, it’s fun. Will Smith, Margot Robbie and (surprisingly) Jay Courtenay as Captain Boomerang are so much fun to watch, the film has a cool look to it and from time to time the movie everyone was expecting shines through.

However, damn this movie is a mess. After Batman V. Superman was received badly, the stakes for this were high, which is why I get that a studio would want to get involved in the editing process. But there’s a hint of Fant4stic to this, as they did not manage to give Joel Kinnaman the same haircut he had during principal photography in the reshoots. Now it’s at least the same colour, so we’re not quite at a Kate-Mara-wig-situation yet, but this is the level of chaos you can expect for this movie.

If anything saves this movie and makes it watchable, it’s the characters in the movie. Or… at least three or four of them. Will Smith plays his usual Will Smith character, which might be disappointing, but he hasn’t done that for so long, so it’s like meeting an old friend. He does also manage to give Deadshot a little bit of an edge, so he fits in quite well, because a little bit of an edge is all we’re going to get. Harley Quinn is absolutely delightful and completely insane. I hope that WB stick to their plan of more Harley-centred films. However, they should polish the writing on her, because a lot of her stuff worked despite the writing rather than because of it (and some of it didn't, at all). And maybe the biggest surprise to me was that I didn’t hate Jay Courtenay. In fact, Captain Boomerang is great as a comic relief from time to time. Once again though, a lot of rough edges have been sanded off here. Finally, El Diablo is much better than expected and gets some really cool moments.

The editing in this movie is absolutely terrible. There are so many weirdly placed flashbacks, the final fight scene is shot and edited to minimise enjoyment, with lots of smoke and little light, and most of the characters get nothing to do for the whole movie only to get a small moment shoe-horned in towards the end. Katana doesn’t even get that. They literally spell it out for the audience that she has a sword that steals souls, which she then proceeds to not do for the entire movie. Even Harley Quinn, who is great fun, does almost nothing to advance the main story until the very last moment.
If you listen to Joss Whedon talking about his experience on the Avengers movies, those movies are crafted incredibly methodically to allow for every member of the team to contribute, get their character moments AND also to look really cool at some point. Some members of the Suicide Squad barely get one of those (This would be a great moment to mention Killer Croc, because where else would I, he does nothing).

This film is ultimately an exercise in frustration. Rumours about deleted scenes show that there was a much darker, more interesting movie in here. One in which the Squad wasn’t just a bunch of heroes with bad behaviour, but actual villains. One in which the Joker isn’t wasted on a handful of scenes. Seriously, I wanted to write a paragraph about him, but I wouldn’t know what to write. I liked Jared Leto in the role, but there’s so little of him. There are so many more things I could mention, like the intensely dissatisfying third act.

What annoys me most is the idiocy behind it. I have given WB the benefit of the doubt so far, but at this point, any good movie they deliver will take me by surprise. They are trying to ape Marvel as much as they can, but the one thing that makes Disney and Marvel Studios so good at what they do is working together with their talent and providing an infrastructure geared towards quality. WB however seems to be actively working against the talented people they hire. Man of Steel came out in 2013, three years ago, and was supposed to be the start of DC's cinematic universe. Three years, but when it came to Suicide Squad, David Ayer had six weeks to come up with a script and start shooting. That's the attitude I have when it comes to writing term papers, but my term papers don't cost 175 million dollars. That's just bad business. And not only that, people didn’t respond to the dour tone of BVS, so they made Suicide Squad, a movie about the bad guys, which has every reason in the world to be dark, lighter. This kind of reactionary behaviour speaks to the fact that no one at WB has a cohesive vision for their universe. Man of Steel promised a serious deconstruction of superheroes, which BVS tried and failed to deliver. Suicide Squad wasn’t even allowed to try.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne

From time to time, film genres are redefined by with a single stroke. Doug Liman’s The Bourne Identity hit cinemas like a bomb and changed the spy thriller, only to be surpassed again by Paul Greengrass‘ The Bourne Supremacy. Suddenly, action was filmed almost exclusively in shaky-cam and James Bond traded his gadgets in for more realistic gear. Of course, with the exception of Casino Royale, nobody ever got close to matching the Bourne-trilogy, not even its own spin-off, The Bourne Legacy. Now, years later, as films like The Raid and John Wick seem to point to the end of the era of Bourne, Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon reteam to bring Jason Bourne back to our screens.

Jason Bourne finds its titular hero hiding out in Greece, where he enjoys the beach, good food and pit fighting for money. Okay, mostly the pit fighting and less of the enjoyment. He’s gone a little bit grey, but he hasn’t lost his edge, which he demonstrates via spectacular one-punch K.O. as shown in the trailer. His quiet life of handing out knuckle sandwiches ends when, in a scene that is copied beat-for-beat from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, franchise regular Nikki Parsons shows up to recruit him. She has gone all Snowden and hacked the CIA, stealing all the records regarding the so-called Beta-Programs, including Treadstone, Blackbriar, Outcome and the focus of this film, Iron Hand. The rest of the film has Bourne try to uncover more of his own past while simultaneously evading capture by the CIA, represented by Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander and Vincent Cassel.

There are numerous reasons why the Bourne films are as good as they are. First, Matt Damon gives Bourne the vulnerability that so many of the greatest action heroes possess. John McClane has no shoes, Jason Bourne has no memories. He is constantly confused, always hunted and never gets to rest. Second, everything he does, he does in a unique way. Whether he shows off his deadly skills with a pen or a magazine, leads the police in a car chase through Paris in a Mini or moves through a crowd unseen, you know Bourne when you see him in action. He has a distinct set of skills and strategies. Third, the Bourne movies always have a very clear sense of space. When Bourne knows he’s about to be in a car chase, he doesn’t just drive, he looks at a map to find the best route. Sadly, in all of these categories, Jason Bourne is just slightly less than the franchise used to be.

Matt Damon is still great in the role, but the character arc this movie gives him, involving the relationship with his father, just doesn’t play. The previous Bourne films each had a character arc that grew believably out of what came before, while this one just feels thrown in. In general, it almost feels like Bourne is a side character in his own movie at times, which can work (and it does so very well in one extended set-piece), but ultimately makes the film feel a little bit hollow. There’s also a weird double-revenge-plot, which doesn’t work for even a second. The supporting cast, especially Vikander and Stiles, do reasonably well for themselves, although Vincent Cassel is so essentially French to me that I had some trouble to buy him as an American operative.

The action is probably the most underwhelming. That is not to say that it is not good, but from a Bourne movie by Paul Greengrass, I had expected much more. The opening action scene, which takes place during a riot in Athens, would be good enough if the ending wasn’t telegraphed so heavily. It does show Bourne being Bourne, and that’s fine. However, the other side of the conflict, Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones in a control room, devolves into Hollywood-hacking, i.e. Alicia Vikander sitting at a computer and hacking everything. There’s no complication, so these scenes are not compelling. The strongest set piece is an attempt by Bourne to meet an informant in London. It gets wonderfully complicated and for the most part, Jason Bourne is off-screen, keeping the audience unsure of what his actual plan is. It’s the most Bourne this movie gets. Finally, there is that car chase from the trailer, a SWAT-car against a Limousine, which is undeniably a well-executed action sequence, even though it goes on a little bit too long. However, it’s also doesn’t really feel like Bourne. Compared to the spectacular Mini chase from Identity, this just feels like spectacle.

And that’s ultimately the problem. Jason Bourne is certainly a fun action film, with competent direction and acting, but for some reason it takes the Hollywood motto “bigger is always better” to a franchise that has always excelled by being very grounded. This is evident even in the actual objective of our antagonists, a program to spy on the whole world via social networks. The franchise that used to show James Bond and Mission Impossible the way has now fallen behind and recycled the plot of the last two entries into those franchises.

Finally, the most damning piece of criticism I can give this film is that I re-watched the ugly stepchild of the franchise, The Bourne Legacy, the day after and found it more engaging. While Jeremy Renner’s adventure tanks in the third act and certainly reaches a lower point than Jason Bourne, but the first two thirds are phenomenal and way more exciting than anything in this new adventure.