Wednesday, November 23, 2016

3+1 Short Paragraphs: Jason Bourne

2016, Paul Greengrass (Green Zone) -- download

Built like a brick shit house. It was something my family used to say, either my mother or my father, but really neither of them were ever so crude. The one time I got my father to scream "fuck!" at me, I had frustrated & angered him so much, he chased me around the house with a shoe. I am sure whomever would have inspired that idiom, would have deserved it.

Jason Bourne begins the latest Bourne movie built like a brick shit house. Seriously, after the skinnied down kid from The Martian he is absolutely gigantic. His troubled past has left him lost, angry and taking the pain out on others in the back alley street fights of Istanbul; or was it Greece? He knocks people down, takes money and moves on. Jason can never really escape what he was, nor what discovering made him end up doing. There is a lot of blood on his hands, and not of those who can get up again. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) knows this, and is trying to help him find out who made him who he is, who he was. You thought we already knew? Nope; another enigmatic weirdly named program has emerged and with it, the names of others have as well -- including Jason's (David Webb actually) own father. Jason has some more digging to do.

The problem with this movie is that it is do deeply steeped in the format of the others. A woman with only his best intentions at heart has to die. There has to be a sniping in a crowded pubic place. There has to be a chase in an exotic locale, there has to be a car chase in a western locale. And there has to be another old white man at the centre of all of it. This time, the more-moral-than-old-white-guys female character is Alicia Vikander, but at least she gets to play a bit more nuanced than Joan Allen. I just wished her terrible America accent didn't come with such nasal intonations. But she doesn't save this movie from the humdrum cookie cutter acts, which even so, I have to admit, are still rather thrilling to watch. Which is why more get made. Hell, I am the guy still likes the Taken movies, so who am I to talk.

One aspect of the plot had me pondering creative intentions. The Bourne movies always stood up to the recent American ideals that it was alright to do "whatever it takes to keep America safe". Jason Bourne, the assassin, was a product of that. But the man at his centre thought they had taken it too far. Along comes Heather Lee (Vikander) who says Jason is still a patriot, still a good tool for America as long as he is convinced to come back into the fold. So, is the movie setting a new tone for future entries in the franchise where the next program is more morally aligned with America of today? One where America will still use assets (assassins) but only in certain context? The fact that her duplicity derails her intentions may be the poignant statement, that there is no context where killing to further American agenda fits in.