I was thinking…
…this ‘global community’ thing is getting out of hand. Whether you’re doing business with clients in other countries or simply sitting on, watching and driving things that were all built in China, there are definitely times the old phrase ‘Made in the USA’ is woefully missing from our daily lexicon.
I, for one, am really missing the American touch when it comes to movies. Yes, films are the art of suspending disbelief, but have you taken notice recently of just how many non-Americans have been playing Americans? Watch any Christopher Nolan film and you’ll see what I’m saying.
The self-titled, latest–and perhaps final–installment of the Jason Bourne series is filled with international locales and a network of intelligence and analyst specialists from myriad countries. However, when it comes to keeping us embedded in that fictional world, it becomes more and more difficult when one of the main characters is struggling–and failing miserably–to conceal her native accent.
The aforementioned actress, Alicia Vikander, portrays a CIA cyberchief, named Heather Lee, who is tasked with helping CIA Director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones—Criminal) track down the off-the-grid ex-operative Jason Bourne (Matt Damon—The Martian [click here for the review]).
Whilst aiding Bourne, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles—10 Things I Hate About You), uncovers evidence that Bourne’s father was actually the founder of Treadstone, the very CIA program to which Bourne belonged from the start.
While dispatching an assassin (Vincent Cassel—Ocean’s 12, Black Swan) to hunt down Bourne, Dewey is also dealing with a computer magnate (Riz Ahmed–the upcoming Rogue One) refusing to allow the CIA backdoor access to his new computer application release.
A pretty simple set of circumstances, but, in usual Robert Ludlum fashion, it is made to sound ridiculously complicated.
Beside the seemingly convoluted labyrinth that fans of the series have come to expect, there are other confusing aspects of Jason Bourne that have little to do with the story.
To start with, the cinematographer, Barry Ackroyd, made many curious choices. When engaged in conversation, the characters are caught within a shaky frame, as if the filmmakers are attempting for a sense of cinéma vérité. And yet, during some of the most energetic and frenetic sequences, the camera remains still, transfixed and utterly inconsistent in feel with the scene. Weird.
There are also general inconsistencies in regard to timeline. Characters seem to traverse half the globe at ridiculous speeds–and that’s using commercial flights.
Bourne also must be slipping as a skilled assassin and spy. While infiltrating a man’s apartment in Germany, he spends the majority of the time standing near a window, in full view of a CCTV camera. He’s supposed to be in hiding in a country known for little to no privacy and he’s standing by the window?
Good job, super spy.
He’s not alone, of course. Julia Stiles’ character, who is also in hiding, does not even bother to cut or dye her hair in order to look slightly different. Nope. Still looks just like her photo ID at the agency.
Speaking of ID’s and the agency, this film spends an egregious amount of time making us look at computer screens, phone screens or people who are looking at the screens. Is this an attempt at being meta- for the hipster crowd? Ooh, we’re watching a screen with people who are looking at screens showing images of other people. Wow, that really makes me think.
No, it doesn’t.
While the action sequences are decent for the most part, they are still lacking in the sheer brutality that made some of the hand-to-hand fights in the earlier Bourne films so good. However, the car chase at the end–even though it involves the dubiously best built Dodge Challenger ever–is worth the ride.
As mentioned above, the story and plot–seemingly convoluted on the surface–is really rather bare bones and simplistic. It does not hold any of the twists and turns we have come to expect from the series, rendering Jason Bourne the weakest in the protagonist’s story arc.
And then there’s Alicia Vikander. You cannot tell me there were not plenty of other eligible and talented young women out there who could play the role of Heather Lee. Vikander struggles so hard to conceal her Swedish accent in order to sound American, it simply comes off sounding like she’s Irish and trying but failing to hide it. She had similar difficulties in last year’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (read the review here.) trying to play a German woman. She is fast becoming this generation’s Christopher Lambert–the Man of the Mysterious Accent.
As her slightly earlier work in Ex Machina (read the review here) was superb, it leaves one wondering: maybe Miss Vikander is far better suited playing women who are obviously pretending to be something they are not.
Despite all its flaws, Jason Bourne is still a fairly fun action film. Nevertheless, if they want to keep Bourne coming back to the screen and, more importantly, they want us to keep paying to put our butts in the theater seats to see him, the filmmakers are going to have to step up their game.
Ammo Dump rating: 6 out of 10 pick-pocketed hi-tech devices
I’ll talk more about this film and others during my radio show every Friday afternoon at 4:10 pm. Listen in on WJBC-AM1230 in Central Illinois. For the rest of the world, listen on @ALphaEXray.. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter
Run time: 123 minutes (2 hours 3 minutes)