Sunday, 14 August 2016

Jason Bourne; because Bourne Again would have drawn the wrong audience

There have been all kinds of takedowns on the internet of the laughable techno-babble on Jason Bourne. For me, the key moment is when the CIA nefariously shuts down the power to a whole city block to stop hackers in Iceland from breaking through the CIA’s firewall. A) it would have been quicker and easier to pull the plug on something in the CIA's own building [1], and B) edgy next-gen hackers in their own hackerspace in an abandoned factory are completely reliant on mains power? Schyeah, right. No way they’d be using a UPS and a backup generator.

That happens about ten minutes in, and acts as a wonderful statement of intent from the middle-aged lefties making the movie; technology is bad, and wicked, and evil, and wrong because anything we can’t understand must be bad and wicked and evil and wrong. Also, you can’t trust The Man, though in fairness I’ve yet to see a Hollywood movie which endorses trusting The Man.

In other news, Jason Bourne is alive and well and kicking seven bells out of everything for no readily apparent reason. Seriously, that’s his retirement plan; going around the Balkans beating people up in bare-knuckle boxing matches. We never see him getting paid for this, or eating his kills, so it’s not at all clear how he’s keeping body and soul together. It’s even less clear how Julia Stiles tracks him down when no-one else could find him, but Jason Bourne is a movie which is hoping to move fast enough that you won’t notice it’s not making any sense. There are moments when it almost pulls it off; Bourne’s escape and evasion through Athens is quick enough that its essential idiocy wasn’t readily apparent. And also, I was looking at the scenery and wishing that the camera would stop shaking long enough to see if I recognised anything. Also also, I was wondering whether they found a riot in progress when they showed up with the cameras and just ran with it, or actually planned the riot, which would have made for a fascinating meeting with the Greek police force. All a red herring; they shot the Athens bits in Tenerife. Finding that out made me feel a bit better about not recognising anything.

Bourne spends most of the movie being chased by Vincent Cassel, playing a character called the Asshat. I think they may have meant something else, but since he shoots people on a whim and we first meet him casually murdering a guy who he’s been torturing in a bathtub for days, I’m going to go with the way I heard it. The Asshat is well peeved with Bourne, whose whistleblowing led to him getting captured and almost killed, but really the only bad part of that is the “almost”. He also caps Julia Stiles’ character, continuing the Bourne series’ cheery tradition of blowing the head off any woman dumb enough to fixate of Jason Bourne for any length of time.

I was starting to wonder if - in turn - Alicia Vikander’s computer hacker-in-chief was the latest victim of Bourne’s inexplicable charm, but was immensely cheered up to see that she’d been playing him like a banjo as part of a truly stinky piece of office politics designed to displace Tommy Lee Jones. She may have been doing this on purely aesthetic grounds, since Jones showed up for work as if he was halfway through this scene in a better movie - clearly the strain of playing a villain was simply too much for his skin to stay on his cheeks any more.

And by no means least, don’t buy a Dodge Charger. Bourne and the Asshat have a great big stupid car chase at the end in which the Asshat is driving some kind of armoured truck and Bourne has the Charger. I lost count of the collisions, but in the end the Charger goes over the top of the truck and gets wedged in the entrance of a casino in Vegas [2] and the airbags still don’t deploy. Clearly, not a safe vehicle.

Matt Damon said he would only do another Bourne movie if Paul Greengrass directed it. What he probably should have said was that he would only do another Bourne movie if it had a decent script.

[1] Seriously, if an Garda Siochana can figure that out as a fix, it’s beyond ridiculous that it wouldn’t occur to the CIA.

[2] Vegas was played by Vegas, because you can destroy 170 cars in Vegas late at night and no-one will feel the need to join in.

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