Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Jason Bourne

(USA, UK, China, 2016)

It was too much to hope for that this fourth installment of the Bourne franchise (fifth, if you count The Bourne Legacy, a Bourne without Jason Bourne) (which I liked better than most of the critics) would be as good as the first three. My biggest hope was that it wouldn’t be awful, and it’s not. It has most of the same pulse-pounding tension of the others, maybe even a little too much, but there is some indefinable element missing this time. Bourne is still capable of responding instantly to any bad situation with an ingenious solution, and he is still usually two or three steps ahead of the implacable but rather inept forces of evil (the CIA, as always), but he isn’t quite as human as before.

The action set pieces are all gigantic, starting with one in the middle of a riot in Athens, and ending with a chase down the Strip in Las Vegas, but have become so huge that they have lost all element of believability. What we are asked to ignore here, especially in the Vegas chase, is the huge numbers of innocent bystanders who would be killed or badly injured if this happened. Though it is also absolutely impossible that Bourne and the man known only as “the Asset” could tear through the Greek streets without tossing dozens of people aside like bowling pins. It’s the same thing we see when the latest posse of clowns in spandex stage a battle in the middle of a big town and buildings come toppling down, killing literally tens of thousands … and we’re supposed to ignore that. And I’m fucking sick of it.

Like I said, it’s not awful, but it’s not nearly as good as the trilogy. And I’ll never forgive them for killing off Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), the only other interesting character left after they killed off Maria Kreutz (Franka Potente) in The Bourne Supremacy and neglected to bring back Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) from The Bourne Ultimatum.