Jason Bourne: Snowden Was Just The Beginning


Well, well, well. Him again? Yes, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is being hunted by the CIA…again. It all starts with his friend and former CIA-agent Nicky Parson (Julia Stiles) who helped Bourne before he went dark. She now works with an Edward Snowden-esque whistleblower and is out to expose the CIA’s covert black ops programs. She hacks the CIA and downloads all their incriminating secrets hence the black ops programs, which includes Operation Blackbriar and Treadstone (which Bourne was part of). That being said, Jason Bourne makes Edward Snowden look like a choir boy.

Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), another CIA operative spots the hack and brings it to the attention of CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), the mind behind the missions. What follows is a cat and mouse chase between the full power of the Crime Intelligence Agency Parsons and Bourne. Many secrets are uncovered and this new information forces Bourne to come back to a life that he thought he had left behind. Whistleblowers, government surveillance, civil unrest in Greece as well as corruption in corporations; this movie couldn’t be more relevant to 2016.

Jason Bourne (Damon) & Nicky Parsons (Stiles) (Jason Bourne, Universal Pictures)

Jason Bourne (Damon) & Nicky Parsons (Stiles)
(Jason Bourne, Universal Pictures)

I have to be honest. This fifth installment to the Bourne franchise was unnecessary  but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It was a quick money grab if anything but it has turned out to be my favourite movie in the franchise. Where it lacks in cut throat action sequences, it makes up for it with a relevant and thought-provoking, real-world storyline, incorporating the hysteria of a post-Snowden CIA, in conjunction to the morally questionable ideologies behind domestic surveillance. Despite the Patriot Act making it legal, does that make it right? That’s one of the questions we have to ask with things like this. Just because you’re criminally in the clear that doesn’t mean your conscience won’t take beating. Moral crimes are very evident in things like this, even if you’re not spending time behind bars.

The making of Jason Bourne was utterly pointless. After the fitting ending of Bourne Ultimatum, we didn’t need another Bourne movie. But this is Hollywood, and money talks. Matt Damon (The Martian) and director Paul Greengrass are back and they’ve made an absolute corker of a movie, truth be told. We are witness to a brief recap to the story so far, from Identity to Ultimatum, selectively forgetting Bourne Legacy, fortunately. We see David Webb volunteering for this black ops program, becoming Bourne and the rest is history. Exposing corruption within the US government hasn’t brought Jason any peace. He’s still out for retribution, putting all his anger and rage into knock-off MMA as a bare-fists boxer.

The slippery and untrustworthy Agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) (Jason Bourne, Universal Pictures)

The slippery and untrustworthy Agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander)
(Jason Bourne, Universal Pictures)

Occasional ally and former-girlfriend Nicky Parson (Stiles) has been underground, taking leaves out of Snowden’s book by ruffling feathers and rattling cages that shouldn’t be ruffled; annoying some very powerful people in high places. She needs Bourne’s help and our tag team unite to take down a greater enemy. They meet in the Greek capital during civil unrest outside the Parliament building but Big Brother has his eye on them, ushering the movie’s first action sequence in the middle of a fully fledged riot.

Key characters in the movie include CIA Director (Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) who knows more about Bourne than he’s letting on. We also have Heather Lee, head of the agency’s tech division. Another killer is introudced. He is a Jason Bourne-esque character called the Asset who is just as capable of killing as Bourne. Lastly, there’s who I found to be the most interesting of them all. His name is Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed); a Mark Zuckerberg-esque character, the CEO of social network company called Deep Dream Corporation. He’s big on internet privacy and preaches “privacy is freedom” whilst basking in the juices of corruption with CIA boss Robert Dewey.

A Shit V A Dungheap. Heather Lee (Vikander) and Director Dewey (Jones)
(Jason Bourne, Universal Pictures)

All the cast give excellent performances. But this movie wins with its updated and relevant storylines.  This film lacks in action scenes, despite being a spy thriller but I’ve had enough of watching Matt Damon cracking skulls. This is an intelligent spy flick in its own right. Not all spy movies need to have fights every five seconds. Tommy Lee Jones plays the no-nonsense director with Vikander (Danish Girl) playing the opportunistic operative and Riz Ahmed as the spineless  social media mongrel. When you’re in the CIA’s pocket, there’s no getting out. Damon is as cut throat as ever, especially in the last punch up with The Asset. It was unexpected, savage and brutal.

A great movie to be watched in this time of growing political anxieties and big brother societies