I won’t be seeing Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon‘s Jason Bourne (Universal, 7.29) until next Monday’s all-media screening. It screened last night in Las Vegas, but to my knowledge no thoughts have been posted. I like the reported claim that Matt Damon has only 25 lines of dialogue. But I’m feeling a tiny bit crestfallen after hearing from a guy who saw it yesterday.
Recent insect antennae vibrations + Universal’s reluctance to hold the all-media until three days before the Thursday night opening suggested it might not be a totally wowser, power-punch knockout. Like everyone else I was hoping for something fast, crazy, smart and high-throttle. Now all I’m counting on is a riveting final half-hour. Then again it’s better if an action thriller delivers in the final 30 rather than peaking during the first or second act…right?
I’m not going to get into specifics but the last 30 minutes or so, which includes a noteworthy car chase in Las Vegas and a hand-to-hand combat sequence, are “exciting,” he confides. But that’s all that really got him. “They should have stopped at the third installment,” he says. “Or the third and a half if you count The Bourne Legacy.
Jason Bourne has “the same jiggly camera approach” — for years I’ve been calling it “Paul Greengrass shaky-cam” — but “there’s too much high-tech bullshit” when they’re chasing him in the earlier portions.
“The first 90 minutes is basically Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander in some control room, booting up instant feeds and deploying all sorts of facial-recognition software and other high-tech tricks. Vikander is the only one who gets to do anything interesting; Jones mostly spends his time glowering and barking orders.
“The final half-hour with the car chase and hand-to-hand fight are exciting. But it feels more contrived and less organic than the first three” — i.e., Doug Liman‘s The Bourne Identity (’02), Greengrass’s Bourne Supremacy (’04) and Bourne Ultimatum (’07).
Bourne shaky-cam and hyper-fast cutting became, for me, a noteworthy thing during a WGA screening of Supremacy when a woman got sick and literally threw up in the aisle. (A rattled Universal publicist pretty much ordered me not to report about this.) I didn’t notice the shaky-cam effect as much when Ultimatum popped three years later. Not did it seem as bothersome when I saw Legacy.
In my book the best action-pacing and action-cutting is when “chaos editing” is resisted, and a sense of clear-focus choreography is applied. In my book the best action-cutting has been seen in George Miller‘s Mad Max: Fury Road, Chris McQuarrie‘s Jack Reacher and Steven Soderbergh‘s Haywire.