The world has caught up to the Bourne movies, and the latest installment doesn’t deny it, name-checking Snowden at least twice and featuring an Assange-like character and a global network of hackers. After Bourne Legacy, which should’ve been a better movie considering the hellish inconvenience we in Metro Manila had to endure while it was being shot, Jason Bourne brings back the elements that made the series work: its original star Matt Damon, who has less and less dialogue as the series goes on, and the director responsible for its relentlessly kinetic style, Paul Greengrass. (It is also unswervingly loyal to Moby, whose song is still played over the closing credits.) This movie is almost exactly like the previous ones, with new players. Tommy Lee Jones is the scheming CIA guy, Alicia Vikander the hotshot surveillance girl, and Bourne’s former handler Julia Stiles sets events in motion. Vincent Cassel is the fearsome fighting opponent, a role that was filled by Clive Owen, Marton Csokas and Karl Urban, among others. The new element: Riz Ahmed as a tech billionaire launching a social media platform that guarantees privacy. As for character development, we don’t get speeches, we get fists—to punish himself, Bourne participates in underground fights.
If it’s the same movie, why should we watch it? Because it is executed so well, and it just hurtles along so fast, we have no time to complain that it’s all been done. Greengrass takes the most memorable elements from the previous movies—the car chases, the hand-to-hand combat, the tradecraft, the surveillance—then ratchets up the degree of difficulty. The chase scenes occur in even more crowded locations: a protest march in Greece, a tightly-packed convention center, a traffic jam in Las Vegas. It’s all chaos and confusion, and yet we always know where Bourne is in relation to his pursuers. Clarity! Geography! We see a world that seems to be falling apart, but its silent center holds.