For the fourth film set in the ‘Bourniverse’, the story of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is put to one side. Rather than using the Bourne character, the fallout from his activities are used to drive the film’s narrative thrust. So, instead of our favourite stoical, amnesia-riddled, CIA assassin with ill-defined enhancements, we instead have an all-new agent with those same trappings (minus the amnesia and the stoicism). This new chap, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), is certainly chattier than Bourne, although not as endearing. However, he can still leap from roof to roof, and that’s the main prerequisite.

The film opens in Alaska – the CIA’s training ground for rampant bad ass-ery. Our new protagonist, Aaron Cross, proves his worth by swimming in an icy plunge pool, then scrambles over a mountain ridge before cutting down trees with his wang. I’m a real sucker for survivalist bravado, as well as rugged, dramatic terrain, so this opening is basically pornography for me. Meanwhile, in New York, Eric Bayer (Edward Norton) is an outside expert brought in by the CIA to assess the aftermath of the events concerning Jason Bourne, in the third film, and deal with the fallout. It’s the actions taken by his team, to protect the CIA from future issues, which drive the plot forward. Finally, we see inside the lab of a CIA subcontractor, where Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) awkwardly assesses the progression of specially ‘enhanced’ agents. She soon finds herself enveloped in brutality, and must adapt quickly.

Once the set up is in place, the characters start interacting and the actions scenes can commence. Like all the previous films, they are enjoyable, realistic (for the most part) and well-constructed. As we’d expect, there are chases, fist fights, chases, improvised weaponry and some more chases. It occurred to me while I was watching that this is essentially a B-movie formula; the plot serving to connect a series of action scenes together. I’ve no problem with that, as long as the action scenes are entertaining, which they certainly are. My only issue with the action is there frantic nature; the shaky cam and rampant cuts distract and confuse my crusty brain. However, if you can get past that, the numerous fights and chases are damn good fun.

The plot is solidly put together, driving the action scenes, although not without flaws. The faults with the film are in both character and plot. Concerning the protagonist, I found it difficult to relate to Cross initially – his motivation seemed selfish and misguided. However, this feeling diminishes as the film goes on and we learn more about him. The predominant issue with the plot is a sense of urgency. For a thriller to work, the tension has to remain high throughout and engage the audience. I didn’t feel the necessary sense of urgency in-between the dramatic scenes, which loosened the overall grip the film exerted. If they’d shaved off about 20-30 minutes, the pacing would have enhanced the overall tension.

Despite my gripes, I think this is a worthy addition to the Bourne series, slotting in nicely, although adding relatively little to the Bourne mythology. Almost all of the action scenes are well constructed and enjoyable, with some particular set-pieces really standing out. It’s unlikely to make you punch the air, but it’s fun while it lasts (which is only slightly too long.).




  1. This movie was really great. Producers Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley said there is a fifth bourne.

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