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Jason Bourne faced an unrealistically high expectation: living up to one of the greatest film trilogies in motion picture history, and justifying the extension of the Bourne franchise into future installments. But while many of this summer’s sequels have fallen flat, Jason Bourne takes off, both exploring the past of the titular character and setting the characters within a distinctly modern and relevant world. It’s a visceral, intense, and pro-Snowden action film that not only provides some of the greatest action scenes of the year so far, but also an intelligence to the story that feels timely.

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still on the run from the government authorities, and following new information regarding his past, Bourne makes a resurgence into international affairs. Pursued by the director of the CIA (Tommy Lee Jones) and his ambitious young protege (Alicia Vikander), Bourne seeks to learn the truth behind a charismatic entrepreneur (Riz Ahmed) and his popular new computer program. While the film doesn’t quite hit on the emotional level of the original trilogy, it’s impressive that it can touch on such modern issues as privacy and security with depth, while not sacrificing the lightning fast pacing or intelligently crafted conspiracy at the heart of the film.

Matt Damon is without a doubt one of the best actors working today, and Bourne continues to be one of his most iconic roles. Damon brings back a more edgy, yet also more fragile Bourne, one that’s tested by his past and uncertain about his future. Tommy Lee Jones is typecast in one of his signature roles, but he’s quite fun and offers some of the film’s best exchanges. However, the breakout of the new cast is Alicia Vikander, who carries much of the film as an opposing force to Bourne who matches him in intellect, and can find sympathy in his cause.

Jason Bourne had no easy task, and while the film may lack some of the emotional depth of the original films, it’s still a visceral ride with some riveting action. Paul Greengrass’s ability to captivate an audience cannot be understated, and the art to which he stages giant set pieces amongst plot and character development is remarkable. Light years ahead of The Bourne Legacy, Jason Bourne is one of the highlights of the summer, a fun and fulfilling journey. Grade: -A

For more if my thoughts on Jason Bourne, check out my appearance on “After Credits”:

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