So, before I start, let me say that I’m a huge Jason Bourne fan. That wasn’t always the case. I’m a huge James Bond fan as well, starting with the Roger Moore Bond in the late ’70s and early 80’s. I’ve seen every Bond movie (except 1) all the way through at least once (including the George Lazenby). For the longest, I resisted watching the Bourne films, but there was a sale on the 3 movie Bluray boxed set that I couldn’t pass up. I watched the first one and I’ve been hooked every since. This one was the one I was most excited about all summer (hoping that it would top Bourne Ultimatum after the disappointing Bourne Legacy.)
Good, but not Excellent
This is a good, strong, solid movie, but it did not surpass Bourne Ultimatum in my opinion. Rotten Tomatoes (as of current writing gives the score: 57% Critics & 68% Audience. I would give it a B- (80-83) if I were grading it academically. That would put it right on the edge of being above average.
It is an above average movie that is hampered by two significant story problems (and several other smaller problems) that I think hold it back from delivering on its promise. The characters are well done and their lives seem to logically transition from the old Bourne trilogy to where they begin this movie.
Unlike Star Trek Beyond, I saw two glaring problems that were large enough to affect the entire movie (& that’s why I think the review scores are a little on the tepid side.)
Problem 1: Good Beginning, Weak Middle, Strong Ending
The movie starts with a strong beginning. All the pieces “are in play” to use terminology from the movies. And it doesn’t take long for the set-up to pay off and for the action and intrigue that are the lifeblood of the Bourne movies to start. However, after the good beginning, the Middle of the story seems be a series of moves all designed to get all of the relevant players into one city (you know it from the trailers–but I won’t name it less it may be construed as a spoiler) for the Ending. You can almost “see” all the pieces being moved around on the “board” to get this person to the city, that person to the city, these two people to the city, etc. There’s also a “ripped from the headlines” subplot that wasn’t very well developed and might have made the story better had the filmmakers not included it.
Problem 2: Deja Vu’
For me, who has watched the boxed set of the Bourne Blurays multiple times, I felt like the filmmakers made Jason Bourne too similar to another movie in the trilogy. I won’t name which one specifically as I feel that would definitely be too “spoilery.” My contention is that many of the things that happen between that movie and this one are almost beat for beat identical (story-wise).
While there were similar elements shared by the original trilogy, each movie presented an original idea and expressed it originally. This film presents an original idea, but presents it derivatively.
Implications for my Writing
Without spoilers, the resolution of the story was great. But even better was the denouement, or the wrap-up, of the movie. That one scene seemed to turn the audience (the ones that I saw it with in my theater, at least) from neutral to somewhat positive about the movie.
What I learned from watching the audience’s reaction to the end of the movie is that a strong denouement can turn the audience to your side even if your overall structure isn’t the strongest (although it really should be). The movie’s denouement comes directly from who Jason Bourne is as a character. It might even be the movie’s THEME statement about what Jason stands for as character in that film world.
So, when I’m considering what my character’s inner conflict should be, I might always want to consider deciding at the same time what is my THEME and what might be a really unique and inventive way of showing that through the main character’s action in the denouement of the story.