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Movie Night – ‘Jason Bourne’ brings up issue of personal rights vs public safety

By Bradley Griffith

You know his name.  At least, that’s what the posters tell us.  I would wager that the posters are right, there are very few people reading this review that have never heard his name.  Jason Bourne is back in the new action movie that shares his name and packs a punch.

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is in exile.  It’s been ten years since he last appeared on the radar of the CIA when he exposed Operation Blackbriar and disappeared into thin air.  Bourne is no longer an amnesiac, he remembers everything.  Even so, he still prefers to stay in the shadows, to live a life of anonymity.

Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) has been living in the shadows after she helped Bourne expose Operation Blackbriar from inside the CIA.  Though she lives in secret, she wants to illuminate all the dark places where the CIA is treading undetected, the black ops of the intelligence giant.  Nicky is working with a hacktivist group who is not unlike WikiLeaks.

Nicky soon discovers that the CIA has begun a new secret operation.  She also finds more information on Bourne’s past.  She learns that the CIA had been conducting surveillance on Bourne before he was Bourne, back when he was known as David Webb.  She also discovers information on Bourne’s father who was a CIA analyst.

Nicky needs to meet with Bourne and he needs the information she has about his past.  Even though his amnesia is gone, there are many things about his own history that he doesn’t know.  Bourne agrees to meet Nicky in Athens, Greece.  But Bourne isn’t the only one looking to find Nicky.

Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) is the new head of the CIA’s cyber ops division.  CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) allows Lee to lead the chase for Nicky, with close supervision.  Lee tracks Nicky to Athens, where everyone in the room recognizes long-lost Jason Bourne.  Bourne spends the remainder of the movie trying to track down information about his past and avoid the CIA searchers.

“Jason Bourne” brings back everything you expect in a Bourne movie.  There’s secret files, guns battles, snipers, an evil CIA mastermind, and an epic car chase on steroids.  Bourne is operating right under the nose of the CIA and, even though it’s supposed to be a film about a former secret agent and a covert intelligence agency, it’s a movie filled with nonstop in-your-face action.  It’s more of an action movie and less of a spy movie.

Damon is great once again as the former spy who just wants to be left alone but is lured in from the cold by the promise of information about his past.  He is a man tortured by his own personal history.  Alicia Vikander was surprisingly good as a new character added to the mix.  Heather Lee added a new dimension to the film with a young CIA agent who may or may not be willing to help Bourne.

“Jason Bourne” brings to the forefront an issue that is one of the most important questions of our time, the battle of personal rights versus public safety.  How many of our rights are we willing to sacrifice to make the nation safer?  There’s no easy answer.  In fact, there may be no wrong answer to the question either.  The scourge of electronic surveillance is everywhere, but is it right?

The only negative about the movie is that it is too similar to the other movies in the franchise.  Bourne is on his own trying to discover information about his past.  At the same time he is being hunted by the CIA, who is always the culprit with one person in particular being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It’s the same basic plot of the previous films.

“Jason Bourne” is another classic movie in the series, not quite as good as “The Bourne Identity,” but on par with “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.”   The movie has a clever ending that’s open to interpretation.  And open to further Bourne movies.

Grade: A-

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and brief strong language.