Jason Bourne Film
JB Official Movie Trailer
Jason Bourne Film Analysis
I saw the theatrical release of Jason Bourne a few hours ago and here is my film analysis. If you came to see the Bourne Formula in action, then the movie delivers. If you would like me to explain the plot further to you, then read on… <Spoiler alerts>
Yes, there are many action scenes, each dictating the Three Act Structure. Jason’s voiceover starts the film with “I remember. I remember everything” as the screen comes from black. The Opening Montage is a cut from a previous movie of a much younger David Webb becoming Jason Bourne, when he kills the hooded figure in the corner of the experimental laboratory, as his Final Exam. Using a previous movie cut works as a story device (so Movie Viewer remembers what was in the Past), because the backstory also needed to occur, since it’s been 9 years since anyone’s seen Jason. Why is he suddenly appearing on the CIA’s radar? This gives the film a purpose for the Movie Viewer to continue watching.
At first, I thought the opening montage was going to be of Jason having fainting spells, but that is not the case. He is having another dream sequence, when one of his bullets from his various kills, wakes him up from his dream. We then get set in the Present, seeing he’s inside a truck at the Albanian-Beirut border. He is using one of his skillsets to earn money from fights wagered on his open brawling. The Opening Fight Scene lets the Movie Viewer know that Jason is alive and looking good. He knocks the opponent out (TKO) on the first hit; this shows Jason’s internal reaction to his existence.
Meanwhile, in Iceland, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is walking in the freshly fallen snow, asking to be let into a Safe Datahouse per Christian’s invitation, whereby she hacks into the CIA’s mainframe computer. Her character’s been hiding, just as Jason has been lying low. As a story device, Nicky starts the film, by seeking out Jason in Beirut, with the information she hacked and copied to the JumpDrive. The information is about David’s father, Richard Webb, and Nicky is the Messenger, risking her life by copying and delivering the file: accepting the Malware sent by the CIA’s Heather Lee from Langley, Virginia (a new character played by Alicia Vikander) and the Athens, Greece Sequence, where The Asset (played by Vincent Cassel) is introduced. He has the same skillsets as Jason, but throughout the movie, he inflicts more harm than Jason does, mostly because both male figures are out for Personal Revenge, where they both know of each other, and Bourne sent the Asset into Syria and “it took 2 years to get him back!”
*High speed motorcycle chase scene through Athens!
Nicky is seeking justice for what the CIA did, which is where the previous film ended, and the Movie Viewer is clued into Treadstone and Briarwood Black Operations. With her hacking into the CIA’s mainframe, she downloads a lot more BlackOps missions than just those 2, about one every year. The Inciting Incident is when Nicky gives Jason some information that is vital to him, starting to answer the question of “Who is Jason Bourne?” This is a running theme throughout the Bourne series. Her death in the streets of Athens ends Act I.
The transition between Act I & II, shows Jason taking the Locker Key that Nicky threw at him, when she died. He has the Jump Drive (hidden inside a Band Aid metal box), along with her journal. Nicky’s role in the story is to be the Data Handler for Jason, so the journal unlocks Jason’s mind with keywords “JB Under Surveillance,” as he scans the bottom corners of 2 pages for additional clues. The next scene is him walking quickly into a café, using a public computer to Google the information, and this reveals a conference in Berlin.
Act II begins with a cut to a key character, Aaron Kalloor, CEO of Deep Dream, and a self-made billionaire in the Social Media World; his company is in the process of developing a new app, that will personalize the user’s experience while not compromising privacy as he delivers a Shareholder’s speech in <ta da!> Berlin. He has a private meeting at a restaurant with CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), where the dialogue reveals the CIA funded some of Aaron’s startup projects. Dewey needs Aaron to open up Deep Dream’s backend server to allow the CIA to fully test the Ironhand BlackOps program. Aaron says he’s not in agreement, as Ironhand’s rollout would be full spectrum surveillance, and this would violate Aaron’s personal ethics, and he’s “already paid them back many times over.” Dewey leaves this meeting tapping the plate with his pen saying “You’re being held accountable. Accountable.”
Meanwhile, The Asset is tracking Jason down (since he’s en route to Berlin). Christian’s character is short-lived, but serves useful to the CyberCrime plotline, because once the decryption is done, he’s going to broadcast the BlackOps files to the world via Social Media because “it’s the right thing to do.” He offers to partner with Jason, who declines with “I’ve never been on your side” (due to Nicky’s death). As with the Athens sequence involving running on foot-car-motorcycle chases, the Berlin sequence has more dialogue and “Man Brawling.” Christian is killed by Jason, who turns back to the computer, to finish reading his Secret file. Heather uses the cellphone, which is conveniently located next to the laptop, to erase the files. Per Dewey’s control, Heather talks to Jason, trying to reason with him.
Once Dewey controls the phone conversation, Heather texts Jason telling him “you have 2 minutes before the A unit shows up.” Jason takes out the A unit (watch out for Huge Black Steel doors), and walks away from Berlin. As a plot device, it propels the tension between Antagonist A (Dewey) with Protagonist B (Lee), since Heather is helping our Hero (Jason).
To recover from the high of the Berlin scene, the Upper Management meets and Dewey gives Lee permission to make contact with Jason “just once,” to see if his skillset would be more appropriate to help further the BlackOps program “from the inside,” rather than having Jason on the outside of the Agency.
By pulling out of the deal at the Berlin restaurant, Dewey serves Aaron with a court order in Silicon Valley, California, as Aaron is en route to ExoCon (a Cyber Convention) in Las Vegas. Aaron’s second-in-command keeps Dewey informed about Aaron’s move that “he’s planning something in Vegas.” The Movie Viewer cannot trust any character at this point, because every character seems to have an agenda (or two, or three) of their own.
There is a transition from Berlin to Paddington Basin (London, UK). The reason for traveling is for Jason to gain more information about his existence from Mr. Smith, who was the Beirut Chief, now retired doing Private Security. What’s interesting is the turn in Story, to the Midpoint. Dewey has given mission control to Lee, but during this Sequence, pulls the control away from her and leveraging The Asset against his own agency unit teams. Mr. Smith dies from a 5-story fall, while Jason walks away. She responds by helping Jason, getting him away from The Asset and onto the next location (Las Vegas).
Plot-wise, Las Vegas serves as “The Showdown in Sin City.” Heather logs into the US Department of Borders and Customs Protection/TSA entry database, allowing Jason to leave London and return to the US using a “Christopher Michaels” identity/passport and a clearance of “Expedite.”
Act III begins when everyone arrives one-by-one in Las Vegas. It is interesting to note that the filmmakers used The Plaza as the hotel the Asset is staying in, and this announces Act III with a marquee sign: “The Plaza, where all the action is!” J The filmmakers set the stage really well:
- · Jason using various Vendor’s products to use as surveillance tools in The Battle. Gee, they’re at a Cyber Convention…very convenient.
- · The Asset dressing in Service Employee clothing, to gain access to non-public areas, in order to take out Aaron and Dewey.
- · Dewey surrounded by CIA bodyguards, with access to a suite. (Sidenote: if this was actual security, the CIA Director probably would not be let out on 2 floors below the Penthouse, into a long dark corridor, leading to his suite)
- · Lee checking in at the Aria, locking her service gun inside the hotel safe.
- · Jason and Dewey summoning Lee, to meet. She then has to make her choice before The Battle begins.
The Showdown occurs on-stage, where Aaron, Lee and Dewey are to be the panelists. The theme spoken by the host is “Personal Choice or Public Safety,” referring to the two-tiered meaning for participants and the social message behind the film. Dewey then changes course, and calls out to The Asset to snipe not only Aaron, but “the girl as well.” His former plan of sacrificing himself is now thrown away, and he would rather sacrifice Lee, since he knows she’s been helping Bourne all along. After Aaron is wounded by The Asset, and mass hysteria ensues inside The Riviera Hotel, Dewey hides in his hotel suite, knowing that he will have The Confrontation with Jason. The Confrontation is critical in the Bourne storyline, as Dewey is killed by Lee, while Jason kills Russell (one of Dewey’s men). The Past has been erased, and the New Society has been restored (all Plotlines have been wrapped up). Almost.
The Personal Revenge theme has not been wrapped up yet; the hatred between The Asset and Bourne. After the Las Vegas Car Chase Sequence, the Story ends. Yes, the Antagonist B’s SWAT vehicle and the Hero’s Dodge Charger! Who wins?
*Epic car chase in Las Vegas Strip! Involved:
- · 7 months of planning
- · 17 nights of filming (from 11pm to 6am)
- · 300 cars on the road
- · 60 *actual* car crashes
- · 45 stunt drivers
- · 250 cast of extras
There is a new antagonist in this film whom I’ll call Antagonist B, portrayed by actor Vincent Cassel. His character is an existing asset, and has skills similar to Jason’s. On-screen, he’s been the shadow that’s been lurking behind major events in Jason’s life. His presence is always seen afterwards, driving away in a getaway vehicle.
Alicia Vikander stars as the CIA Cyber Security Director, and when Jason looks up her identity on the web, he zooms in on her quote “I chose the CIA because I know I can make a difference.” Her character is a new one, which is how the Executive Producers Team wanted to introduce her into this new chapter of the Bourne story.
The Asset dies, with Jason breaking his neck in yet, another “Man Brawl.” The film could have ended with Jason walking into the light at the end-of-the-tunnel, but there is an Epilogue.
The movie’s Epilogue sets the stage for the next chapter in the Bourne story. Most Movie Viewers thought the film had ended, because there is a 2-second black screen, before the scene opens into the Epilogue.
As far as Jason Bourne, it was:
1) True to story and the character? YES.
2) In the film world, things have changed politically (noted also by Total Film), so how did this change the screenplay?
a. Different concerns – Online privacy, Edward Snowden’s presence, the world of Social Media. This is the external conflict.
b. Different loyalties – who can be trusted? This is an internal conflict.
3) Thematically, the film works.
4) Serially, there is no lost time in between The Bourne Ultimatum and this film. Ignore The Bourne Legacy, as far as story timelines go. You don’t have to rent or borrow the other films in order to understand this one.
5) Met Viewer expectations? Oh YEAH.
According to Total Film magazine, the latest film was shot on location nearby their publishing offices. The signs were marked “JB5” on that day, leading to Paddington Basin, where a crucial interrogation scene was filmed in November 2015. Director Paul Greengrass liked filming here.
Director Greengrass was quoted as saying: “If you do another Bourne movie, it’s got to have a certain scale – The bar’s already high.” Production-wise, a lot of people (including myself) were wondering why the release of another film in the franchise, if you will. Damon’s response was “Well, because people really want one.” If you stay for the Ending Credits, not only is Matt the first star listed, he is also a Producer in this installment. Also, with Dewey’s character gone, you can catch more of Tommy Lee Jones as an Antagonist in The Mechanic Resurrected (Trailer #1 before JB).
Producer Frank Marshall was requoted: “We meet Bourne fighting the demons of his past while trying to stay under the radar.”
In case you forgot what the order of the films are, here is a quick refresher:
1) The Bourne Identity (2002)
2) The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
3) The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – Matt Damon says this was about the Bush administration and the War on Terror, which led to shooting scenes in London, Madrid and New York.
4) The Bourne Legacy (2008)
Thank you to Aaron at Ala Moana Barnes and Noble Booksellers, for helping me with the filmology.
A Big Mahalo to the Windward Regal Theater management and staff for another fine movie experience, despite the pre-movie drama. J (See the other post for my version of pre-movie JB)
Stay tuned for more new content, from my Film World Adventures…
What do you think?
Do you like the latest film?
Jason Bourne Film Order
The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Legacy