Shaky Premise

I'm fortunate in that 95% of the entertainment I consume is by my choice. Sure, I may not have a loving husband to come home to, but that means I get full control of the remote. No kids means no suffering through whatever Chipmunk claptrap is oozing into theaters. And my circle of friends has diverse tastes, so there's nearly always someone ready and willing to accompany me to whatever happens to be catching my attention, whether it's a superhero blockbuster or an art-house character study.

Once in a while, though, I agree to ride in the sidecar to something someone else has chosen. Sometimes, it doesn't turn out too badly, but for the most part, if I was avoiding or ignoring a property, it's for a reason. That theory was put to the test again this week, when a friend wanted to go see the new Jason Bourne movie, a franchise I have minimal interest in. I dimly remember liking the original movie, but when the sequels got increasingly dependent on the scourge of the cinema known as ShakyCam, I officially checked out.

I keep up on film news, so I'm familiar with the strange path these movies have taken, including an entry without the star or director that made them popular in the first place. That divergence implied that when star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass returned to the series, it must be because the new movie was simply too awesome for them to pass up.

Nope. Everything that drove me away from the Bourne movies is still present in full force, with the newly-added detriment of making absolutely no sense, plot-wise. Characters ally with each other for no reason. Characters attack each other for no reason. Characters betray each other for no reason. Beyond some poorly-developed daddy issues, Bourne doesn't really have any motivation at all, really. He just reacts to things, and a lot of his decisions are straight-up terrible. At the heart of the movie is a big social media company that supposedly affects more than a billion people. What does the company do? Good question! They never bother to tell us. Want the audience to know that a flash drive has encrypted files on it? How about you just write "ENCRYPTED" in big block letters on the side, with a folder helpfully labeled "BLACK OPS" front-and-center? So dumb. Matt Damon phones in his performance, but I can't tell if that's because he's as bored as I was, or if he was just hung out to dry by the script. Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander do their best in supporting roles, but again, there's not much there to work with.

If the plot didn't make sense, at least the film-making was cool and exciting, right? Well, I can't really answer that, since hardly any of the shots last longer than 1/3 of a second. As I said on Facebook, a more appropriate title for this movie would be Caffeine-Addicted Parkinson's Sufferer on a Trampoline During an Earthquake. The ShakyCam is horrible, making even non-action scenes a chore to watch. And when the camera finally does settle down for a moment, it only reveals how shoddy the stunts and action beats are.

So really, the only interesting question this movie brings to mind is how fair it is for me to judge. After all, I didn't really want to see it in the first place; is me not liking it just confirmation bias? Well, after reading/listening to some reviews from people who went in ready to be dazzled, I think I'm good. But this movie sure as hell isn't.

Jason Bourne: C-


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