‘Jason Bourne’ Reviews: Does Sequel Thrill or Is It Franchise Overkill?

“You’ve seen this movie before,” one critic warns

Last Updated: July 27, 2016 @ 8:46 AM

“Jason Bourne” returns to theaters on Friday nine years after the events of “Ultimatum,” and critics are aren’t entirely welcoming the retired super spy back with open arms.

While some critics tend to agree that Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon know how to make a great action film, others believe that the previous “Bourne” films had set the standard too high for just any regular follow up. At the moment, the fifth film in the Universal franchise has a 62 percent approval rating from critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s enough to be considered “Fresh,” but still a mixed bag of reactions.

TheWrap’s Robert Abele is among those who gave Damon’s fourth stint as Bourne a positive review, concluding that a “mindful moment about violence,” as well as Greengrass’s touch, sets the sequel “apart from the rest of the blockbuster crowd.”

Empire Magazine critic Jimi Famurewa particularly enjoyed the violence. “Yes, ‘Jason Bourne’ basically amounts to a trio of action set-pieces elegantly strung together,” he wrote. “But who really cares when they’re this impressive?”

Still, even many of the reviews considered favorable by Rotten Tomatoes thought “Jason Bourne” lacked the impressive punch of the last films. One of the problems seems to be that it doesn’t give the audience anything new, but rather plays like a “greatest hits” album, striving to stay relevant.

Forbes critic Scott Mendelson wrote: “You’ve seen this movie before. You saw it in 2004 when it was called ‘The Bourne Supremacy,’ and you saw it in 2007 when it was called ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’… This fifth ‘Bourne‘ film (and fourth Matt Damon entry) plays like a greatest hits album of a popular franchise, with an emphasis on the two sequels that Greengrass himself directed.”

“Even when it comes to life, ‘Jason Bourne’ offers very little that could stand on its own; its best scenes remind you of even better ones in the earlier films,” wrote Village Voice critic Bilge Ebiri. “There’s a greatest-hits quality to the movie, only the band is tired and its heart isn’t in it. It evokes a sense-memory of the prior films, and if you turn your mind off enough, you might convince yourself that you’re being treated to another action extravaganza along those lines. But really, all you’re left with is the spectacle of great actors walking around with little sense or conviction.”

The latest installment in the “Bourne” franchise follows the titular hero coming back on the grid to try to find the truth about his father, all the while having an ally that is reminiscent of Edward Snowden.

The spy action film’s take on current events doesn’t seem to make it any better for The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw.

“The Snowden/social media plot line of this film does a bit to make Bourne more relevant. But the ingredients are basically the same,” wrote Bradshaw.

Time Out critic Tom Huddleston called the sequel “business as usual.”

“The nearest ‘Jason Bourne’ (could that title be any more bland?) has to a USP is the paternal angle, and it’s nowhere near enough: we’re never given a reason to care who Bourne’s dad was, or what he was up to,” Huddleston wrote.

But Playlist critic Rodrigo Perez those suggests those who enjoy Greengrass’ treatment of action, and Damon’s take on the character will be satisfied.

“And yet, for all its problems, ‘Bourne’ is still thrilling and an undoubtedly engrossing action film thanks to its taut construction,” Perez wrote. “Greengrass can seemingly make these movies in his sleep and audiences just looking for a kinetic Jason Bourne movie won’t be disappointed. The movie features spectacular car chases, punishing fight sequences, and motorcycle sequences that will push your blood pressure skyward. The problem is, as heart stopping as they are, none of them are very unexpected.”