First Reviews For Paul Greengrass’ Jason Bourne Are A Mixed Bag

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Nipping at the heels of yesterday’s franchise recap, which had Matt Damon himself recount all the major events of the Bourne franchise to date in 90 seconds or less, Universal has lifted the review embargo for Jason Bourne ahead of its theatrical release on Friday, July 29.

Heralding the first mainline installment to be helmed by Paul Greengrass since Ultimatum in 2007, it’s fair to say that these first are a mixed bag, with our own Matt Donato describing Universal’s attempted franchise revival as a “lackluster return” for a series that had long defined the action genre throughout the noughties.

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Below, you’ll find a general overview of the critical consensus, starting with our own verdict.

WGTC: This isn’t another Bourne film – it’s another mainstream attempt to feed off of familiarity. Jason Bourne succeeds in bringing back Matt Damon’s mean-mug to mass-audiences, but it fails to elevate the franchise beyond re-introductions and (unsurprising) exits. There are high-notes (Damon’s steely reserve, Tommy Lee Jone’s typical once-a-movie sass, Damon’s abs), and there are lows – but, most frustratingly, it’s the lackluster return you’d fear for an almost decades-later reboot (nine years since Ultimatum). Bourne is back, but there’s still some dust to shake off – here’s hoping that the next inevitable sequel fully embraces something new and interesting, without all the whooshy camera bullshit.

Variety: Mostly, the project marks a return to what worked about the franchise — namely, Damon — suggesting the relief of watching Sean Connery step back into Bond’s shoes after producers tried to replace him with a suave male model in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Meanwhile, audiences are expected to forget both “The Bourne Legacy,” 2012’s disappointing attempt to carry on the name by casting Jeremy Renner in a superficially similar capacity, and “Green Zone,” the gritty (and virtually unseen) Iraq War thriller in which Damon and Greengrass tried to get serious. Now, the real Bourne has resurfaced, and both director and star are committed to making the most of it, holding us in their thrall until the Las Vegas-set finale, when this hyper-paranoid conspiracy thriller tilts into something bordering on silliness.

THR: Up until a narratively implausible and logistically ridiculous climactic motorcycle chase through Vegas that feels like a sop to the Fast & Furious crowd, Jason Bourne is an engrossing re-immersion in the violent and mysterious world of Matt Damon’s shadowy secret op. With director Paul Greengrass compulsively cutting the almost incessant action to the absolute bone in his trademark fashion and some solid new characters stirred in, Universal’s franchise refresher should have no problem being re-embraced by longtime series fans nine years on (not counting the lukewarm non-Damon stopgap The Bourne Legacy in 2012).

The Wrap: Cat-and-mouse extravaganzas are rarely as enjoyable as “Jason Bourne,” and when they are, it’s most likely because they’re the previous installments in this still vital rogue-agent franchise — that is, the ones directed by Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”). Perhaps today’s master practitioner of jagged action, Greengrass can turn fistfights and chases into collision art. And after last year’s slick-and-tired 007 retread “Spectre,” being reminded of the Bourne saga’s grittier thrills is welcome, indeed.

Crave Online: If Jason Bourne was just the next in a very long line of Jason Bourne knockoffs, then we could write it off as an insipid misfire and call it a day. Instead, we are forced to wonder why Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon – who walked away from this franchise like a pair of [frick]ing champions nine years ago – thought that this particular film was a good enough reason to come back. It has nothing to say about the events that transpire within it, and none of the characters actually seem to change over the course of the film (unless dying counts). So why the hell are we even being asked to watch it?

Also starring Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles and Riz Ahmed, Jason Bourne lands in theaters on July 29.