Easily the best blockbuster of the summer so far, Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon return to possibly the most seminal action franchise of all time - and aren't we glad to have them back...
This time, the hooks are two-fold; this is not only a middle-aged Jason Bourne, but one one living in a post-Snowden world. It takes about 10 minutes of the running time before the famed American whistleblower is mentioned and the plot is very much a fictitious extension of those occurrences. We even have a Mark Zuckerberg-style social media guru who is being strong-armed by Tommy Lee Jones' CIA boss to hand over information on his 1.5 billion users. It's all uber-topical.
Where Bourne fits into this plot is essentially as the man who poses more questions - this time, about his old man, whom he believed to be a low-level analyst in the CIA. However, when Julia Stiles' curious former operative opens a can of worms and tracks Bourne down as he's slapping the shit out of people for money, the impending chase through a riot in Greece is some of the best action you're likely to see on screen this year.
Look, this isn't hugely different from the first three films. The only ostensible difference is a slightly more vulnerable Bourne as he struggles to get by on pure brawn in his advancing years. Everything else remains pretty much the same as Greengrass's uniquely visceral execution keeps proceedings belting along at a breakneck pace, while still managing to cohesively unravel snippets of plot. That kind of direction is as impressive as it is rare and it's one of the reasons why this film is so entertaining; rather than the action dictating the plot, the opposite is true.
Then you have Matt Damon in a part that is likely to serve as the signature role of his career. The epitome of the strong, silent type, Bourne has been living a hard life for the last decade or so, and that hint of 'Will I come back in?' constantly clouds his eyes in the quieter moments. In short, Damon is excellent; he nails the subtleties of Bourne like no one else could, as the very average 'Legacy' proved.
Alicia Vikander is also a stand-out as an ambitious new CIA operation leader who may or may not be on the right side of things, while Tommy Lee Jones maintains his usual imposing presence in a film that begs for exactly that.
The franchise that influenced Bond, Bauer and countless others is back- and we already want more. Excellent fun.