4K UltraHD Blu-ray Review: Jason Bourne

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"You know his name," states the simple but effective tagline. His name, of course, is Jason Bourne and Matt Damon returns to his signature role after a nearly decade-long break. Fans of the series can certainly be forgiven for assuming Damon was done with the character. Jeremy Renner stepped in as an all-new character in 2012's The Bourne Legacy, a film that was just interesting enough (and that performed just well enough at the box office) to keep the franchise rolling along. Jason Bourne wasn't summer 2016's biggest (or best received) hit, but it was apparently enough to trigger pre-production for a sixth installment. 
rsz_jason_bourne_matt_damon_2.jpg Director Paul Greengrass (who helmed the second and third parts, Supremacy and Ultimatum respectively) has returned as well. With Greengrass at the helm, along come the adrenaline rush action sequences, including a massive, showstopping car chase throughout the Vegas strip. This time out the visual fireworks are in service of a highly streamlined plot. The upshot of the relative simplicity is that one needn't have seen any of other movies anytime recently to get back into the swing of things. Bourne emerges from long-term hiding when his old ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) informs him of some key information involving his father. 
rsz_jason_bourne_julia_stiles.jpg There's so little going on, plot-wise, in Bourne that it's hard to know what to say about it for fear of revealing too much. Suffice it to say, the information presented to Bourne is important (and secret) enough that CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) wants to take him down. Dewey employs assistance (in luring Bourne in) from cyber ops division leader Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander). The entire film plays out like a long cat-and-mouse chase scene, which is not a bad thing in pure visceral terms. Damon remains a commanding presence as Bourne, though he receives little in the way of support. Jones, in particular, seems rather somnambulant as he trots out his familiar persona once again—these days it seems like we always know what we're going to get with Tommy Lee Jones, for better or worse. Here it feels like he's phoning it in.

Universal Studios brings Jason Bourne to home video on 4K UltraHD and normal Blu-ray. The UltraHD package includes both formats. Given that I'm still stuck in the "old days" of 1080p, I have to make special arrangements in order to watch an UltraHD Blu-ray disc with a friend who is equipped with a 4K TV and UltraHD BD player. Bourne was apparently shot on a variety of formats, with old-fashioned celluloid (both 16 and 35mm) being in the mix along with digital. After watching in UltraHD and then doing some select spot-checking with the standard Blu-ray, the benefits of the newer format are easily evident. The UltraHD image is far more vivid, with not only greater clarity but enhanced color richness. I've never personally claimed to be an expert on these matters, but after years of watching regular Blu-ray there's no mistaking the step up (worth the extra effort I made, and I can't wait to eventually upgrade my own system). 
rsz_jason_bourne_4k.jpg Jason Bourne comes with a smattering of so-so extras. The title of featurette "Bringing Back Bourne" (eight minutes) is pretty self-explanatory. Three-part "Bourne to Fight" (18 minutes total) is better, with a focus on the hand-to-hand combat depicted throughout. Further breakdown of action sequences are detailed in "The Athens Escape" (five minutes) and the two-part "Las Vegas Showdown" (15 minutes total). Not much plot analysis here, but if you're craving behind-the-scenes material about the film's stunts, it's worth a watch.

Paul Greengrass absolutely know how to stage chaotic action/chase sequences, which makes Jason Bourne a gut-level entertainment that works well enough. More questionable is whether or not there was a compelling enough reason for Bourne to come out of hiding. Hopefully the next chapter adds a little more complexity.


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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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