Latest Bourne leaves you breathless, but was it really necessary?

Latest Bourne leaves you breathless, but was it really necessary?

Poor Jason Bourne. He’s been running for what seems like decades. I’m tired just thinking about it, and this latest movie in the franchise is just as fatiguing. When Paul Greengrass took over for Doug Liman 10 years ago for the second Bourne movie, it was riveting: enormous stunts, a breathtaking pace and an anti-hero in the form of a buff Matt Damon.

That hasn’t changed. But what has is Greengrass’s style has now been much imitated, leaving this new “Bourne” feeling like a re-Bourne. This movie is relentless: never-ending chases and pursuits by car, by motorcycle, on foot, without nary a break in the action to recompose yourself for the next onslaught. Damon is still as buff as ever, and Greengrass is on his game, but the storyline of a CIA experiment gone rogue is beginning to tire.

This opens with Bourne completely off the grid, living literally hand to mouth as a fighter on the outer limits of society. Up pops an old CIA friend, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who has turned her talents to crusading for the truth. She has hacked the CIA computers and dug up information on Bourne’s old project, Treadstone, and there is some interesting stuff about his dad, too (played by Gregg Henry in flashbacks).

The two meet up in Athens, but Bourne’s old nemesis, CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), and his protégé Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) have caught the hack and are hunting them down, intending to finish Bourne for good via The Asset (Vincent Cassel), an assassin as ruthless as Bourne and someone with a personal vendetta against him.

From that point on, this is one giant globe-hopping cat and mouse game aided by the use of satellites, which allow Dewey and Lee to remain stateside for much of the movie in an operations center barking orders as if they were directing a TV show. Meanwhile, Dewey is involved in a new project, “Iron Hand,” that will employ new worldwide covert surveillance technology. His unwitting partner is a tech wizard named Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed of HBO’s “The Night Of”), who is unaware of Dewey’s true intentions. All of this comes together in Las Vegas, of all places, with a chase scene down the main strip that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Still, I have to wonder, was it worth it to reboot the franchise, and can Jason truly be “Bourne” again?

For something completely different, there is Woody Allen’s latest movie, “Café Society,” playing now at the River Oaks theater in Houston. Lately Allen’s features haven’t resonated with me. They seem tired and indulgent, like last year’s “Magic in the Moonlight.” “Café” is different, a near return to Allen’s strong form as a keen observer of the human condition that is as humorous as it is poignant, not unlike one of his recent best, “Blue Jasmine.”

He has chosen to set this film in 1930s Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The characters and the action are set in the movie business and center around an obnoxious agent played by Steve Carrell. His sister’s son, Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg), has left the Bronx for the West Coast, where he hopes his uncle will give him a job.

The movie is seen through his eyes as he is exposed to the world of actors, celebrity and the attitudes of the rich and famous. His guide is his uncle’s assistant, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), and, of course, they fall in love with heartbreaking consequences but, as they say, “that’s show business,” and Bobby soon returns to New York to work in his brother’s jazz night club.

Allen has assembled a great cast, as usual. In addition to Carrell, Eisenberg and Stewart, there is Jeannie Berlin (who also appears in “The Night Of”) as the ubiquitous Jewish mother, who is a one woman Greek chorus with hilarious insights. Blake Lively, Parker Posey and Corey Stoll round out the list in what has been one of the few standouts of this mostly dismal summer of movies.

‘Jason Bourne’

Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Rated: PG-13

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