Matt Damon and director get 'Bourne' again to good effect

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

When we last left Matt Damon's Jason Bourne in the "Bourne" series, well, he wasn't Matt Damon's Jason Bourne.

After three movies, Damon decided to step away from the spy-movie character he made famous, leading to a 2012 reboot, "The Bourne Legacy," which featured Jeremy Renner in another story within the "Bourne" universe of CIA-created human weapons. It scratched the itch a bit, but fans and critics alike found it a pale comparison.

Fortunately for "Bourne" fans, Damon decided to bring his character back from the not-dead. If you'll recall, Jason Bourne ended "The Bourne Ultimatum" the way he does all of these movies: by slipping back into the underground.

You might not recall the finer details of Bourne's saga so far, but fortunately that's not much of an issue, as we are pretty quickly thrown back into a world of secret CIA programs, insane car chases and wild hand-to-hand combat.

Jason Bourne (Damon) is still putting together the pieces of the puzzle that turned him into a CIA super soldier. His former mole Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) has left the agency but is still trying to help Bourne expose the truth.

CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) is, of course, trying to thwart them. An agent known as Asset (Vincent Cassel) is trying to kill Bourne, with an added personal motivation.

Probably the biggest knock on "Jason Bourne" is the feeling that if you've seen one "Bourne" film, you've seen them all.

But with Paul Greengrass - who helmed the second and third films in the series - also back in the director's chair, you could do a lot worse than more of the same with this series.

For starters, we get back to the lean and efficient storytelling after a relatively convoluted spinoff. The action sequences are again filled with real stunts and middle-of-the-action handheld camerawork.

Damon's Bourne is no real shift from the norm - a mix of brooding, efficiency and explosive emotion - but this surrounding cast is stellar.

Two additions to the cast come from breakout indie roles: Alicia Vikander ("Ex Machina") playing a CIA tech agent and Riz Ahmed ("Nightcrawler") as the head of social media giant who has gotten too deep in debt to the CIA. And Jones' cold and shrewd turn as a villainous CIA chief is alone worth the price of admission.

It may be more of the same, but the same is pretty damn good.

"Jason Bourne"

Opens Thursday

3 stars out of 4