Almost more than any other film genre, the action moves in cycles. Suddenly, a certain way of understanding scenes with more movement and physical contact prevails in mainstream cinema -the only one who can afford these deployments on a continuous basis- and almost all the movies they seem cut from the same pattern. You never guess which one will end up creating a school, but there is always a movie or series of movies that makes the difference.
Removing shows from major investment in digital effects, the trend now seems to be to follow the ‘John Wick’ model: great choreographies, shot in wide shots and, if possible, in a continuous sequence, with few cuts, so that everything can be appreciated. Even random Netflix blockbusters have at least one such scene, and from time to time Marvel tries to imitate one of those. A opposite response to the style that had dominated popular action before, much more frenetic, with a restless camera, close shots and a lot of cutting, marked by the jason bourne saga.
It was impossible to predict that an adaptation of the books of Robert Ludlumstarring above Matt Damon, was to establish the visual personality of an action blockbuster for much of the century so far. But it did, and it ended up influencing more aspects of popular American cinema. Like more or less the influence it had, it is one of the most important action sagas. And you only have a few days to be able to retrieve it on Netflix, since from May 15 the films will leave the platform.
persecution and paranoia
Not all deliveries are perfect, but in their best moments they offer a cinema full of muscle and energy that has you completely gripped. His style, so restless and paranoid, benefited from a changing context for the global public, which went from admiring the great shows of ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Tiger and Dragon’ to tending more and more to his down-to-earth and down-to-earth approach.
There is also the paradigm shift brought about by 9/11 for the American mainstream. The grand displays of explosions were becoming too glorifying. On the other hand, the realism of the Bourne movies did not omit explosions, but made them more intense and terrifying thanks to the way you make yourself present in them. As if that were not enough, ‘The Bourne Affair’ spoke directly of hypervigilance, of the questionable practices of government intelligence servicesin a context where the war against terrorism made governments more inclined to espionage their citizens and to control their movements.
Doug Liman He managed to make his constant movement and paranoia connect with the audience, using agile montages and posing the action from close up, making the action less readable but more urgent. Matt Damon also manages to sustain this approach with that almost folksy charisma and of a man on footwhich conveyed the feeling that everything that happened to this amnesiac super-spy could happen to you.
The combination of all these elements, from approach to theme, were convincing, but things went further in terms of style with the arrival of Paul Greengrass.
In charge of the sequels ‘The Bourne Legend’ and ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, the British director maintained the powerful level, increasing the intensity of the scripts of Tony Gilroy thanks to your visual personality, marked by the camera in hand, closer to the action to make it more intense and real. As much as the global persecutions were getting crazy on the global scale, everything remained plausible enough thanks to its narration and the commitment of its star.
With the original trilogy finished, neither Damon nor Greengrass saw a reason to continue with a franchise that had given unparalleled success. But for Universal it was not enough, and Gilroy was entrusted with the task of expand the universe of espionage. This is how ‘The Bourne Legacy’ came about, the only one with a different star at the helm –Jeremy Rennertrying to get his head in definitively as a star-, and with the screenwriter assuming the role of the director.
The Bourne saga: as shocking as it is influential
The result is not as regular as its predecessors, and the action is less impactful, so it was a half-hearted effort. In an attempt to correct this commercial blunder, the house was thrown out the window to bring back both Damon and Greengrass as director.
Together they signed ‘Jason Bourne’, which manages to land even less in terms of maintaining the emotion of the character and the intrigue of the story. The action doesn’t improve spectacularly either. It was another unsuccessful play.
While both movies have their measurable moments, they were clearly affected by the fact that they no longer had anything as powerful and fresh about them. By then, many other action movies had copied the earthy and fleeting montage approach (Nolan’s Batman, the ‘Revenge’ of Liam Neeson), some taking it to such an extreme that the action became incompressible and poor.
These poor heirs have tarnished the legacy of these films more than two irregular films, but it is enough to see them again to appreciate the strength they had and still have.