By Devan Coggan
July 26, 2016 at 12:50 PM EDT
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It’s been almost a decade since we last saw Matt Damon as the mercenary with memory issues. After a Damon-free sequel with Jeremy Renner in 2012, Jason Bourne reunites Damon with longtime Bourne director Paul Greengrass, diving deeper than ever into the former CIA assassin’s mysterious past.

The original Bourne trilogy was a smash hit, thanks to Damon’s charm, impeccably choreographed fight sequences, and plenty of shadowy intrigue, and in all, the entire series has raked in more than $1.22 billion worldwide. But after Renner’s outing debuted to mixed reviews, critics are hailing Damon’s return as a welcome return to form, albeit a familiar one. (Although writer-director Greengrass has given Bourne’s tale a 2016 upgrade, focusing on surveillance and spy technology.)

After all these years, Bourne’s story still packs a punch — and the man himself still knows how to throw one.

“[Bourne has always] been a man apart, haunted not only by his own classified origin story but by the consequences of his body count, too,” EW’s Leah Greenblatt wrote in her B+ review. “That’s helped create a character compelling enough to sustain four (five, if you count 2012’s decent but Damon-free offshoot The Bourne Legacy) films over nearly 15 years.”

Here’s more of Greenblatt’s review and what others critics thought of Jason Bourne (opening Friday).

Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly)

“Bourne [feels] like the rare genre star who actually holds a mirror to these messy, morally ambiguous times: He doesn’t air-drop into impossible missions like a spandexed spider, or slip on his daytime tuxedo to take down a pack of ninjas using nothing but drain cleaner and deadly bons mots. He sweats; his skin bruises. (He does, of course, still throw punches way better than your average bear; this is a billion-dollar franchise, not a documentary.) And as Jason Bourne — he’s been stripped of Identity or Supremacy or Ultimatums — begins, he is as down-and-out as we’ve ever seen him: living off the grid in squalid bedsits, taking bets from bare-knuckle fight clubs in dusty border towns.”

Peter Debruge (Variety)

“In many ways, Jason Bourne is the most unsettling movie in the series, seeing as it points to a vast conspiracy directed at the American people, and Greengrass’ style — rendered visceral via the marriage of Barry Ackroyd’s on-the-fly lensing, a tense techno score, and Rouse’s cutting-room trickery — lends itself nicely to an era in which shadow forces rely on such tools as satellite surveillance and facial-recognition software.”

Robert Abele (The Wrap)

“Once more pitting Matt Damon‘s memory-challenged, unsmiling killing machine against the omniscient U.S. intelligence network that built him, and sporting the kind of dizzying action that heats up your processors like a furiously charging battery, this fourth entry after a nine-year break for Damon and Greengrass should represent, for those ready and able to separate popcorn mayhem from the grim realities of world headlines, a bruising and exhilarating ride.”

Eric Kohn (IndieWire)

“While Greengrass borrowed enough plot from Robert Ludlum’s original novels to turn the latter two official Bourne movies into wry comments on homeland security, Jason Bourne is a blunt retread. The earlier entries anticipated the Snowden era with their depiction of complex and ethically dubious surveillance systems; this one name-checks him.”

Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)

“Up until a narratively implausible and logistically ridiculous climactic motorcycle chase through Vegas that feels like a sop to the Fast & Furious crowd, Jason Bourne is an engrossing re-immersion in the violent and mysterious world of Matt Damon’s shadowy secret op. With director Paul Greengrass compulsively cutting the almost incessant action to the absolute bone in his trademark fashion and some solid new characters stirred in, Universal’s franchise refresher should have no problem being re-embraced by longtime series fans nine years on.”

Tom Huddleston (Time Out)

“But when the talking stops the film takes off, with a pair of bone-rattling chases set in Athens and Las Vegas that cause maximum damage to people, property and the audience’s eardrums. A bracing reminder of how fiercely efficient Greengrass can be, these scenes just about justify the existence of Jason Bourne. But, please, no more.”

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 63

Rotten Tomatoes: 63 percent

Rated: PG-13

Length: 123 minutes

Starring Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones

Directed by Paul Greengrass

Distributor: Universal

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