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Matt Damon returns to 'Jason Bourne': Have the movies changed over time?

The Jason Bourne films have become a very successful franchise and more recent entries such as the 2007 film 'The Bourne Ultimatum' were particularly critically acclaimed.

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Matt Damon appears in 'The Bourne Ultimatum.'

Jasin Boland/Universal Pictures

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Jason Bourne – and so Matt Damon – returns in “Jason Bourne,” the newest entry in the “Bourne” action film franchise that has become both financially successful and critically well received, a combination that is not always easy to achieve. 

“Jason” features the return of Mr. Damon as Jason Bourne, a man who at the beginning of the series is unable to remember who he is but finds that he has various talents such as being able to hold his own in combat and speak multiple languages. Jason soon discovers his connection to the federal government. 

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The character is based on that created by writer Robert Ludlum.

Damon portrayed Bourne in the first three “Bourne” films, with Paul Greengrass directing the second and third movies, and “Captain America: Civil War” actor Jeremy Renner then portrayed a different character, Aaron Cross, in the 2012 movie “The Bourne Legacy.” Both Damon and Mr. Greengrass return for “Jason Bourne,” which will be released in theaters on July 29 and co-stars Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, and Tommy Lee Jones. 

“The Bourne Ultimatum,” the third movie starring Damon as Jason Bourne, was in particular very well received critically. 

Has the series changed over time? Have the changes kept the films fresh, or is it a tried-and-true formula that has kept audiences engaged? 

Monitor editor Clayton Collins noted that “Ultimatum,” for one, kept the multiple settings of the previous movies and that Damon’s performance is impressive.

“This hyper-action film easily upholds the high standard set by the first two, with quick-cut camera-work and another unrelenting global chase,” Mr. Collins wrote upon the DVD release of “Ultimatum.” “Matt Damon really inhabits the edgy role.” 

Yet those behind the film series seem to have done a good job at making each entry different enough to hold moviegoers’ attention as well. Reviewers praised the story and the new cast members, which included David Strathairn, in “Ultimatum.” 

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“Its palpable sense of urgency and rapid-fire pace is bolstered by an intricately plotted story and a strong ensemble cast,” USA Today critic Claudia Puig wrote of “Ultimatum,” while Todd McCarthy of Variety writes of the film, “A low-key Strathairn proves mightily effective in an against-type turn as the quietly seething heavy.”


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