- Composed by John Powell and David Buckley
- Backlot Music / 2016 / 61m
Jason Bourne didn’t even feature in his fourth cinematic outing back in 2012 (perhaps his memory loss led to him forgetting to turn up) but is back in the fifth, with Matt Damon reprising his most famous role and Paul Greengrass returning as director. Reviews have been mixed but audiences have flocked to see it. John Powell’s iconic music for the first three films in the series has gone on to define the sound of action films for a generation, so it was a relief (and a surprise – he didn’t do either the previous entry in this series or Greengrass’s Captain Philips) to see his name attached, albeit accompanied by David Buckley this time round. The division of labour isn’t clear (as has been well-documented, Powell suffered a personal tragedy earlier in the year so it is no surprise that he didn’t do it solo) but there’s no mistaking Powell’s voice in it. I guess the issue – for which the composer is clearly entirely blameless – is that that very sound has now become so copied, there was always the risk that far from sounding cutting edge, nearly a decade after The Bourne Ultimatum – a decade in which this sound has been heard as a prevailing influence in literally dozens of scores for big action movies – an energetic boost was needed to push the sound on into another place and avoid it falling somewhat anonymously into the vast array of imitators.
While it’s great to go into this universe again, Powell and Buckley haven’t really managed to avoid that issue from materialising. The familiar material is here as you’d expect – the opening track “I Remember Everything” includes snippets of just about all of it, despite only being two minutes long, and there’s plenty later; and the bulk of the action material – which to be fair is the bulk of the score – is constructed in that now very recognisable way. But if truth be told, it’s often like variations on the existing material from the earlier scores rather than something genuinely fresh. The injection of a few (even) more modern synths feels a bit cursory, not enough to really make it feel fresh. It’s hard to imagine anyone ever choosing to listen to Jason Bourne over one of the first three scores in the series, but having said that, the material on which it is built is so strong that taken purely on its own terms it is undoubtedly an enjoyable way of spending an hour.