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Jason Bourne Ultra HD Review

There are a couple of things that make the Ultra HD Jason Bourne release noteworthy. First, this disc is full-blown, real-deal 4K, having been filmed in a variety of 2.8K, 4K, 6K and 16/35 millimeter film formats, with the transfer taken from a 4K Digital Intermediate, and the detail and resolution make it onto the screen.

There are a couple of things that make the Ultra HD Jason Bourne release noteworthy. First, this disc is full-blown, real-deal 4K, having been filmed in a variety of 2.8K, 4K, 6K and 16/35 millimeter film formats, with the transfer taken from a 4K Digital Intermediate, and the detail and resolution make it onto the screen. Most images ooze detail, especially long range shots such as the pass over Rome and Athens early in the film. You can clearly read even the finest detail on computer monitors, and every crag, wrinkle, pore, and crease in Tommy Lee Jones’ face, which is done absolutely no favors by 4K’s cruel detail. Even though the film has a mostly subdued, real-world color palate, the movie features reference quality video throughout, taking real advantage of HDR’s capabilities with just some really dark interior scenes having a bit of noise or grain.

Second, Jason Bourne is one of very few disc releases to date to contain a DTS:X Master audio soundtrack. This competitor to Dolby Atmos has seen far fewer releases as DTS has been slower to finalize its object-based audio format, with many manufacturers still rolling out firmware updates to become DTS:X capable. Fortunately, my Marantz AV8802A is up to the task, and from the opening seconds of the film, the DTS:X audio soundtrack envelopes the room in a sonic blanket. Obviously there is no way of directly comparing DTS:X to Atmos at this point with no identical titles available, but Bourne definitely delivers a sweet taste of what DTS:X is capable of bringing to the table.

This fourth film in the Damon-Bourne franchise picks up the story ten years following the events of Ultimatum, with Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) a little greyer, a little thicker, and having spent the last decade on the run avoiding the CIA and lurking in the shadows. After he’s pulled back in, who can he trust and how deep does the rabbit hole go?

Having been a big fan of the franchise – even Jeffrey Renner’s take in 2012’s Bourne Legacy – I was excited to see where they were going to take the story. Sadly, I have to admit that, despite what the disc jacket says, this is not only not “The Best Bourne Yet,” but this is my least favorite film in the series. While it was mostly entertaining and generally kept my attention, it seemed to lack the intelligence of the previous movies, especially the terrific plot and pacing of the first film. It is also a bit plodding at times, with repeated cat-and-mouse-and-cat chases that move the story from one location to the next. Bourne is a spy film with more talking and intrigue than big action, but the soundtrack does have a lot of terrific ambient moment and there is enough mayhem to make for some good home theater fodder. So fire up your system and check out these scenes!

(Spoilers follow…)

Meeting with Nicky – Chapter 5, 18:28-23:26

This scene puts you in the middle of an Athens street riot, with protests happening all around the room and cuts back and forth with a CIA watch group monitoring events trying to locate and track Bourne. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) explains why she has contacted Bourne after all these years, essentially laying out the film’s raison d’etre and setting him back on his quest to find out more about his past. As Bourne and Parsons walk and talk, notice the cornucopia of sounds happening all around the room: shouts, crowds, motorcycles, fireworks, helicopters flying overhead. The audio does a great job of setting the space, while still keeping dialog clear and intelligible right up front. On the video front, low-level detail in the dark scenes is terrific, really showing off HDR’s strengths, especially the intense reddish-orange of the flames as Bourne drops the Molotov cocktail at 22:50

The Asset is on line – Chapter 6, 28:00 – 32:58

Bourne has stolen a motorcycle and leads the CIA Asset/assassin (Vincent Cassel) on a chase through the streets of Athens. The visuals are dynamic as they race through alleyways and streets, up and down stairs, with fire and explosions popping up seemingly everywhere and creating intensely red-orange blooms that erupt from the display along with the piercing blue of the police lights, and the audio does a great job of keeping up. When on the bike, sounds race past the sides of the room convincingly, and notice the abrupt audio changes as the scene cuts back to the CIA offices, especially in the moment immediately following the sniper’s shot. Your room is immediately transformed from a rioting Athens night to a busy CIA office. The scene finishes with a nice, slow helicopter flyover/hover providing some nice use of the ceiling speakers.

He wants answers! – Chapter 12 1:07 – 1:13:34

The Asset has been given a green light to take out Bourne, and he works his way to a shooting position. The audio contrasts nicely from the interior of the CIA van and the exterior streets as we follow Bourne’s target into the plaza. Knowing it’s a trap, Bourne rigs a distraction, setting off fire alarms and creating commotion in downtown London. Notice how the alarms start high up on the wall and then track down as the camera pans up. You’re quickly surrounded by mayhem as alarms, sirens, and crowds stream around you, with PA announcements echoing overhead. Bourne slips into the crowd and grabs his man, interrogating him on a rooftop, with flashbacks containing room filling audio as Bourne gets another puzzle piece about his past. The scene ends in a dramatic rooftop jump, with cables whipping and snapping overhead.

Vegas, baby! – Chapter 14 1:22:14 – 1:24:46

No action in this clip, but I like this scene because if you’ve ever spent any time in Vegas, you’ll immediately recognize all of the sounds of being on the casino floor. Twinkles, bells, chimes and electronic tones from slot machines sound everywhere around the room, along with the steady thrum of crowd noise and barely heard conversations. This is part of the terrific nature of next gen audio formats to realistically establish the environment on screen. When the Asset enters the hotel corridor you get an entirely different acoustic space, with the announcements echoing realistically off the hard cement hallway.

Chase on the Strip – Chapter 17 1:38 – 1:44:20

The insane chase scene starts with a ton of crowd noise, and alarms that sound far off in the distant corner of the room and really takes off as the Asset steals a SWAT armored van and Bourne gives chase in a black Challenger. Visuals on the Vegas strip at night are bright and punchy, yet the blacks are deep and solid and clean as Bourne races through traffic, power sliding around corners, plowing into other vehicles with screeching tires and horns blazing all around the room. You’ll definitely feel the weight of the armored car as it plows through other vehicles, the deep low bass giving your sub a thorough workout. At the 1:42 mark a helicopter joins the chase and you can clearly hear it hovering and circling around overhead, changing and shifting positions in the sky. Cut the scene off after the SWAT truck plows into the Riviera, the sound of broken glass and shattered slot machines filling the room.