Jason Bourne was the most complained-about film among cinemagoers in 2016, records obtained under the freedom of information have shown.
The film, released last July, received four out of 13 complaints filed to the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) last year due to excessive violence and combat depicted in the 123-minute feature.
One complaint said the level of violence was both “extreme and unusual”, mentioning a particular scene which shows the use of self-harm without any relevant context.
Most viewers’ concerns focused around the 12A rating, which they found to be too mild for the movie’s nature.
“It is not, in my view, suitable for 12-year-old children. The soft 12A classification also ensures that some children younger than 12 will have had to sit through it as parents will look to the classification for guidance,” one complaint read.
In a response, Director of Film Classifications Ger Connolly said that when giving a rating censors consider the viewing experiences of previous films within that franchise.
“The genesis of these classifications comes from the decision of the Classification of Film Appeals Board to award a 12A classification to TAKEN 2 which was originally classified 15A by IFCO,” he said. “Subsequent decisions must factor this precedent into decision making.”
The movie is the fifth instalment in the franchise, featuring Matt Damon as lead figure Jason Bourne – an ex-CIA assassin on the run from his former employers who use a head of cyber-security (played by Alicia Vikander) to track him down.
The movie’s rating on IFCO states that there is ‘strong weapon usage and hand-to-hand combat’ which is consistent with previous films in the franchise.
Cinema releases are rated in certificates of G, PG, 12A, 15A, 16 and 18.
12A and 15A ratings are intended to prohibit those under the specified age from viewing a movie. However, the certificate offers an exception to those who are under the supervision of a parent or guardian.
David Power, assistant classifier at IFCO, said: “there are four main issues that we are looking for – sex, violence, drug use and language.”
“But our job is to understand the medium of cinema, so context is important. For example, 12 Years a Slave got a 15A, but it is quite a violent film. But the violence was used in an historical context. If it was done in any other context, it may have gotten a higher rating.”
Two other complaints to IFCO included the comedy Daddy’s Home – starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg – and another two were for crime-book adaptation The Girl on a Train.