From the Archives: The Bourne Revisited

From the Archives: The Bourne Revisited

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

I was never a big fan of the Bourne series. The first entry was enjoyable but mostly felt bland to me, the second was way too frenetic with the camera work for my taste, and the third never grabbed my attention whenever it came on TV. I didn’t even bother with the fourth. Buuuuuut in the spirit of preparing myself for the upcoming fifth entry, simply titled Jason Bourne, I thought maybe I’d give the series another shot. I’m sincerely glad I did. Not only did I find a new love for the series, but I also managed to get myself pretty durn pumped for the new one. So in case you aren’t a power-nerd like myself who spends his spare bits of free time watching movies, I’ve decided to recap the ENTIRE Bourne series for you in one handy dandy article. Let’s start from the beginning.


The Bourne Identity (2002, dir. Doug Liman)image1

This movie begins with a fishing boat finding Good Will Hunting floating unconscious in the ocean. They bring him aboard and ask him who he is. He’s all like “Yo, I don’t know who I am LET’S FIGHT,” but the kindly old sea captain says “whoa there, guy, you had bullet wounds in your back, but I fixed you with my sailor powers and found this laser projector buried in your supple flesh.” The laser projector shoots a number on the wall that everyone thinks is a bank account in Zurich. The captain says “you seem like a nice, handsome boy, so have some of my money and go to Zurich.” So Good Will Hunting takes the money and goes to Zurich. When he gets there he opens the bank account which actually isn’t a bank account but a safety deposit box. In the box is a bunch of passports, money, and a gun. He takes the passports and money but leaves the gun which is probably a bad idea for anyone who just woke up with bullet holes in their body and mysterious access to passports and a gun. He chooses the name on the American passport to be his identity. The name is Jason Bourne. Bourne is his identity, which is likely where the title came from.

A bank employee sees Bourne and calls Hannibal Lecktor and says “mah dude, Jason Bourne is back!” and Hannibal Lecktor is all like “well he better get dead real fast!” Lecktor calls his buddies, hitman 1, hitman 2, and Showtime’s The Knick to kill Bourne. He also tells the cops to make him dead too.

Meanwhile, Bourne meets Lady, who is fighting with a dude at the American embassy and says “drive me places and I’ll pay you too much money.” So she does and they fall in love forever. They go to France but hitman 1 shows up and they get in a fight. Bourne wins the fight and hitman 1 jumps out the window because he doesn’t want to talk about it.

Hannibal Lecktor and his buddy, Chris Cooper (as himself) stand in a room full of computers and yell about things. You get the sense that they are in charge of stuff and know more about Bourne than Bourne does. You also get the feeling that they don’t really like each other even though they are both generally angry people who should get along because they are so similar.

Bourne and Lady meet up with Lady’s ex-boyfriend and move into his house, which is a rude thing to do, especially when people are trying to kill you. Naturally, Showtime’s The Knick shows up to kill Bourne, but Bourne shoots him in a field. It’s mostly boring. Showtime’s The Knick gives up some information, but I don’t know what it was because it was pretty bored at this point and still pretty pissed that Bourne put a whole family in danger just so he could get some breakfast. Not cool, dude.

Bourne goes to the Bourne base to figure out who he is and when he gets there he remembers that he was supposed to kill a guy, but didn’t because the guy’s kids were there. I guess Bourne used to care about that kind of thing. Anywho, he was shot twice and fell in the ocean, so now we know what the deal with the beginning of the movie was. At the base, he tells Chris Cooper “I quit this job. Don’t follow me or I’ll fight you.” He leaves and then Hannibal Lecktor has hitman 2 kill Chris Cooper because Bourne wasn’t supposed to be allowed to quit.

Bourne and Lady go to another country where they live happily ever after … or so we thought.

Cue Moby.

Review: This movie aged poorly and is exactly as boring as I remember.

image2The Bourne Supremacy (2004, dir. Paul “What’s a tripod?” Greengrass)

Two years after the previous film, Bourne and Lady are living it up in some other country. Tropical drinks, sun, sand, and super sweet lovemaking all night long, baybay. PARTY TIME ALL THE TIME. Sometimes Bourne has flashbacks of his old job, and he writes about them in a journal because for some reason, he wants to remember his old job THAT HE HATED.

Elsewhere, Judge Dredd steals some government stuff and kills some government people and puts Bourne’s fingerprints all over the place. Then he goes to the country where Bourne lives and shoots him while he’s driving, but he misses and kills Lady instead. Oops. Bourne and Lady crash their car into some water and Bourne tries to kiss her back to life while under water. It takes a while, and Judge Dredd assumes that Bourne is dead and totally leaves. Rookie mistake, Dredd. You forgot that Bourne received invincibility training, you idiot.

Remember when Bourne said “Don’t follow me or I’ll fight you”? Well he thinks that Judge Dredd was sent by his old boss, so now he’s ready to start fighting. And since Lady just died, Bourne is OFF THE CHAIN. He’s got nothing to lose, and he’s stronger than anyone in the whole world, except for maybe The Rock.

Mrs. FACE/OFF is a government agent that kinda works for Bourne’s old boss, and when she finds out about Bourne’s fingerprints that were planted by Judge Dredd, she asks Hannibal Lecktor what the dilly is regarding Bourne’s old job. Hannibal Lecktor is all like “sorry, lady, but thats above your pay grade.” Mrs. FACE/OFF decides to catch Bourne herself and travels to where he is (some other country).

Bourne finds another guy who used to work at his job, and then they fight. Bourne beats him up with a rolled-up magazine like he’s an insolent pet (note: I do not agree with this approach to raising a pet. Reward, not punishment, is the way to go, as any psychologist will tell you).

Bourne starts to remember another old mission from his old job and realizes that much like the mission he remembered in the last movie, it didn’t go as planned and now he feels bad about it so he calls Mrs. FACE/OFF, who is now working with her friend, Save the Last Dance, and explains himself. They’re like “ohhhhhhh, ok.”

Bourne then forces Hannibal Lecktor to admit to being the real boss at his old job. Lecktor feels bad and kills himself in front of Mrs. FACE/OFF who is now becoming fast friends with Bourne.

Bourne then heads to Russia to tell a lady that his old job made him kill her parents, but then Judge Dredd shows up and they get in a car fight. Bourne wins. Then he finally does find the lady and says he’s sorry that he killed her parents, but he was just doing his job. Then he calls Mrs. FACE/OFF and they agree to end the movie at this point.

Cue Moby.

Review: This one was considerably better than I remember. The shaky cam wasn’t nearly as oppressive as I’d initially thought, but could still use some reigning in. This is easily the best of the series.

image3The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, dir. Paul “Shake it like a Polaroid picture” Greengrass)

Bourne continues regretting ever taking his previous job, and reads some articles by a guy who wants to expose how bad the job was. Bourne decides that they should meet and talk about it, but then the guy gets shot in the head because he got scared and stopped listening to Bourne. Bourne sees the guy’s head explode and is all like “ah jeez, I wasted the whole first 20 minutes of the movie trying to save this guy and his head got ‘sploded! Just my luck!”

Mrs. FACE/OFF is back and she’s also pretty upset about Bourne’s old job, and now she’s working to let the world know how bad the job was. Unfortunately, in order to find Bourne she has to work with Good Night and Good Luck, who is a real jerk.

Bourne finds Lady’s brother (remember Lady?) and tells him how she died. He’s certainly not happy, but then again, Daniel Brühl (as himself) never plays happy characters. Ever. Bourne leaves and visits an old coworker’s apartment, and wouldn’t you know it? There are hitmen there, ready to kill Bourne. Bourne taps into his invincibility training and beats them both up, but it’s kinda hard to see how he does it. Mostly you just have to sit still and hope that at the end of the kerfluffle, Bourne is the one who isn’t dead. After he dispatches the hitmen, Save the Last Dance shows up for no reason whatsoever, and Bourne says “welp, now you gotta come with me” and pretends like he’s going to kill her if she doesn’t come with him, but we all know he wouldn’t do that because deep down he’s actually Good Will Hunting.

Bourne calls Mrs. FACE/OFF and she tells him his real name is David Webb (Good Will Hunting) and then they agree to end the second movie, because this is actually the same phone call from the end of the second movie. Then they both agree that it’s actually the middle of the third movie, and they should continue doing the movie.

Bourne finds more information and then the hitman that shot the reporter at the beginning chases him. At some point, Bourne punches a dude in the throat with a hardcover book. It’s really awesome. Eventually, he and the hitman get in a car fight and after a bunch of crashing, Bourne decides to let the hitman live because “we’re not so different, you and I.” Bourne’s invincibility training is useful for the times that he’s near explosions, times when glass shards are unable to puncture his skin, and times when he drives a car off of a parking garage and walks it off. He clearly practiced a lot.

Bourne suddenly remembers that he actually signed up to work at his old job, which is how most jobs go, but here’s it’s shocking because his old job was a really bad job that no one would sign up for. Good Night and Good Luck shows up and shoots Bourne, but he jumps into the river out of a very tall building and is presumed dead. Everyone who presumes that he is dead seems to have forgotten about his invincibility training. Fools, the lot of ’em!

Later, Save the Last Dance is watching the news and the reporter says that Bourne’s body hasn’t been found. She smiles because she hasn’t forgotten about his invincibility training.

Cue an odd, but pleasing remix of Moby.

Review: Not quite as good as Supremacy, but a solid thriller with some well choreographed (if not that well shot) action. I’ve really grown to care about Bourne as a character, even though all we’ve learned about him at his point is that he took a crap job, showed a small amount of ethical conduct, and now has to pay for it. Poor guy.

image4The Bourne Legacy (2012, dir. Tony Gilroy)

Ummm that’s not Jason Bourne, that’s Hawkeye. Something something chems something something vectors something something viral. Vroom vroom punch, talk, broooooood.

Cue terrible remix of Moby.

Review: This movie is way too long and very boring. It’s 2 hours, 15 minutes long but it took me 4 hours to watch because I kept getting distracted by other more exciting things such as the wall, the other wall, and how nice it feels to rub my feet together.

Leave a Reply