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The Jason Bourne Thread


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Since one superspy already has his own thread, I thought the other massive name in espionage (and my personal favourite) deserved one. I'm not a massive fan of the films, they were good enough I guess and I think Damon's portrayal of Bourne was pretty a-ok --but I am a huge fan of the three novels by Robert Ludlum: Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum. They are probably my favourite books made by anybody ever. I think a major opportunity was lost by making the trilogy of films so loosely grounded in the source material; the first one was closest to the book and was therefore probably the best, but it abandoned the plot about halfway through, cut out the main villain (the entire reason for Jason Bourne's fabrication in the first place) and felt the need to update the time setting to the present day of when the film was released as opposed to sticking to the late '80s setting of the book.

From there on out, the subsequent two films had absolutely sod all to do with either book they were based on, and I felt they suffered hugely as a consequence. They killed off vital characters like Alex Conklin and Marie without allowing them to develop to their full potential (Alex as a haunted, brilliant analyst who made a horrendous mistake in Identity and spentds the rest of the series trying to make up for the damage he caused, as opposed to a one-dimensional villain. And Marie as way more than just a damsel-in-distress/cannon fodder). They also lost out in terms of setting, The Bourne Supremacy the book was set mainly in China and Hong Kong against the background of the transfer from British rule to Chinese rule, there was way more at stake than just Bourne's life, the American government drew him into a hugely politically charged situation in an attempt to avert a massive civil war. It saw him pitted against an impersonator as well, and the Bourne vs. Bourne clash was key to the plot/concept/title of the book.

Most of all, I feel they missed the opportunity to explore what makes Bourne truly unique as a character. He's more than just an amnesiac, the memory loss combined with the huge amount of conflict and turmoil in his life created multiple personalities in his head which would often come to blows in charged situations as David Webb (the man Bourne was born, a morally upright, academic family man) struggles to cope with the things that Jason Bourne (the cold-blooded assassin) and Delta One (the battle-crazed, ruthless mercenary from Webb's days in the Vietnam war) have to do just in order to survive...

Anyways, now there's another film coming out:

If this continues along the format of having nothing to do with the books it's based on, then it may be passable, but often as not when you take an iconic franchise and try to continue it after the main players have left then artistically it deteriorates horrendously. If I'm being honest, I already kind of hate this because it acknowledges the existence of the massively inferior 6 or so trashy sequel novels by Eric Van Lustbader.

During these novels, Van Lustbader manages to successfully: Kill off ALL of the peripheral characters apart from Bourne. Eliminate Bourne's multiple personalities for the ease of writing. Do virtually no research about any of the locations "Bourne" visits. Have Bourne as a 60+ year old man surviving falls down 100ft frozen waterfalls, running about fighting generic Islamic terrorists in a way most 20-year-olds would struggle to do.

Do no research at all about the gadgets Bourne supposedly uses. AT ALL. In one book, he has Bourne apparently carrying around a Playstation 3 to use as a memory storage device. One can only assume that Bourne was also working with a really long extension cable and somehow carrying a television and a controller as well... As opposed to just reading on Google that the device is actually called a Playstation Portable, or PSP.

Fucking Eric Van Lustbader.

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I've never read the novels so I've really enjoyed the movies. I actually thought Supremacy was the best one, with Ultimatum not too far behind. I really need to get the set on Blu-ray as I never got around to buying them. I don't think I'll rush to see the new one as I have little interest without Damon but it could still be a decent film. The trailer looks good enough.

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I am aware that my opinion on these films is somewhat of a minority view among most people that I talk to. Most people see them as a collection of modern, intelligent thrillers... I just really think they could have been so much more; they might not have been as accessible or mass-appealing if they'd followed the books, but artistically they would have been in another league... I mean, they didn't even try.

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  • 3 months later...

So how was the movie? It seems they knew the film wasn't going to make enough since it was dumped in August and didn't have Matt Damon. They are confirmed to be teaming up in the sequel.

I should watch the first three Bourne films and the last three 007 back to back. Will have to wait for Skyfall to be released on blu ray.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 3 weeks later...

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