Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Quest for Jason Bourne

Who is Jason Bourne?

Robert Ludlum is an accomplised writer of best sellers. His plots are often intriguing, with a hint of truth so it is often difficult to distinguish between truth and fiction. Ludlum series of novels on Jason Bourne is my favourite amongst of all his novels.

David Webb was in charge of a special dark operations assassination team during the Vietnam under project Medusa. David is ‘Delta” and is the ruthless leader of the team. The team was made up of criminals and killers. During one of the operation, Delta killed Australian Jason Bourne because Bourne was a double agent. Because of the nature of the team, it was classified and nobody knew that Jason Bourne was dead.

Years later, a CIA black ops unit called Treadstone 71 recruited David Webb (Delta). Because the identity of Delta was too well known, David took on the name of Jason Bourne. The target was to get Carlos the Jackal, known to be the world’s most ruthless and successful assassin. Webb/Bourne took on the identity of Cain. Cain will be another ruthless successful assassin, often taking credits for Carlos’ kills. The idea is to get Carlos to come after Webb/Bourne/Cain so that Cain can eliminate Carlos. Unfortunately during one of the operations, Webb/Bourne/Cain lost his memory.

The Robert Ludlum novel, The Bourne Identity (1980) was where Webb tried to regain his memory as Jason Bourne. The Bourne Supremacy (1986), the US government tried to get David Webb to become Jason Bourne again. Apparently some one was using Jason Bourne’s name to conduct assassination in the Far East. In the end it turned out that there is no phony Bourne but a US government plot for Jason Bourne to kill a Chinese warlord. The Bourne Ultimatum (1990) was about Carlos taking revenge on Jason Bourne and the way these two assassins fought each other.

Eric Van Lustbader took up the series by writing The Bourne Legacy (2004) and The Bourne Betrayal (2007). I have almost finished reading The Bourne Betrayal which is an excellent thriller to read.

21st century films are The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). There was an earlier movie, The Bourne Identity (1988) starring Richard Chamberlain. The present Bourne movies portray a simpler Jason Bourne and does not follow Robert Ludlum’s plot closely.

The storyline for The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) is simple. It is to tie up all the loose ends in the earlier two movies. However the action and cinematography makes it exciting to watch and makes the movie longer.

In a way, the screenplay was formulaic as it shows how Bourne eludes his pursuers, being helped by a girl who has to dye her hair, and the incompetence of CIA’s finest. Matt Damon plays a good Jason Bourne, making believable that a person can be trained as a weapon of mass destruction. I believe we will not see the end of Jason Bourne on the big screen.

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Blogger kc bob said...

I saw the Richard Chamberlain version.. not very good.. and all of the Damon movies. I like the plot twists and action. I also think that Bourne will be back.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi kansas bob,

I am trying to get hold of the Richard Chamberlain version. You gave 8 stars fot the movie! Man, you must really like it.

12:19 AM  
Blogger kc bob said...

8 stars for Ultimatum right.. although I mght think it more of a 7 star movie today :)

2 stars for the Chamberlain movie :)

2:02 AM  
Blogger Leon Jackson said...

I loved the Bourne movies, never read the books though. It is a breath of fresh air in Hollywood, an intelligent alternative to James Bond and all the cliché movies. The producers made a good move in hiring Paul Greengrass an independent director as he gave the film its realistic character with much hand held camera work and non glamorous fights and action sequences. There was much artistic symbolicism as well, for example, in the first movie bond comes from the sea, and in the final, he returns to it. I enjoyed it very much, and rank it as my favorite spy action flick of all time.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Reb Anthony Loke said...

watched the first 2 movies and will try to get my hand son the 3rd. enjoyable alternative to the bond series.

only complaint is that sometimes things are portrayed as 'perfect'. although trained to speak different languages and read maps, bourne sometimes is portrayed as if he knows the details of every place he goes to even though he has not been there before. maybe the time taken to survey the area is telescoped and we are not shown.

one good example is the 2nd movie where the russian secret service agent comes to india to kill bourne. a car chase takes place. how does the russian knows which road to drive to intercept bourne? or to know it is better not to chase across the bridge but to use his sniper rifle to shoot instead? or when he goes to look for the daughter of the late russian activist, how does he find her in the flats with just a single clue from an old lady? moscow is not a small place.

things need to be believable in order to convince.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi leon,

I enjoyed the Bond movies too. I am a bit confused by the last part of your comment "There was much artistic symbolicism as well, for example, in the first movie bond comes from the sea, and in the final, he returns to it. I enjoyed it very much, and rank it as my favorite spy action flick of all time."

Are you referring to Bond or Bourne? Sorry for the late respond.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi anthony,

I noticed that too. Bourne's moves are too perfectly executed and timed. I am thinking about the 'perfect' training he had.

I believed that have been a lot of cutting going on. In the 3rd movie, what is the relationship between the girl in Treadstone (from the second movie) who is helping him. Is there a 'history' between them. I am waiting for the extended director's cut DVD to come out.

12:26 PM  

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