Jason Bourne: smart, determined, indestructible

If I had to rely on the films focused on this character, of which I recently have also watched the first three again, I would come to the conclusion that Jason Bourne doesn’t sleep (and if he tries, he is haunted by nightmares), doesn’t eat, tours half the world mostly by train and this doesn’t seem to tire him the least, isn’t afraid of anything, doesn’t care about anyone (except Marie, that is precisely why she was eliminated in the second film), the rare occasions when he is wounded he becomes stronger, and he doesn’t even need to carry a weapon: when the time comes and he is faced with no less than three well-trained agents, he knock them out within seconds, barehanded, and takes one of their guns.
In short, he is indestructible.

Yes, of course, he had that nasty amnesia and his memories resurface conveniently little by little, so as to put together the plot of another film. But the more he remembers, the less the man he was before emerges: the elusive David Webb.

What I notice as we go on with the films is the disappearance of any empathy in the character, which gradually dehumanises himself as he moves faster and faster from one to another breathtaking action scene.
In “The Bourne Identity” I wondered who he was, just like he did; I felt concern for him and the woman who had decided to trust him and help him. Only some years later, when I read the book by Robert Ludlum, to which it was inspired, I learned this is the only film in the series to have some connection with the novels. And you see it, since Bourne in the first film is a character with a certain depth. Although he instinctively behaves like a war machine, he is full of doubts and fears, like his literary alter ego. The plot is a bit different, because the context in which it takes place is far ahead in time and this required some adaptation. Furthermore, the film medium imposes a certain reduction and simplification of the novel, which, instead, is extremely intricate.

But, since the moment it detaches from the work of Ludlum (which, I must admit, inspired my action thriller “Kindred Intentions”), the one which suffer most from the consequences is precisely Bourne’s character. What characterises this work disappears: this character being a bit crazy, his wavering between the normal personality of Webb and the one thirsty for revenge of Bourne, his being fallible.
In fact, Bourne in films rarely makes a mistake. He is always a step ahead of others. And this characteristic is accentuated by the deletion of any bonds with other people, starting from Marie (played by the talented Franka Potente), even if what moves him is, in theory at least, a desire for revenge as well as survival, combined with the absence of any fear of death.

In this context, the same plots are repeated. Someone wants to kill him, usually someone from the CIA, whether this is an official and approved decision or not. They unleash against him the most ruthless assets (how much I like this term for a hired assassin!). So bad. They kill anyone who stands in their way, but never once they manage to get rid of Bourne.
On the other hand, when he flees in a car or motorcycle with someone, this someone ends up getting the bullet meant for him.
And you don’t know how that has bothered me when I understood that it would happen again in this last film. I was watching the long chase in Athens and I remembered that one in India at the beginning of “The Bourne Supremacy”. It was predictable that it would end like this. And in both cases I was sorry, as two characters (the only ones) with whom he had a bond that gave continuity to the plot were eliminated.

Jason Bourne” is a repetition of all these elements, held together by a secret to be discovered regarding the protagonist’s father, which is the only new element. The rest is action, action, and more action.
Not that I’m complaining. I love action.
During the film I felt glued to my seat to follow the swirling succession of events and continuous cutting away of the camera, accompanied by the certainty that Bourne would always prevail. The fun part was to find out how he would succeed, what they would invent for him to overcome all obstacles, what other famous city he would put on fire and how he still would outwit the others.

And then there are the car chases. It doesn’t matter if his opponent drives a Humvee, blasting the other vehicles as if they were bowling pins, and Bourne has a normal car. The latter will be bruised, but will always be fast, indeed, even faster than before. He, who can do everything, will drive without stopping, dodging the cars that come his way, because he certainly cannot help but enter a trafficked road against the flow. It doesn’t matter if Bourne is injured and not fastening his seat belt. When the car overturns and he comes out limping, he will still be able to fight barehanded with his opponent. He will risk succumbing, but eventually a last-gasp effort will save him.

Let’s not forget his cunning and audacity. Bourne watches from a distance (but not too far) that one CIA character that basically doesn’t consider him a threat, and he anticipates their moves. It had already happened with the one played by Joan Allen in “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”, and now it’s time for Alicia Vikander, whom, although being a good actress and despite I have much appreciated her in other films, I just cannot like in this film because of her selfishness. But do not worry: Bourne has understood her well. He will prove it in the end.

In short, this film has all it takes to please me, but I liked it less than the first and the third one, and I don’t know if more or less then the second one. Maybe it depends on the progressive chillness shown by the protagonist. Or perhaps simply because I didn’t accept how Nicky Parsons, played by Julia Stiles, who is one of my favourite actresses, is treated. Lately she is increasingly relegated to secondary roles in films and I was hoping that after “The Bourne Ultimatum”, where she was one of the main characters, the latter would be repeated in “Jason Bourne”.

Well, I will suck it up. And, if there is a sequel (the open ending would suggest so), I’ll have to see that too. After all, I cannot miss a movie with Matt Damon.