Monday, October 22, 2007


THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002, USA, Doug Liman, Tony Gilroy / W. Blake Herron screenplay from Robert Ludlum novel)
THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004, USA, Paul Greengrass, Tony Gilroy screenplay from Robert Ludlum novel)
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007, Paul Greengrass, Tony Gilroy / Scott Z. Burns screenplay from Robert Ludlum novel)

You start down this path, where does it end?

Pretty much just government paranoia playing out in a never-ending chase – "The Fugitive Goes To Europe," only Jason Bourne is tougher and not so innocent, and the one-armed man he's chasing is more or less himself. Lots of shooting, hand-to-hand fights with amped-up SFX, all sorts of people crashing through glass and falling, and car chases of ever-increasing complexity and improbability. (New York cabbies can't get across town that fast. And he didn't lean on the horn, not even once!). And lots of water.

But if you go for that kind of thing, you may find more here than meets the adrenaline gland. Matt Damon plays a government assassin whose memory has been wiped as part of his top secret programming. He's not sure who he is or where he comes from. He knows he's done wrong, but he doesn't know why, or exactly what. He keeps killing to survive, it seems inevitable, but increasingly he loathes it. So he searches out his origins, and as understanding slowly dawns he yearns for peace, strives to leave behind an old life that clings so close.

Sound familiar? Sound like the set-up for a sermon? Think Saint Paul deserves a story credit? The "Bourne Again" trilogy?

Side note. What's this spate of movies about our inability to remember? MEMENTO, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, even FINDING NEMO and 50 FIRST DATES. David Mamet says that public stories like these are the waking dreams of our culture. So what are our dreams telling us? What do we think we've forgotten? And why does that frighten us so? Peter Chattaway suggests that "most amnesia movies are ultimately about redemption: someone's slate is wiped clean so that he or she can start afresh. But they are also often about atonement: one must retrieve one's memory in order to make right the wrongs of the past."

The Bourne movies aren't deep, but they come from someplace deep. With lots of fights. And, more to the point, lots of water.

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