The Bourne Supremacy

media, movies comments edit

I went on Sunday to see the latest incarnation of Robert Ludlum’s master assassin, Jason Bourne, as played by Matt Damon, in The Bourne Supremacy.

The Bourne Supremacy is the second in the trilogy of Bourne books. We’ve seen two interpretations of the first book, The Bourne Identity, on screen; this is the first time anyone’s ventured past that.

I would say the first movie, also starring Matt Damon, only took the general premise of the book into account and then took liberties with the rest of the plot. The beginning started out like the book, but it slowly diverged from the book as it went along. I liked the movie, but I definitely liked the book better as it had some great psychological stuff in there that probably doesn’t translate well to film.

After watching the second movie, I’m really wondering now if the people who wrote the movie even read the book. I mean, did they even bother skimming the thing? Just read a few pages, guys. Here’s the description from the back of the book:

In a Kowloon Cabaret, scrawled in a pool of blood, is a name the world wanted to forget: Jason Bourne.

The Chinese vice-premier has been brutally slain by a legendary assassin. World leaders ask the same fearful questions: Why has Jason Bourne come back? Who is paying him? Who is the next to die? But U.S. officials know the shocking truth: There is no Jason Bourne. The name was created as cover for David Webb on his search for the notorious killer Carlos. Someone else has taken the Bourne identity–and unless he is stopped, the world will pay a devastating price. So Jason Bourne must live again. Once again, Webb must utilize his lethal skills–because once again, like a nightmare relived, the woman he loves is suddenly torn from his life. To find her, trap his own impostor, and uncover an explosive secret plan, Webb must lauch a desperate oddyssey into the espionage killing fields. But this time, survival will not be enough. This time Bourne must reign supreme.

Okay, now go see the movie. When no one ever even mentions China, you’ll start to wonder what’s up. Not to mention the constant pursuit of the ever-elusive “Carlos” character in the book, who was also in the first book, and who didn’t make it into either of the movies.

I’m not saying this is a bad movie. I liked it. I had a lot of fun with it. I’m saying it had zero to do with the book, aside from the fact the main characters are both named Jason Bourne. Watching the movie didn’t make me feel cheated, it made me feel like they should have named it something else… and then considered it “a new adventure for Jason Bourne.” Something like a “lost chapter” in the character’s history.

Of course, in the books Jason Bourne marries the Marie character (played in the movie by Franka Potente) and they stay together through the entire trilogy. In the movie, in the first five minutes, they kill Marie. What?! That definitely doesn’t happen in the books.

Again - I liked the movie, it just didn’t even remotely follow the book. Not even close.

Should you see it? That depends. If you are a die-hard fan of the books, you will probably be disappointed. Despite the great action and special effects, it will probably stick in your craw that the stuff on the screen has nothing in common with the Bourne universe you know and love. Of course, I loved the books, and I had a great time with the movie. Divorce yourself from the idea that the movie is “based on the novel” and pretend for an instant that it’s just a new adventure with a character you already know and love. Go into it like that, and you’ll have a good time with the movie.

It makes me curious now to see if they’re going to do the third book. No way they could even remain close with that - they’ve already diverged too far and have created their own mythos surrounding Bourne.

Might be cool, though.