It’s been nine years since the last proper Bourne movie (sorry Jeremy Renner, but The Bourne Legacy doesn’t really count).
In that time, we’ve discovered the government really is watching you, and that getting on the wrong side of them really will result in the harshest treatment imaginable. Comic book movies such as the Captain America series may have taken the spy agency-gone-rogue trope and turned it into a template for the modern superhero epic, but Matt Damon’s returning amnesiac super-soldier somehow still doesn’t seem like nearly such a fanciful creation as he used to. Now that the first trailer for Jason Bourne has landed, what data can we glean from our debut opportunity to put Paul Greengrass’s movie under surveillance?
Post-amnesiac Bourne isn’t exactly living the high life
He may have exposed the horrors of Operations Treadstone and Blackbriar and swum off into the New York sunset at the end of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, but JB won’t be posting any snaps from exotic locations on Facebook any time soon. When not doing spy stuff, he’s either lying low in dingy hotel rooms or lined up to take down challengers in scary-looking bare-knuckle boxing matches. Well, we guess a guy can’t live on evil secret spy network pension funds forever.
Bourne 2.0 exists in a post-Snowden spy-verse
The Bourne movies have always had a decent angle on the whole global surveillance thing. The CIA bad guys in Ultimatum managed to track down and kill off poor Guardian journo Paddy Considine after he mentioned the name of a secret spy death squad programme in a simple mobile phone chat to his editor, which kind of makes me wonder whether I should be writing this blogpost at all. But just in case we had any doubts that “Jason Bourne” is right up there with the brave new world of counterintelligence gathering, the trailer reveals the CIA has “just been hacked” and it “could be worse than Snowden”.
But he’s getting a little help from an old friend
The woman extracting all this embarrassingly evil data is Julia Stiles’s returning Nicky Parsons. Because the first thing you want to do when you’ve finally begun to forget about that terrible job you once took as a logistics technician for a nefarious secret government assassin programme is hack them. Stiles seems to have become the “M” or “Q” of the Bourne spy-verse, always around with a helpful hint, instructions on how to get to the next location for mega explosion set-piece mayhem, or a quick beer or two while reminiscing about life in the early days when you remembered who you were.
Exposing Operation Blackbriar wasn’t enough
But why is Bourne bothered about stealing CIA data when everyone already knows about the naughty Blackbriar/Treadstone programmes thanks to his last big screen outing? Stiles tells him “remembering everything doesn’t mean you know everything”. But what does that mean? Are the spymasters brainwashing gullible young Americans and rebooting them as horrifying mindless death automatons with amazing free-running skills all over again? Or are there other secrets from Bourne’s past that have yet to be revealed (clue: Tommy Lee Jones’s sinister agent boss seems to be dropping heavy hints that some bad stuff has gone down).
Vincent Cassel is the new Professor
And here’s the evidence that the world isn’t yet safe from murderous parkour champions with nothing but a determination to maintain American state secrets in their blank cerebellums. Will Cassel do any better than any of the previous operatives, such as Clive Owen’s doleful Professor, who have tried to take down our hero? Will he at least get the chance to share a wistful, all-mindless-death-agents-together moment with JB before being karate-kicked off some Euro rooftop? We’ll just have to wait until July, when Jason Bourne hits multiplexes, to find out.
This article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Friday 22nd April 2016 18.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010