"I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred and fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?"
—Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity
A series of action films tenuously (pretty tenuously) based on the Robert Ludlum books of the same name and starring Matt Damon. It revolutionized the spy genre for its simplicity as well as for having a smart protagonist, eurotrotting (with virtually zero California Doubling), well-crafted suspense and aggressive action sequences. Jason Bourne is an amnesiac who finds himself with super-assassin skills and has to stay on the run from former employers and whoever else wants to manipulate him to evil ends. Each movie follows a slightly different story but retains some basic elements of Bourne eluding government custody, killing a fellow assassin with some household implement and going for an innovative and harrowing car chase.So far, there are four films in the series:
The Bourne Identity (2002): A man (Bourne) is fished out of the Mediterranean Sea riddled with bullet-holes and with no memory of who he is. He makes the surprising discovery that he knows how to speak several languages, has plenty of money and passports in a safety deposit box, and he knows how to kill anything that moves. Retracing his steps, he finds himself being hunted by the government and, with the help of a pretty German globetrotter, he goes in search of his identity.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004): After a botched undercover mission, a CIA operations leader finds evidence that Bourne was responsible for killing their agents. He's not, but those who framed him also want to tie up loose ends and send an assassin played by Karl Urban to track him down and kill him. He survived their initial encounter but his girlfriend was killed in the process. Angry and wroth with revenge, Bourne comes out of hiding to find the people who killed her and bring them to justice, and to also start making amends for past wrongs. This brings him into direct conflict with the remnants of Treadstone.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007): Picking up where Supremacy left off, Bourne is on another mad chase - this time, it's to pick apart all of the loose ends about his identity and life, as he sets out to track down the source of the Government Conspiracy that made him into a weapon and caused all the trouble in the first place. This leads him through a series of individuals with the information he needs, and he picks up an unexpected ally in the computer specialist who had been in the background of the previous films. Cleverly retconsthe second movie's final scene and thus takes place contemporary with part of Supremacy.
The Bourne Legacy (2012): Matt Damon has refused to make another film without Paul Greengrass (director of Supremacy and Ultimatum) involved, and Greengrass has insisted that he's yet to find a story good enough to merit a continuation of the franchise. As a result, the studio have created the new character Aaron Cross, to be played by Jeremy Renner and directed by the writer of the first three movies, Tony Gilroy. Cross is a trained operative much like Bourne and has to deal with the fallout of him tearing apart the organization that created them, barely surviving The Purge and meets up with a scientist involved with the program. Edward Norton plays an official involved with the deeper aspects of the program trying to cover up the fine details. Similarly, it takes place at about the same time as Supremacy and Ultimatum.
The success of the Matt Damon trilogy helped influence many films, including the direction of the rebooted James Bond franchise with Casino Royale.
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This series as a whole provides examples of:
Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several, including the dialogue with Professor in Identity, Bourne's apology to Irena Neski in Supremacy, and the conversation (rather monologue) with Nicky in Ultimatum.
Anyone Can Die: Several important characters are surprisingly dispatched over the course of the series. In the first film, Conklin is anticlimactically murdered at the end. In Supremacy, Marie (a character who survived the entire book series) is suddenly killed during a chase sequence. Later, Danny Zorn, Conklin's right-hand man and one of the few surviving Treadstone agents, is murdered by Ward Abbot. Abbot is later exposed as a murderer and traitor and commits suicide. In Ultimatum, Simon Ross (played by notable actor Paddy Considine) is set up to be a main character, then efficiently dispatched by an assassin. Neal Daniels is set up to be the man who could answer Bourne's questions, but is blown up. In fact the only major characters to survive the series are Bourne, Nicky Parsons, and Pamela Landy.
Arc Words: "Look at us. Look at what they make you give."
Artifact Title: The Bourne Identity makes sense given the context of the movie. The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum... less so. And of course, the Bourne Legacy doesn't even have Bourne in it (though that's the Legacy part).
California Doubling: Spectacularly averted for the most part, with only a few minor exceptions:
Scenes from Zürich and the French countryside in Identity were filmed in the Czech Republic (in and around Prague), The skyline of and scene taking place in Amsterdam in Supremacy are probably filmed there as well and the very brief re-appearance of Moscow in Ultimatum was filmed around old GDR era buildings in Berlin.
In Ultimatum they filmed a scene set at the Waterloo train station on location, but there was no way they could get the location shut down for filming, so they just worked around the crowd. It generally worked alright as they put up signs to please ignore the film crew.
Car Fu: Used by both Bourne and the hitmen sent to eliminate him during the car chases in the second and third movie. LARX-3 constantly crashes cars and at one point a bus in an effort to kill Cross in Legacy.
Charles Atlas Superpower: Subverted, ultimately; Jason Bourne manages some exceptional, apparently superhuman feats, but the fourth movie shows that Treadstone's personnel, along with several other project's agents, were actually altered by retroviral engineering to be stronger, smarter, and faster than ordinary humans.
Chekhov's Gunman: In Identity Wombosi's children are mentioned and seen briefly before a flashback reveals they're the reason Bourne couldn't kill Wombosi on the boat.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Ward Abbott, who first betrayed his superiors to form a black ops squad with Conklin, then betrayed his black ops squad to use it for personal gain and finally betrayed Conklin as well.
Even Evil Has Standards: Treadstone is supposed to have transformed Bourne into the ultimate assassin, but he can't bring himself to kill a father while his kids are watching. Since his plan necessitated a lack of witnesses, meaning if he had killed Wombosi, said children would have been next.
Film Noir: Some of the stylistic elements of the series (e. g. Bourne is a loner on the run investigating the convoluted secrets behind his past, most of the action in Europe takes place during the snowy winter months, adding to the gloomy atmosphere, etc.).
Bourne is what you get if you combine Bond and Batman.
Same for Aaron Cross, as the alterations specifically allowed him to have a sharper thinking process and increased strength.
The Government: The movies take a very unsympathetic view about American government. More specifically, they portray the government as made up by ethically bankrupt officials busy conducting illegal assassination projects, and when those projects are exposed, they choose to kill their fellow countrymen rather than face trial. This is most notable in Legacy, where no one officials question the illegality of murdering fellow Americans. In fact, all of them appear to regard their targets as terrorists.
Hidden Supplies: Bourne's only clue to his identity was a safety deposit box in Switzerland, with cash, fake ID's for multiple countries and a gun. Aaron had a car parked in an unknown location with similar items hidden inside one of the doors.
Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is one of Bourne's field handlers on an extremely sensitive mission and apparently has beyond Top Secret clearance given what she is involved in (monitoring all of the Treadstone field agents). In other words, significantly more dangerous to the Agency than Bourne is if she screws up, or if something was missed in her vetting and she is less than 100% loyal. When the movie was filmed, Julia Stiles was a very young looking twenty-one. There's an attempted Lampshade in Supremacy when Nicky explains her cover was an exchange student studying in Paris.
Bourne himself looks like he could be another offender, but Damon is just very slow aging. He is a very boyish looking 31-32 during filming of the first movie, which is actually appropriate for someone who is an experienced soldier who volunteers for a CIA black ops job.
Improvised Weapon: Bourne has used pens, magazines, hand towels, and bathrooms as lethal weapons. Yes, the whole bathroom. And a toaster. In bonus section it's revealed that he uses Filipino Kali, a practical martial art that emphasizes quick reflexes and subduing enemies while using improvised weapons.
Indy Ploy: Arguably, since Bourne is constantly forced to improvise some kind of escape.
The premise is mostly kept intact, but the film and book series diverge wildly in where they go from there. The movies are well-crafted and well-respected, having set a new standard for action flicks. They just, you know, don't follow Ludlum's plot.
The Bourne Legacy is the most spectacular example of this. Not only does it not follow the novel, the eponymous Bourne himself does not appear in person.
I Surrender, Suckers: Used by Bourne once in Supremacy, when he intentionally lets himself be caught in USA consulate in Naples, and once in Ultimatum, surrendering to the NY police to hijack their car.
Jitter Cam: In the last two films. In the second one, especially, to the point that many theater-goers experienced headaches. Toned down for the third. Legacy featured a new director and thus was removed almost entirely.
Frequently used by Bourne to escape his pursuers. Helped popularize the art.
Also used by Aaron Cross as short cuts to the second floor of Marta's house, and all over the roofs of Manila.
Long Runner Tech Marches On: Look at the mobile phones throughout the series. In Identity, they're all late-90s basic phones; By Supremacy, we start to see early smartphones and PD As, such as the HP PDA used to ID Bourne's fingerprint.
Love Redeems: Bourne refrains from killing for Marie's sake.
Master of Disguise: Bourne's character was influenced by 20th-century assassin Carlos "The Jackal", who was infamous for his ability to blend in and elude the authorities. Carlos himself appears as an antagonist in the novels.
Moscow/The New Russia: The second main setting of Supremacy and at the beginning of Ultimatum. Bourne's unofficial first mission consisted in the assassination of a progressive Russian politician.
Myth Arc: the overarching storyline across all movies is about illegal superhuman assassin projects that are controlled by ethically bankrupt American government officials.
Never Forgotten Skill: Jason Bourne is introduced with having amnesia. However, his memory loss does not affect his combat skills in the slightest.
New Skills as the Plot Demands: Justified in the first film; Bourne has a ton of skills that help him disappear, beat people up and kill. He doesn't know about most of them until he has to use them; best demonstrated when a couple cops try to arrest him for sleeping on a park bench. A few seconds later they're both disabled and he is standing over them with one of their service pistols, a look of utter bewilderment on his face.
Omniscient Database: The CIA's database. And granted, there's a CD containing various project personnel...
One-Man Army: Bourne, and indeed any of the Treadstone/Blackbriar operatives.
Paranoia Fuel: in-universe. The American government is depicted to be controlled by ethically bankrupt spies who are capable and willing to assassinate anyone (even their fellow Americans) anywhere for self-serving interests. The worst part? Divine intervention aside, they will always get away with it. This is best shown in the scene where CIA-sent therapists try to kill Marta and make it look like suicide.
There are no evil female characters in the first three movies. Either they are sympathetic to begin with, or if antagonistic toward Bourne, are established as being misinformed and at once turn good after learning the truth.
Does not hold true for Legacy, where the leader of the team sent to kill Marta is a female, as is a prominent member of Byer's team.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Overall opinion is that they're great movies. The books were written in the 80's, with the Cold War going on. This topic just doesn't carry the same impact now. Plus, the real-life terrorist at the center of the book series, Carlos the Jackal, had been in prison years before the movies were ever made.
Reality Ensues: At the end of Ultimatum, Landy faxes classified documents about CIA black operations to the public. This makes her a subject to a criminal investigation in Legacy, because, after all, those documents are classified.
Revealing Coverup: The whole point of Treadstone is to avoid this trope, as all of Bourne's kills are supposed to look like internal rivalries or murder/suicides. As Bourne's handler puts it: "I don't send you to kill; I send you because you don't exist!"
Retcon: All sequels fill in Bourne's backstory in ways that color the previous film(s), and introduce increasingly higher-ranked government officials who were really in charge of the Treadstone/Blackbriar program. But the prime example is how Ultimatum reuses the final scene of Supremacy halfway through its runtime, recontextualizing the dialog and turning the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming of Supremacy into a Crowning Moment Of Awesome in Ultimatum.
Rule of Symbolism: Water symbolizes death. In Identity, Jason was discovered in the middle of the ocean after having been shot by Wombosi's men. In Supremacy, Marie gets shot while driving, taking their jeep off the bridge to the water below, and his first assignment in Treadstone took place on a rainy night. And in Ultimatum, it's shown in flashbacks that, as David Webb, he was waterboarded into becoming Jason Bourne when he first joined Treadstone, and in the end, he falls into the water after apparently being shot, mirroring his first appearance.
Serial Escalation: The first movie concerns about an amnesiac man wanting to quit his job as a contract killer. Fast forward to the fourth movie, and we have ever-growing superhuman projects engineered by ethically bankrupt officials in charge of American spy agencies.
Spiritual Successor: Green Zone is from the same director as the last two films, has the same leading man, is loosely based on a book, involves a possible cover-up, and was even described by Greengrass as "a look inside a privileged world few people see", except it's the military instead of spycraft.
Tomato in the Mirror: The Reveal in Identity. After spending most of the film running away from the CIA, in addition to murdering two CIA assassins to survive, Bourne eventually discovers that he is, in fact, a CIA assassin himself.
Trilogy Creep: The third film tied things up nicely, though leaving them open ended should Matt Damon decide to reprise his role. So far he hasn't wanted to, but that hasn't kept the studio from dishing out a new film with a new lead in his place.
Too Dumb to Live: Simon Ross, the Guardian reporter who got in way over his head, and despite Bourne's repeated warnings, panicked and decided that it would be a good idea to try and escape a security trap on his own.
We All Live in America: It appears the CIA can do almost anything they want in any European country while the local authorities dutifully assist them, or at least don't do anything to hinder them. That the local authorities might refuse to help the CIA based of the fact that an American organization has no jurisdiction in their countries never seems to have crossed the writers' minds.
Weapon of Choice: Many of the assassins use weapons manufactured by Sig-Sauer, Glock and Beretta
Xanatos Speed Chess: Bourne is the master of this trope. The CIA operatives try hard to Out Gambit him in every movie. They always fail miserably...
The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Identity provides examples of:
Alas, Poor Villain: The Professor's death scene. Despite trying to kill Bourne seconds earlier, our hero is horrified to realize he's another Treadstone agent. The audience already knows this, which may fatigue them with exposition. The screen writer avoids this by injecting humanity into him, so instead of a steely eyed assassin, we meet a very human figure. Bleeding to death slowly, he begins to seemingly babble as Bourne tries to interrogate him, asking Bourne where he comes from, and darkly laughing about their terrible headaches— a result of their mutual behavioral conditioning. In fact, he is not babbling, but seeking commonality in his final moments. Near death, he looks down at his own wound, turns to Bourne and moans his haunting final words, "Look at this. Look at what they make you give." The scene sets a tone for the rest of the movie series. It would initially seem to be about the Professor's lost life, but over the course of the trilogy, with the eventual losses Bourne will endure, the audience sees that he's really talking about his sacrifice of his humanity to his government, and is echoed in the final movie as Jason Bourne's last line.
"Look at us. Look at what they make you give."
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The name on Bourne's Russian passport is written "Kiniaev Foma" in Latin letters and "Лштшфум Ащьф " (Lshtshfum Aschf) in Cyrillic letters. Apparently, the designers of the prop just typed the name in the Russian keyboard layout without actually translating it. The name was corrected in The Bourne Supremacy.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Say what you will about Bourne's boss, but the guy briefly fought Bourne, ripped him apart with a lecture while held at gunpoint and actually stumbled after Bourne even though he had to know he'd probably die. If nothing else, he was tough.
Bait and Switch: After leaving Treadstone's Paris HQ, Jason is seen walking down a street. We cut to a Treadstone agent preparing his pistol, seeing a shadowy figure approaching his car. He steps out of the car, but instead of Bourne, it's Conklin, who's unceremoniously shot by him.
Better to Die than Be Killed: Castel after his fight with Bourne. He throws himself out of the window and off the balcony when Jason is distracted by Marie.
Boom, Headshot: As Nikwana Wombosi walks down a flight of stairs in conversation with someone behind him, he passes by a window at head level. That's all it takes for The Professor to snipe at him with four shots — one to kill, and three just to be certain.
Car Chase: Several in every film. The car chase between Bourne and the Paris police from the first movie is rather original and involves surprisingly little in the way of crashes. And it's freaking hilarious, since Bourne's making his dramatic getaway through the crowded streets in Marie's old and battered 1960s Mini Cooper.
Cloth Fu: At one point in the movie, Bourne uses a hand towel to kill an assassin.
Cold Sniper: The Professor, who demonstrates his sniper skills for the audience on Wombosi. He's silent and stealthy throughout the majority of his scenes thanks not just in part to having no lines, but also due to the silencer on his weapon. When he comes into contact with Nicky to receive his assignment, he appears without warning, wordlessly takes his instructions, and disappears, leaving Nicky a little unnerved. Almost as if playing on the "cold sniper" visual pun, his sniper showdown with Bourne takes place in a dead corn field surrounded by snow covered hills.
Come Alone: Jason tells Conklin this. Conklin is smart enough to disguise his backup as innocent bystanders, but Jason doesn't buy it. Turns out Jason only wanted to lure him out into the open so he could put a tracker on their van, leading him to their local safe house.
Darkest Africa: The dictator Nikwana Wombosi comes from an unmentioned (but subtly revealed — see Lawyer-Friendly Cameo) African country rife with infighting and military juntas.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Everyone seems to agree Wombosi's a pretty bad guy, but when he sees Jason hesitating to kill him because of the child on his lap, he refuses to use her as a shield. He picks her up and moves her to the side without attempting to move out from under the gun, giving Jason an easy, clear shot to kill him. (He doesn't.)
Hoist by His Own Petard: Conklin had been responsible for multiple assassinations around Europe and had ordered Bourne killed. By the end he himself was killed by a Treadstone agent on Abbott's orders.
Heroic BSOD: After the Mood Whiplash events of having a man with an assault rifle suddenly crash through the window and attack Jason, finding her own face on a wanted poster in the assassin's bag, and then see him commit suicide for no logical reason, Marie goes into shock and has to be dragged from the apartment by Jason.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Par for the course for a spy thriller, but Jason really takes home the gold. Immediately after the Guns Akimbo example, he jumps down the middle of a stairwell on the back of a corpse, and shoots a man between the eyes. While falling. Seriously.
In Memoriam: The film is dedicated to Robert Ludlum, creator of the Bourne series, and Claire Hammond, a colleague of director Doug Liman.
I Need a Freaking Drink: Jason tells Marie to wait in the car, and is pissed when he comes back to find her missing. She's gone to buy a small bottle of whiskey which she rather needs after everything that's happened.
Lampshade Hanging: “Boy, great police work! Really brilliant! Why don't they just hang out a banner that says, "Don't come back!" Jesus Christ! What is the French word for "stakeout"?”
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Subverted with Wombosi's homeland. Because the characters never mention verbally where he's from, one is led to believe it's a typical Hollywood unnamed Banana Republic in Darkest Africa. However, when Bourne reads about his assassination in the newspaper, the caption notes that he was the ruler of Nigeria. Counts as a Bilingual Bonus: if you know or can recognize Yoruba, which Wombosi speaks at some point during the film, it's pretty obvious where he's from.
Mugging the Monster: In the beginning of the movie, a couple cops try to arrest Bourne for sleeping on a park bench. It ends badly.
Shutting Up Now: Marie says this on the way to Paris when she explains that she tends to ramble when she's nervous. And she was nervous, because Jason had been stoically staring out of the window the entire time, not saying a thing. Jason says he doesn't mind, though, and even asks her to keep going, explaining it has been a while since he had a casual "conversation" with someone.
Small Role, Big Impact: Clive Owen as "The Professor". He has only 3 minutes of total screentime, and he never talks until his final scene, almost a half-hour from the end, in which he delivers the Arc Words "Look at us. Look at what they make you give."
Took a Level in Badass: When Bourne first sets out to find his identity, he is given ill-fitting, ratty clothes by fishermen, and sticks out in his surroundings not simply due to his ignorance of his identity, but visibly by his outfit. Over the course of the movie, as he investigates his past and comes to better understand his skills, his behavior changes. By the time he duels The Professor, his awkward demeanor has transformed into a more heroic self confidence, symbolized by his new upgraded clothing, complete with an additional longcoat.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Treadstone Asset Manheim, seen several times throughout the movie, just up and vanishes. In Supremacy, Bourne confronts an Asset named Jarda who says they are the last two agents. It could be assumed they simply decided to replace Manheim with Jarda, since his name was never mentioned in Identity and neither is Jarda's in Supremacy, but they are played by two different actors.
At the end, Abbott appears before a Senate hearing closing down Treadstone and introducing Blackbriar to take its place. But Blackbriar never gets mentioned throughout Supremacy, before Ultimatum gets constructed around Jason finding out about it and fighting it himself.
Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The reason for Bourne's botched mission that led to his amnesia. After having his gun trained point-blank on Wombosi's head, he sees Wombosi's children in his lap and sleeping about the room and aborts the mission at that point, leading to his shooting and subsequent fall from the yacht.
He also becomes very protective of Eammon's kids rather quickly, keeping watch at night because he was worried about them. When he realises he has been tracked to the house and Marie says, "If anything happens to those kids..." Bourne immediately replies with, "That's not going to happen."
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Supremacy provides examples of:
Badass Normal: Kirill, despite being a FSB operative without the same training and brainwashing Treadstone agents have undergone, is more than a match for Bourne.
Berlin: One of the primary settings of the second movie.
Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Abbott tries to pin the Berlin assassination and the money theft on Conklin, who'd died in Identity, and Bourne, who was to be killed before the CIA could find him.
Have You Told Anyone Else?: Danny Zorn preemptively fulfills this trope by explaining to his soon-to-be murderer Ward Abbott that he has yet to share the damaging information he's found.
Improv Fu: Jason Bourne can beat the shit out of you with a rolled up newspaper and blow up a condo with it when he's done killing you. It should be noted that this example isn't theoretical or exaggerated; it's something Bourne actually does.
Precision F-Strike: Bourne himself delivers a powerful one at the end of an intense interrogation he uses on Nicky Parsons. Considering how calm and stoic Bourne usually is in the second and third movies, it really signifies his emotional turmoil and hate for the CIA after losing Marie, the one person he came to really care for, all because Ward Abbott refused to leave him alone and sent an assassin to take him down, but ended up killing her instead by accident.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The whole movie, albeit so cold and machine-like it seems he's lost his humanity until he refuses to kill Ward Abbott and again when he speaks to Irina Neski.
Nicky: Working with you was... difficult for me. (Beat) You really don't remember anything, do you?
Being Tortured Makes You Evil: During the movie, we get glimpses of the induction process Treadstone (and presumably Blackbriar) agents undergo. Specifically, Jason is told to murder a man, sitting in a room with a bag over his head, and every time he refused Jason had a bag put on his head and he was severely punished, vis-à-vis solitary confinement and waterboarding among other methods, until he finally broke and killed him. To twist the knife further it seems that Jason, who volunteered, initially seemed to think the test was to not kill the man, given how soldier-like he took the orders.
The Bourne Ultimatum ends with Jason Bourne being shot in the back, falling into water, and being lost and presumed dead by his pursuers. This directly mirrors the events preceding the first film, where we first see Bourne being rescued from the ocean, having been shot in the back and left for dead by Wombosi and his men.
Also, Ultimatum ends with Landy closing off the events of the film in a government committee, in a nigh identical fashion to how it's done in the first.
Kansas City Shuffle: Bourne's bait-and-switch ploy to get the information on the Blackbriar project.
Karma Houdini: The asset who kills Simon Ross. He escapes, but returns in New York to kill Bourne. Jason beats him and has him at gunpoint, but decided not to shoot.
Mook-Face Turn: Paz just before the end of the movie. He has Bourne at gunpoint, distraught about Jason's decision to spare him earlier. Jason's Call Back to the Professor ("Look at what they made you give.") leads to Paz lowering his gun and letting Bourne go.
Mythology Gag: One of the "terminated" victims' files from Vosen's safe has a picture of Richard Chamberlain, who played Jason Bourne in the 1988 adaptation of The Bourne Identity.
At the very end of the film. This is how Nicky knows that Bourne is still alive.
Subverted earlier in the movie. Bourne is able to kill Desh before he can kill him or Nicky, and tells Nicky to report that they are dead. Vosen then sends men to find their bodies and confirm it.
Oh Crap: Vosen has two moments: when he realizes that Bourne is in Vosen's office, and that Landy has faxed away all of the Blackbriar files.
He has one earlier when Bourne gets himself caught on-camera helping Simon Ross:
Jesus Christ. That's Jason Bourne.
Product Placement: Among others are Norton Antivirus, Guardian newspaper, Motorola and Nokia phones, Mercedes and Volkswagen cars.
Soft Water: at the end of the film, Bourne survives falling from a 10 story building into water after possibly being shot. He was shown floating lifelessly for a few seconds, however, indicating he was stunned.
Super Window Jump: The very end of the movie - in a variation, Bourne jumps off the roof.
The End of the Beginning: At the end of Ultimatum, Jason Bourne is no more, and David Webb has more or less taken his place
Trail of Bread Crumbs: when Nicky Parsons sees Desh coming to assassinate her, she immediately grabs her phone and disassembles it while making her escape into a crowded market street, throwing the separate pieces onto the ground as a trail for Jason, who is about a minute behind them, to follow.
Action Survivor: Marta. She may be The Load initially, but she's considerably better at surviving and helping out than the typical action movie love interest, and chooses to stay by Aaron's side despite opportunities to get away safely.
Adorkable: The brainwashed scientist has one scene before he gets brainwashed, in which he asks Marta for approval on a study and she agrees. His giddy reaction to said approval helps demonstrate just how robotic the brainwashing has made him.
Applied Phlebotinum: The blue and green pills, or "chems", which serve to increase the subject's intelligence and strength. Also enables the CIA to maintain a hold on their agents: if not taken on a regular basis, the enhancements will stop working.
Asshole Victim: If it's possible for an animal to be this, it's the wolf that is pursuing Aaron relentlessly. For its trouble, it gets caught in a snare, then force-fed his homing beacon so it gets blown up by a predator drone. "You should have left me alone," remarks Aaron.
Banister Slide: Aaron Cross does this on a motorcycle during the final chase scene, because the stairway is blocked by pedestrians.
Bittersweet Ending: Despite Aaron and Shearing managing to escape the CIA's reach, the ending implies that Landy will be used as a scapegoat for Treadstone and Blackbriar while the actual villains get away clean to try again.
Brainwashed and Crazy: When Operation Blackbriar and the Treadstone Project is exposed to the public, Byer engineers the deaths of the Outcome scientists by chemically brainwashing one of them into killing the rest of his colleagues and commit suicide. However, they didn't account for the one survivor. The implacable Larx agent, Larx-03, could also count as this.
Shearing implies that the stuff she was working with involved the capacity for brainwashing at a chemical level, tied in with the education and training of new agents. Exactly how this works is not explained, but it could be implied that it allows brainwashing at an accelerated level than a more normal way.
Can't Stop The Signal: Aaron tells Marta that if she leaves him, her only chance for survival is to go public.
Aaron: But you better ask yourself this: Could you ever say it loud enough, fast enough, that they'd leave you alone?
When Byer and his investigators were first going through the CIA investigations files at the start of the movie, the camera sweeps over the file names - Treadstone, Blackbriar, Outcome, and a forth yet unmentioned in the series program called LARX. It would soon be revealed that this is the newest and most advanced offshoot of all four programs.
Aaron swipes a gold watch off the factory manager at the Manila manufacturing plant. This is used to pay off a boat captain later.
Clock King: Aaron seems like a heroic version of one, specially while rescuing Dr. Shearing.
Crazy-Prepared: In a deleted scene, when making the trip to Maryland Aaron is pulled over by a cop suspiciously (he was going the proper speed limit). The cop started asking him specific questions and Aaron had a detailed response about being a divorcee going to see his kid play in a soccer game. When asked to look at his trunk he had a variety of sporting equipment.
When he knocks out the plant supervisor in Manila, Aaron makes sure to steal his watch so he can use it to bribe another man in the future.
Darker and Edgier: this is by far the darkest entry in Bourne universe. Unlike Jason Bourne, Cross and Shearing are complete innocents who never intend to get out, let alone expose the project, and yet they are marked for death anyway.
Establishing Character Moment: Weisz's character, Dr. Shearing, manages to escape a shooting in her lab by hiding herself in a cold storage room (with very thick walls and glass) and kept the door sealed by wrapping her jacket around the inside plunger to prevent the latch from opening. This resulted in her being the only survivor and shows she won't be The Load even though she can't match anyone on a physical level.
When we first see Dr Shearing, she is on first name terms with security guards, on great terms with her co-workers... and barely looks at 6, the guy she's about to perform intensive medical checks on. It's a pretty graphic example of how depersonalised the experimental subjects are to her.
The first 20 minutes of the film shows Aaron navigating the Alaskan wilderness with unflinching focus, but it isn't until he shoots down the attack drone trying to kill him that you see just how good he is. This is commented upon by the guys controlling it. "What kind of weapons system is he using?" "He's probably got a rifle." (blank stare) "It's a high-powered rifle."
Fake Static: Aaron rubs the radio on his sleeve while giving a "status update" to the final member of a hit squad sent after Marta, using the distorted sound and his knowledge of radio protocols to pretend to be the dead guy he took the radio off of, so nobody will realize anything's gone wrong until after he and Marta are gone.
Faking the Dead: It was revealed that Aaron's original identity was presumed killed in Iraq; he survived with significant injuries and was presumably placed into the Outcome program soon after.
Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: Cross stated his IQ was 12 points below the Army recruitment minimum; when given the intelligence enhancing pills it made the threat of losing those enhancements significantly more scary for him.
IKEA Weaponry: Aaron continuously assembles and disassembles his Nemesis Arms Vanquish rifle throughout his trek across Alaska.
Implacable Man: The LARX agent could give The Terminator a run for his money. Car crash? Gets out, hijacks a motorcycle and continues. Getting shot twice then a bad motorcycle wreck? Gets right back up and keeps coming. It takes being forced to crash head on into a concrete pillar at top speed to finally kill him. On top of that, he's neurochemically programmed to be absolutely remorseless and have zero empathy, and he noticeably is far more ruthless than any previous agent.
Irony: Cross using Filipino Martial Arts to beat up non-martial artsy Filipino security guards and police officers.
Improvised Weapon: A Bourne staple; Cross rigs what is effectively a nail gun with an air piston and a fire extinguisher.
It Works Better with Bullets: Marta, still understandably freaked out by the whole attempted murder thing, tries to shoot Cross when he first tries to gain her trust. Cross then points out she emptied her gun during her first escape.
Make It Look Like an Accident: The Outcome agents are poisoned so their deaths appear from natural causes. The scientists are killed by a colleague going crazy in yet another workplace shooting incident, with the Sole Survivor meant to have committed suicide. A news report mentions that Hersh died of a 'heart attack' while under protective custody before he had a chance to testify. Only the two Outcome agents miles from civilization are slated to be killed directly.
Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: The superhuman projects in the Bourne universe are controlled by a conspiracy involving rogue spy chiefs, pharmaceutical executives, and defense contractors.
Necessary Evil: Byer describes both himself and Cross as this in a flashback, explaining to the latter that it's their job to do these distasteful things so everyone else can keep their hands clean.
For The Bourne Legacy trailer, their editing indicated that Aaron Cross was superior to Jason Bourne, calling him "Treadstone without the inconsistency". The Film shows that it was actually referring to a new Treadstone offshoot that was active without most people knowing about it. They called it "Outcome without the emotions".
The TV spot has Aaron cross muttering "You should have left me alone," to a handphone on the plane, hinting that he made contact with Eric Byer. In the film Byer wasn't even aware that Aaron Cross was alive and helping Dr. Shearing until the pair reached Manila.
Don't trust the poster, either. Joan Allen and Albert Finney get their name on the poster in big letters. Pamela Landy is in only one scene and Albert Finney is only briefly shown in a Youtube video for less than a minute.
The scene in the trailers of Marta screaming for Aaron when she's cornered in a narrow alley and being promptly rescued is misleadingly cut from two different scenes: one where she screams for him to run, endangering herself to give him a chance to get away, and another several minutes later when she is cornered and about to surrender, only for Aaron to jump down to rescue her.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Landy, who spent all of Supremacy and Ultimatum trying to expose the corruption within the CIA and simply trying to do the right thing, is rewarded with becoming the scapegoat for said corruption within the CIA.
Not That Kind of Doctor: Shearing's doctorate is in biochemistry. However, biochemistry is a major component of medicine, so she isn't completely ignorant about what medications and whatnot Aaron might need.
Oh Crap: Byer has a big one when his team finally manages to identify the mystery person helping Shearing escape their view, the Outcome agent (Aaron) they thought they had just killed.
The Oner: Cross crawls out from a basement window, smoothly climbs three stories on the side of a house and enters an upstairs window to shoot a person climbing the stairs. All in one take.
There's a Lens Flare as he climbs onto the roof, presumably covering for a cut.
P.O.V. Sequel: It takes place at the same time as the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, even showing some of the same news broadcasts.
Practically enforced, a Deleted Scene showed that all Outcome Agents showed signs of paranoia, including stockpiling their chems in case they need to go off the grid. Aaron's behavior wasn't unusual and ultimately vital to his survival.
Byer, too. His methods may be brutal to the point of monstrous, but he accurately predicted that the CIA would lose control of the situation and planned accordingly.
The Purge: When Bourne's story really starts heating up, all Treadstone/Blackbriar operatives are killed systematically and Aaron barely survived an air strike against the remote outpost he was at.
Reassigned to Antarctica: The other Outcome agent in Alaska is implied to have screwed up somehow, thus why he's doing the job as opposed to a normal employee.
Roof Hopping: Aaron Cross engages in an entire chase scene over the roofs in Manila.
Savage Wolves: A pack of wolves constantly harass Aaron during his training in the snowy mountain region. The pack leader even tries to take him head on when he's on the run from the flying drone trying to kill him. It's hinted by the other agent that the wolves attack him because he's no longer human.
The Scapegoat: Pamela Landy is shown to be taking the heat for Jason Bourne still being at large, deemed as guilty of treason for aiding and abetting a wanted felon.
Sequel Hook: The senate hearing Bourne got going in Ultimatum isn't going well for Landy, and there is a new program already in play that very few are aware of.
Sequel Reset: The senate hearing from the end of Ultimatum isn't going well, Pamela Landy is the scapegoat and more projects spawning even more extreme agents and methods to use on the agents are going on with barely anyone the wiser.
Super Soldier: Put on full display for this film, as the Treadstone-style agents, which include Blackbriar, Outcome and LARX, were actually chemically enhanced to be faster, stronger and smarter than average humans. Byer has a discussion with a military general over the positive effects of fielding these precise agents into places that normal people would not survive in. Behind the scenes they even refer to the individuals as super soldiers.
Surrounded by Idiots: When one of his underlings mentions LARX as a solution to the Cross problem, when until now the LARX program was believed to be in the concept stages, Byer gives him a look that just screams "are you kidding me?" Even worse, the guy doesn't take the hint and just keeps talking, forcing Byer to admit that the program's already running.
Token Romance: It's actually left rather subtle. There is a growing appreciation between Cross and Shearing and they sometimes engage in affectionate mannerisms with each other (Cross grasps her hand when she injects him with the retrovirus, Shearing holds him when he is suffering from the symptoms of that virus) but by the end it is left vague if they are going to actually pursue a relationship.
Tracking Device: All Outcome agents have one planted into their body, which is regulated by body temperature. The Big Bad uses it to kill one agent with a drone strike. Aaron manages to escape by extracting his and planting it on a wolf.
Trailers Always Spoil: For The Bourne Legacy, those who watched the trailer would already know that Marta's friendly lab colleague would be shooting at her ten minutes later. Also, as soon as the various Outcome operatives showed up, trailers already showed them to be dead agents walking.
The Unfought: Unlike the previous films, where Bourne ended up confronting at least some of his pursuers, there is only one scene featuring both Cross and Byer, and it's in a flashback where Byer lectures him on being a Necessary Evil. In the present, it's debatable if Cross is even aware Byer is the one running the show.
Wham Line: The revelation of LARX, the newest Treadstone-style incarnation, hidden from the current media hooplah and so secretive even those who know all about Treadstone and Blackbriar didn't know they had active agents already.
Worf Had The Flu: Done almost literally. Aaron is injected with a virus designed to permanently keep his mental acuity without the need for blue pills, but he is suffering the effects of the virus for the rest of the film. The worst of it passes by overnight, but he's clearly suffering from more than a gunshot wound near the end of the chase.
Worst Aid: The agency therapist visiting Marta after the shootout was horrible at her job, first implying that she might have survivors guilt because Marta had been spared (she very nearly wasn't), then eventually resorting to screaming at Dr Shearing to make her sit down. Justified, because she's just trying to distract Marta long enough for her partner to find Marta's gun so they can kill her and make it look like a suicide.
You Are Number Six: The Scientists in charge sees the outcome agents as only numbers. Dr Shearing had known Aaron Cross for four years as only "five". He doesn't take this well.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once the supersoldier projects leak out to the media, the project supervisors decide to wipe out all scientists and soldiers involved to prevent them from being witness.