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Film / Jason Bourne

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"You've tortured yourself for a long time now, Jason. You torture yourself for what you've done. But you don't know the truth about what they did to you."
Nicolette "Nicky" Parsons

Jason Bourne is a Conspiracy Thriller directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Matt Damon as the eponymous ex-intelligence operative, Jason Bourne, released on July 29th, 2016. It marks the fifth film in Universal's The Bourne Series, as well as being a sequel to two films: The Bourne Ultimatum, and The Bourne Legacy. Julia Stiles reprises her role of Nicky Parsons and newcomers include Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassel.

Years after regaining his memory and shutting down the program which created him in The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason has gone into retirement, trying to live quietly in the shadows. But when former handler and collaborator Nicky Parsons asks for Jason's help to find out about a new program known as "Iron Hand", Bourne finds himself drawn back again into a world of deception and intrigue, where his past still haunts him.

Previews: Super Bowl TV spot, Trailer (preview 1, preview 2, preview 3, preview 4, preview 5, preview 6).

Jason Bourne contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The film's plot is kicked off with Nicky stealing CIA black ops files for hacker Christian Dassault, who Bourne meets in Berlin. After Heather manages to delete the files Dassault and that plot thread are dropped entirely, focusing on Bourne's You Killed My Father plot.
  • Actor Allusion: Tommy Lee Jones stars as an authority figure in a secretive government agency who's hunting down a wanted fugitive. He also plays an evil figure in the CIA, just as he did in Under Siege where coincidentally, he was a rogue CIA operative.
  • Artistic License – Cars - As is generally the case with a chase scene, but a pretty egregious one that makes the chase scene possible: the Bearcat 454 that the Asset is driving is built like a tank on wheels, but has nowhere near the top speed of Bourne's peppy sports car. Bourne would've been able to outspeed and outmaneuver him while still only in third gear.note 
  • Ascended Extra: The Asset is far more developed, and gets far more lines, than any of the previous Treadstone/Blackbriar assets. Ironically, he never gets a name unlike some earlier Assets, just being called 'The Asset'.
  • Asshole Victim: Dewey and the Asset, seeing as they actively murder their own people just to get one step closer to taking down Bourne. At the end, they get what they deserve. While at it, Bourne also warns Lee that she'll end up this way if she tries to come after him.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: During a hand-to-hand struggle, Bourne and the Asset both attack the injuries their opponent received earlier.
  • Bad Boss: Dewey is more than happy to let the Asset kill several of his own agents so he can sabotage Heather's plan to bring Jason in alive. For comparison, not even Vosen went that far in Ultimatum.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Dewey's plans hinge on this. When he learns about Nicky's hack, he counts on her leading them to Bourne. When he figures out they're going to be meeting at a protest in Greece, he takes advantage to have the Asset kill Bourne. When Heather tries to talk Bourne into surrendering, he has the Asset murder all of Heather's agents, knowing Bourne wouldn't do it anyway. When his partner tries to blab on him, he has the Asset try to murder him and Heather. He also knew Bourne would come for him, and if it wasn't for Heather, Bourne would have been killed.
    • Heather's plans to replace Dewey as DCI also hinge on this. When reviewing Bourne's psych profile, she finds that Bourne can be manipulated once he's reached his tipping point, which he has when Nicky's dead. From that point on she attempts to bring him in alive, even assisting him in infiltrating Dewey's hotel in Vegas, knowing that if Bourne kills Dewey, the DCI seat will be empty, and Bourne will be indebted to her.
  • Big Bad: CIA Director Robert Dewey.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Heather saving Bourne from Dewey.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: "Iron Hand" is revealed to be a plan for the CIA to have real time monitoring of everything people are doing using the wildly popular (1.6 billion users) Deep Dream apps and operating systems.
  • Breaking Speech: Dewey gives one to Bourne in an attempt to stall for time, and it works, as Bourne listens long enough for agents to save Dewey.
  • Call-Back: As with Ultimatum, a CIA operative connected to the founding of Treadstone is killed via car bomb while an asset watches from nearby.
    • As with Supremacy and especially Ultimatum, Heather Lee, a female CIA officer leading the hunt for Bourne, figures out something is fishy with her superiors and ends up on Bourne's side, much like Pamela Landy before her.
    • The chase sequence in Athens culminating in Nicky's death is very reminiscent of the chase sequence at the start of Supremacy which culminated in Marie's death.
  • Car Fu: The entire chase scene in the climax. Holy hell.
  • Chase Scene: It wouldn't be a Bourne film without it. Jason gets chased and chases others on motorcycles, in a SWAT van, and more over the course of the movie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Both Heather's gun stashed away at the start of the third act, and the recording device Jason picks up at the tech convention.
  • Co-Dragons: The Asset serves as Dewey's chief agent, and CIA agent Craig Jeffers serves as Dewey's right-hand man.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Bourne's back has two bullet wound scars, the ones he picked up in Identity, plus his chest has one from Supremacy. The lack of a fourth answers the lingering question of whether or not Vosen was able to shoot him at the end of Ultimatum.
    • Bourne's exposure of the Blackbriar program in Ultimatum is mentioned twice and is even a plot point given that the Asset has a personal vendetta against Bourne because his cover was blown due to the latter's actions - though that's possibly a lie Dewey came up with to justify the Asset's desire to finish the job he started with Bourne's father, Richard Webb.
    • Being roughly a decade later from the earlier films, a list shows all Treadstone-offshoot programs that had been developed, including Blackbriar from Ultimatum and Outcome and Larx from Legacy.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The conflict between Bourne and the Asset.
  • Darker and Edgier: Surpassing the events of Legacy. Even by the standards of the series, this film is the darkest of them all. Robert Dewey and the Asset are easily the most villainous characters of the series. Between the way they casually murder their own people, the death of Bourne's most trusted ally, and the portrayal of institutionalized corruption in the American government and society, there are virtually no bright sides to the story. Of course, the kicker of it all is the last two scenes of the movie, where it's revealed that Heather Lee is much less benevolent than Pamela Landy before her and is not an ally at all, just another power-hungry bureaucrat intending to use Bourne as her pawn and willing to kill him if he refuses, and that Bourne rightly distrusts her.
  • Dead Star Walking: Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons.
  • Dragon Their Feet: After Dewey is killed by Heather, Bourne still spends ten minutes chasing down and then killing the Asset. Though considering the man killed his father, this is very understandable.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The Asset, to Dewey.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: The Asset personally wants Bourne because of his leak of Blackbriar.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Both the Asset and Bourne are suffering from gunshot wounds and just survived a car crash when they face off.
  • Deuteragonist: Heather and the Asset have their own arcs alongside Bourne.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: It's elaborated on that David Webb wasn't just an Army captain, he was a part of Delta Force.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Jason's father started Treadstone, but when he found out Dewey intended to put his son into it, he tried to shut it down and expose it. This led to Dewey having the Asset kill him to keep it secret.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Bourne's psyche profile suggests he could be convinced to return to the program if he were pushed to the breaking point. Dewey isn't convinced, though he tries during the final confrontation, while Heather puts more effort into it. Dewey fails because he ordered the death of Bourne's father, and Heather fails because Bourne listened in on her conversation with Russell, which made it clear she was little better than Dewey.
  • False Flag Operation: On a small scale, Richard Webb's assassination was one. In addition to getting rid of a potential whistleblower, his death, by being attributed to terrorists, served to motivate his son David to join Treadstone.
  • Fight Clubbing: What Bourne has been up to while in hiding.
  • Fire Alarm Distraction: At one point, the ever-resourceful Bourne floods a plaza with office workers by simultaneously setting off fire alarms in every building around the district.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Bourne interrogates Malcolm Smith about his father's death, there's a clever bit of foreshadowing which approaches One Dialogue, Two Conversations.
    Bourne: Where is [my father's killer]?
    Dewey: He's almost there.
    [A few moments later, The Asset enters.]
  • Front Line General: Played With with Dewey. He's a Non-Action Big Bad, but he is still the head of the CIA, and personally oversees Iron Hand and whatever current incarnation Treadstone/Blackbriar is in. Previous people who handled that, such as Abbot or Vosen, were deputy directors. Dewey's predecessor, Ezra Kramer, was simply The Man Behind the Man.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Due to his role in the death of Jason's father, Dewey is indirectly responsible for the events of the entire film series.
  • Government Conspiracy: Iron Hand, a plot by the CIA to build a backdoor into a popular social media platform, letting them effortlessly observe and monitor everyone who uses it.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: At the end, Heather Lee, who had seemingly been acting like a Big Good for the CIA, makes her power play to become Director following Dewey's death. When Bourne leaves the recording device in her car, indicating he heard her statement to the Director of Intelligence that she'll kill him if she can't bring him in, it leaves it open ended as to whether she'll become a future antagonist or back off due to the threat.
  • The Heavy: The Asset.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • Dewey ordered Jason's father killed when he tried to expose Treadstone, and later tries to have Jason killed as well.
    • Dewey tries to assassinate Aaron Kalloor after Kalloor is spooked by the theft of the Iron Hand files, and tries to go public himself before his reputation is ruined.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Jason once again steals a random person's motorcycle during a chase scene. In this case, it belongs to a Greek police officer.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Dewey clearly has no qualms resorting to brutal murder of allies who displease him or if it suits his purpose and many of his actions result in needless death, just like the terrorists he claims he is protecting the public from.
  • Hope Spot: Just when it looks like Bourne and Nicky are going to escape together from Greece, the Asset murders her.
  • Idiot Ball: Bourne has a massive moment with the ball when he corners Dewey in his suite. Dewey is alone and unarmed and Bourne has to know agents are on their way. Instead of shooting Dewey, he is foolish enough to listen. If it hadn't been for Heather, he would have been killed for his decision. Dewey himself lampshades this when Bourne doesn't immediately kill him, yet Bourne still allows it to happen.
    • After realizing that she will be killed unless she goes underground, in The Bourne Ultimatum, Nicky cut and dyed her hair to make herself harder to find. Come this installment, she has grown her hair back out and let it return to natural colors, which makes it very easy for the government to find her. And she does get killed for it.
  • Improbable Age: Unless Alicia Vikander's character is older than she is, the audience is being forced to believe that a 27-year-old could be the head of cyber-security in the CIA. Her demands to Russell to be put in charge of the CIA at the end of the film highlight this.
  • Improbable Weapon User: A long-standing tradition, at one point during his final confrontation with The Asset, Bourne grabs a saucepan off the ground and fights with it.
    • For his part, the Asset uses what looks like a random piece of cord. And also a SWAT van.
    • Bourne also snaps the leg off a chair during his brief fight with Dassault
  • Inherent in the System: The movie suggests that gaining power within the CIA is pretty much guaranteed to require already ruthless, morally bankrupt people; or to possibly turn decent people into that, as evidenced with Lee at the end.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Goes both ways with the Asset. The Asset supposedly hates Bourne because Bourne's outing of Blackbriar got him captured and tortured in Syria for two years before he was finally extracted. Bourne in turn learns that it was the Asset who killed Bourne's father.
  • I Was Never Here: Or as Bourne says to Heather, "You were never here."
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Bourne shoots Malcolm Smith in the leg when he refuses to talk about spying on him, then holds him off the edge of a building while threatening to shoot him in the head. Despite Dewey also threatening his family over an earpiece, Smith caves to Bourne's demands.
  • Jitter Cam: It's a Paul Greengrass movie.
  • Klingon Promotion: Heather helps Bourne take down Dewey (and finishes him off) so that she can then convince the Director of National Intelligence to give her his job.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Dewey turns up the seriousness of the film, and while the Asset does most of the heavy lifting, he is operating under Dewey's command. The fact that Dewey is responsible for the events of the series also turns up the seriousness.
    • The Asset himself is a far more villainous than other henchmen Bourne took down in previous films; he cold-bloodedly murders multiple civilians and even CIA officers who stand in his way to do Dewey's dirty work.
  • Knight Templar: Dewey, oh boy. He is all too happy to brainwash someone into a ruthless assassin, against their will. When the person who started the program tries to blab, Dewey has him killed. When Jason Bourne returns, Dewey orders his execution and the execution of several of his agents just to get Bourne. When Bourne confronts him about it, he coldly brushes it off as "People are safer because of what you did", not having a care in the world.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: When the Asset corners Bourne and Smith on the roof, Bourne uses Smith as a bullet shield and then escapes. A hero who does that is either an Anti Hero or a Sociopathic Hero, except that Smith was monitoring a child and later participated in the murder of said child's father to drive him into a very illegal program, and likely did this to other children. Either way, no one is really too upset at Bourne's stunt with him.
  • Leitmotif: The first few bars of "Extreme Ways" by Moby are once again associated with Bourne.
  • Long-Runner Tech Marches On: Technologies have subtly evolved since 2004. Being set in 2016, the film features recent smartphones with mobile apps, and a subplot involving a social media mogul.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Sort of. Russell is the Director of National Intelligence, essentially Dewey's boss, although not his manipulator. Dewey, on the other hand, is the real character of this.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Dewey manages to manipulate the events of the film like a string.
    • Implied with Heather Lee, whose website interview and her turning on Dewey makes it seem like the CIA might finally be getting a principled higher-up, but at the end she makes her power play to seize control of the Agency and may ultimately be as bad as Dewey down the road.
  • Mandatory Unretirement: Bourne, after spending years trying to not be in the intelligence game, gets talked into doing it again by Nicky Parsons.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Bourne throws one on the ground during a protest rally to force a CIA team trailing him to detour, which allows him to ambush them.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When Nicky is going over the hacked CIA files, Outcome and LARX are both listed.
    • David Webb joining Treadstone because he believed his father was killed by terrorists is similar to his backstory in the original novels where the death of his wife and two children during the Vietnam War led him into the world of covert ops.
    • Furthermore, an Emerald Lake is shown among the CIA projects. In the original novels, Operation Silverlake was the predecessor to Treadstone.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers make it look like the CIA only become aware of Nicky working with Bourne again when they meet up in Greece. In the actual movie, they go after her expecting her to lead them to Bourne.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Aaron Kalloor is a very clear Expy for Mark Zuckerberg.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Although Legacy touches on it somewhat, this film shows the fallout of Bourne and Landy exposing Blackbriar. Namely, many operatives had their cover blown and were compromised, including The Asset.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The final battle between Bourne and the Asset is quite possibly the most brutal fight in the entire Bourne series.
  • No Name Given: The assassin known only as "the Asset". Similarly, while Iron Hand refers to the not-active Sinister Surveillance plan for Deep Dream, whatever the current assassination program that the Asset is a part of is not named. All we're told is that it's not Blackbriar any more.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Dewey is in no physical shape to fight, usually having the Asset do his actions. That doesn't make him any less dangerous, and he constantly manages to stay a step ahead of Bourne.
  • Noodle Incident:
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Dewey may not be a physical threat, but he is the head of the CIA and this gives him a massive amount of men and money. He used this to have Bourne's father killed, and arranges for the death of several characters. He is also an expert smooth talker, capable of getting Jason to stand down, and is the closest any villain in the series comes to killing Bourne.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Aaron Kalloor tries to call off his deal with Dewey when he sees he's going further than he expected.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: This is the first Bourne film not using the Mad Lib Thriller Title scheme The Bourne [X].
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • "Jesus Christ, that's Jason Bourne."
    • Also, at the end where Lee finds out that Bourne knows her little scheme all along.
  • Once an Episode: Played with. As with past films, there's still a car chase and a fight with another CIA assassin, but instead of the assassin fight being in the middle of the film, it's in the climax. And this time the assassin is chased by Bourne.
  • One-Hit KO: Bourne is shown knocking an opponent out in a single hit during an illegal fight.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Bourne kills only when he absolutely must - more often than not he simply leaves the scene after incapacitating his pursuers. In this movie, however, he goes out of his way to hunt, chase, and kill the Asset even after the main villain is dead. Considering the Asset is responsible for the murders of his father and his friend, not to mention the deaths of multiple civilian bystanders, he has a very good reason to seek revenge on the Asset.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Alicia Vikander's Swedish accent slips out frequently as she plays American Heather Lee.
  • Perma-Stubble: Before being recruited by Parsons, Jason can be seen with a constant five-o'clock shadow on his face.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Heather Lee spends the entire film wearing what can best be described as an intense scowl. She keeps the same expression even when apologising to Dewey for going over his head or booking into a hotel.
  • Police Are Useless: While the police have been depicted as obstacles to Bourne in the previous movies, it was more because Bourne is a fugitive hiding from the CIA. In this movie, Bourne is able to go from Athens to Berlin, and it becomes obvious he did not fly, and he is on Interpol, so the police on all those countries dropped it. Then he is somehow able to get from Berlin to London and no one discovered his identity. While the border security in the U.S. were ordered by Lee to stand down and let him in, the guards first reaction when Bourne shoots at the Asset is to chase Bourne, even though he stopped the assassination. During the chase scene, they still primarily go after Bourne, even though the Asset is killing civilians with their own SWAT van.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Nicky tosses a Zippo on some stuff to burn it all up.
  • The Reveal: Bourne discovers the true reason why he volunteered to join Treadstone in the first place: his father was killed in a car bomb, staged as an attack by terrorists. Which leads to another reveal, that Bourne's father was the founder of Treadstone, and he was killed because he was going to shut it down.
    Bourne: I volunteered because I thought our enemies killed him. I volunteered because of a lie!
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The film features contemporary events such as the European financial crisis (through the anti-austerity demonstrations in Greece) and much of its plot is inspired by the Edward Snowden leaks regarding illegal government surveillance.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Heather sides with Jason when she realizes just how amoral Dewey is, especially when he tries to have her killed. Though she had her own agenda the whole time.
  • Sequel Escalation: Matt Damon considers this Bourne movie to be even bigger than the first four Bourne movies.
  • Sequel Hook: Even though Dewey is dead, Heather is set to replace him, and Iron Hand is still viable. Also, Bourne is now in D.C.—or at least for the time being until he pops up somewhere else.
  • Spoiler Cover: The film's release poster gives away the fact that Heather Lee ends up on Bourne's side.
  • The Stoic: Bourne is very stoic throughout the movie except when interrogating a man about his father and, very briefly, when Nicky dies right in front of him.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Nicky Parsons bites the bullet during the chase in Greece, courtesy of the Asset.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Bourne and Nicky fail to escape the Asset's ambush in Athens because the CIA knows what route they're going to take. Badass as they are, they're still fighting the entire might of the U.S. government, and for once in the series, they actually had prep time.
    • Bourne is noticeably slower in this film, due to his age and the injuries he's taken as an underground fighter.
    • You know what happens when a murderous assassin such as the Asset takes control of an armoured SWAT truck? Bystanders die. Even Bourne is unable to put a stop to his driving rampage.
    • Bourne's exposing of Blackbriar results in operatives having their cover blown, which was what happened to the Asset in the past.
      Dewey: The last time Bourne came back he exposed the Blackbriar program. It compromised active operations. The asset was in Syria, under cover. He was captured, tortured. And took two damn years to get him out.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: DCI Robert Dewey for Ezra Kramer. It falls into Remember the New Guy? when characters seem to imply that Dewey was present and active during the events of the previous films, even though we've never heard of or seen him.
  • Tagline: "You Know His Name."
  • "They Still Belong to Us" Lecture: Though Heather originally suggests the idea, it's Dewey who makes this speech in the Las Vegas hotel room, saying that he will always be Bourne and not Webb.
  • Time Skip: Relatively speaking, as both The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Legacy were set concurrently with The Bourne Supremacy. It's less that there is a Time Skip and more that the timeline is advanced to match the present day.
  • The Unfettered:
    • Dewey most certainly. He has zero problems in ordering people who don't agree with him murdered. When Bourne demands to know why, he states "People are safer because of what you did," indicating he has no remorse for his illegal actions.
    • The Asset cold-bloodedly kills everyone, literally everyone who stands in his path to do Dewey's dirty bidding.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As ambitious as Heather can be and despite how much she just wants to keep advancing, she legit believes that doing so will help "make a difference".
  • Wham Shot: In Bourne's flashbacks, during the car-bombing of his father, Bourne sees a black car depart with the driver's face blurred, hinting at the real perpetrator of the incident. But when the scene is repeated later on, with Bourne remembering more of this moment, the driver's face in the flashback clarifies to reveal the Asset.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The plot points of The Bourne Legacy are not directly followed upon in this film, and most notably nothing is said about the fates of Pamela Landy, Noah Vosen, and Ezra Kramer. Granted, there's a 12 years Time Skip between the events of this film and those of Ultimatum and Legacy, meaning a lot might have happened with zero relevance regarding the 2016 film's plot. The film does note that there are additional Treadstone-inspired assassination programs that continued after Bourne exposed Blackbriar, with "Outcome" and "Larx" (post Blackbriar programs brought up in Legacy) included in the list Nicky Parsons hacks at the beginning.
  • Worf Had the Flu: The only reason the Asset lasts as long as he does in his ultimate fight with Bourne is that Bourne has gotten shot a few scenes back. If you look at it closely, most of the scene consists of Bourne overwhelming the Asset big time.
  • You Killed My Father: The Asset killed Bourne's father, on orders from Dewey.

"You're never going to find any peace. Not till you admit to yourself who you really are."

Alternative Title(s): Jason Bourne 2016