Jason Bourne – everything you need to know


by Phil de Semlyen |
Published on

Director: Paul Greengrass

Screenwriters: Christopher Rouse, Matt Damon, Paul Greengrass

Cast: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd

UK release date: July 29, 2016


If Jason Bourne thought he was through the worst Blackbriar, Treadstone and all those other top-secret ops that sound strangely like brands of tyre could throw at him, he’s mistaken. Jason Bourne sees cinema's deadliest amnesiac (just ahead of Dory) faced with more implacably nasty adversaries. But the geopolitical landscape has changed since he first fished himself out of the Mediterranean in 2002. Instead of post-9/11 paranoia, he’s now a player in a world complicated by cyber warfare, hacking, surveillance and ugly economic recessions. There are riots on the streets, Edward Snowden in hiding, and drones patrol the skies. Dark days, in other words.

Bourne genesis

Nearly a decade and one ill-starred spinoff, The Bourne Legacy, have passed since The Bourne Ultimatum. Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon have been questioned regularly about a fourth Jason Bourne outing since 2007, neither committing to it nor flat-out rejecting the idea. Tensions between the pair and long-term Bourne screenwriter Tony Gilroy boiled over when Gilroy’s Bourne Legacy got underway. Gilroy’s Bourne Ultimatum had been “unreadable”, railed Damon in an unusually outspoken GQ interview. “He was having a go, basically, and he took his money and left.” Gilroy, who downplayed the comments, recruited Jeremy Renner for an franchise expansion that was careful to keep Jason Bourne out of the story but show that he’s still out there in the world…

Damon and Greengrass on the set of The Bourne Ultimatum.

Then it got really complicated. Around the time Fast Five’s Justin Lin was hired by Universal for a Legacy sequel, the idea of a third Greengrass/Damon Jason Bourne movie resurfaced. Would Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross be fighting? Teaming up? Hugging it out? It seemed like there wouldn’t be enough room in the world for the pair of them, and so it proved. Bourne Legacy 2 was pushed back and Universal announced that Greengrass and Damon would be back for a Bourne 4 (or Bourne 5, depending on how you look at it) in 2016. “Paul Greengrass is going to do another one,” revealed the actor, “and that’s all I ever said. I just needed him to say yes.” Gilroy, for the first time, wouldn’t be involved. Instead, writing duties were shared between Greengrass, Damon and long-time Greengrass editor Christopher Rouse.

The name’s Bourne, Jason Bourne…

We’ve had Identity, Supremacy, Ultimatum… now with no more Robert Ludlum novels to reference, the franchise has played the eponymous card. Jason Bourne isn’t so-called simply because Bourne Legacy ruined the formula and 'Bourne Again’ would have been a bit on-the-nose. "We talked about calling it The Bourne 'Something’,” Damon tells Empire, "but I think the idea was to separate it, because so much time has passed since we did one.” Nine years have passed, to be precise, during which time the ex-black ops man has been trying to live with the hard truth he learnt at Ultimatum’s conclusion: that he’s not Jason Bourne at all. “The new one starts with the implications of that,” continues Damon. “Okay then, who is he? What is this identity that’s just sitting out there unclaimed? What does it mean?"

The story

As secretive as you’d expect from a film that’s actually about secrecy, just what Bourne - sorry, David Webb – is up against remains in the dark. What we do know is that he’s somewhere in Europe and that his attempts to lead a quieter life don’t look like featuring either pipe or slippers. The first image released showed him bare-knuckle fighting; the first teaser trailer had him rampaging around via motorbike and SWAT truck. There was no sign of any gardening or bingo outings in either. “If we found him fat and happy, you don’t really have a movie,” explained Damon in an EW interview, “so we talked about how getting his identity back in Ultimatum didn’t complete things for him. We find him in a very dark and tortured place."

There's plenty of evidence of that in the most recent trailer: you know things are bad when he has to take a Bourne nap.

The Nicky Parsons project

Julia Stiles’ Nicky Parsons with Bourne in Bourne Supremacy.

Returning with Damon is Julia Stiles as put-upon CIA field officer Nicky Parsons. In hiding when we last saw her in Bourne Ultimatum, her whereabouts remains a mystery but Bourne will still be tracking her down. “Bourne goes to her and she basically says, ‘Just because you remember everything, doesn’t mean you know everything’,” says Damon. Will Vincent Cassel, an unnamed villain and the movie’s big bad, figure in that?

It’ll be a battle between digital and analogue

Jason Bourne cast members (left to right): Vincent Cassel, Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jone.

As usual, the lines between good and evil will be blurry. The fact that Tommy Lee Jones’ character, Robert Dewey, is the CIA Director does not make him any less likely to be up to his eyeballs in the muck. We do know that he’ll be at loggerheads with Alicia Vikander’s cyber specialist. “She’s representing cyber, the fourth arm of warfare after air, land and sea,” explains Damon, “while [Dewey] represents the analog CIA in the way that the old guard thinks”. Four Lions’s Riz Ahmed is Aaron Kalloor, a close-cropped tech maven who runs a digital enterprise called Deep Dream. Are they colluding to spy on America’s citizens' private data? Are they reading your emails right now? Probably, yes.

Left to right: Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd and Riz Ahmed

Rounding out the named cast are Vinyl’s Ato Essandoh and Bridge Of Spies’ Scott Shepherd. Shepherd will be Dewey’s so-far unnamed CIA deputy.

Greece is the word

The stamps in Jason Bourne’s fake passports to date include Morocco, Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Spain, Greece, India, Switzerland and Russia. Jason Bourne has filmed in Kreuzberg in Berlin, Paddington and Woolwich in London (the latter doubling as southeastern Europe), Washington DC, before culminating in Las Vegas. It gets underway, though, in Athens (actually Tenerife). “We’re starting in Greece,” Damon revealed in 2015, “the beginning of democracy”. The teaser trailer (below) shows that, in Jason Bourne at least, democracy has been replaced by anarchy. As for Vegas? Expect more fireworks. “We closed off the strip and blew some shit up,” said Vikander.

Shit blows up in the teaser trailer too

The first trailer, debuted on Super Bowl night, was short but sweet. In it, we see Bourne at the beginning of the movie, negotiating Greek austerity riots, and at the end, driving over a traffic jam in a monster SWAT truck. There’s plenty of action beats on display but the quieter character development is all still to come. Check it out below.

… although not so much in the poster


Tommy Lee Owned

Matt Damon and Tommy Lee Jones in Jason Bourne

Despite spending a lot of time running around on his own, Bourne will at some point cross paths with Jones' Robert Dewey and from the looks of the picture above, it won't be a friendly chat over a mug of beer. Expect him to also meet up with Alicia Vikander's Heather Lee and Vincent Cassel's fellow Treadstone agent. "“Alicia represents the way the world has changed,” explains Damon. “The whole cyber element wasn’t there ten years ago. And Tommy Lee and Vincent Cassel make it feel like a new Bourne movie, but it’s definitely recognisable as a Bourne movie.”

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