Jason Bourne

            Those of us who have read Robert Ludlum have developed an affection for his fictional spy character, Jason Bourne, because he’s a modern cowboy in the purest sense:  he’s tough, smart, and fiercely independent.  He can take care of himself in a fight, and his dirty little secret is that he enjoys a good old-fashioned barroom brawl every now and then.  He’s familiar with technology, but he’s a lot more comfortable living off the grid.  He doesn’t report to anybody; he comes and goes as he pleases.  In fact, he has a tendency to appear and disappear anywhere and everywhere; he’s not one to stay in one place for very long.  He’s a man of the world, but doesn’t really call any place home.  Though women are attracted to him, he doesn’t have time to settle down and raise a family.  He’s a knight in that old-fashioned sense, a gentleman to the innocents and a fierce defender of the helpless; willing to do battle for his sense of justice at any moment.  Most of all, he will not be beholden to any man or any man’s system, including the government of his country, though he was once idealistic enough to think that would be a noble endeavor.

            As this movie’s story unfolds, we learn that Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is currently in hiding.  He’s worked for the CIA as a field agent “with license to kill,” and he’s dutifully carried out every assignment, assuming he was making the world a safer place for democracy.  But now reality has set in, and he’s learned that his father, whom he thought was only a program analyst, had some ties to the CIA himself.  And now Jason Bourne is wondering if his father’s death from a car explosion in a foreign city may have itself been arranged by “The Agency.”

            But whom does he trust for answers?  The CIA Director, Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), was himself part of that operation, and he has made it clear to his shady subordinates (and they are legion, some official and some not) that Bourne is a threat that needs to be eliminated.  One of his minions, analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) has ambitions and agendas of her own, and part of the cat-and-mouse game is how their rivalry plays out in the search for the elusive Jason Bourne.

            The action is non-stop; so rapid, in fact, that the viewer barely has time to consider some of the holes in the logic, not to mention the apparent invincibility of our taciturn hero.

But we root for him, anyway, because we want to see The Cowboy not only dispatch the bad guys and save the damsel in distress, but then ride off into the sunset leaving people asking themselves, “Who is that guy, anyway?”  We’re still not sure.  But all we know is, don’t bet against him.

Questions for Discussion:

1)                   Do you know a person who’s even close to being the classic cowboy?

2)                  Do you trust the CIA to always act in our best interests, and to run a righteous operation?

3)                  How many countries do you think have international spy operatives with “license to kill”?

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association