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Why You Should Thank Jason Bourne For All The Things You Like About Modern Action Films

Everything you need to know about the Bourne series before you catch the latest installment in theaters
by Rey de la Cruz Jr. | Jul 26, 2016
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Matt Damon is finally re-Bourne as one of the greatest action heroes of the 21st century makes his much-awaited big screen comeback this week. 

The Bourne franchise is something that most Filipinos are familiar with, especially since the fourth installment, The Bourne Legacy, was shot in various places in the Philippines.

Bannered by Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, The Bourne Legacy featured a high-speed motorbike chase scene on EDSA. It's probably the first and last time the words "high-speed" and "EDSA" were used together in a sentence.

Film No. 5 in this acclaimed and lucrative movie franchise is conveniently called Jason Bourne, just in case moviegoers have somehow forgotten who the story's main man is. It brings back Academy Award winner Damon in the eponymous role of the world's most conflicted super assassin.

For those of you who might be too young to remember, the Bourne series was launched in 2002 with The Bourne Identity. It was followed by The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, and the Renner-led The Bourne Legacy. Matt Damon begged off from reprising the role for The Bourne Legacy because he apparently did not want to be Bourne again at the time. (Pun very much intended, thank you for noticing.)

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A very young-looking Matt Damon before
he bought a zoo and went to Mars

To the uninitiated or the forgetful, the Bourne films follow the story of CIA operative Jason Bourne. He volunteers to undergo a CIA-initiated mind-conditioning program that turns him into the ultimate weapon.

He becomes a lethal one-man hit squad for the CIA, but in one of his missions, he refuses to pull the trigger on his target. He gets shot as a result, and although he survives the ordeal, he wakes up with extreme memory loss. Though he's clueless about his identity, Bourne remembers everything that makes him such a dangerous operative—from his daunting combat skills to his mad driving chops to his impeccable proficiency in foreign languages.

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The trailer for Jason Bourne seems to show Bourne in an
fistfight. Hey, if you're good at knocking people
out then why not, right? 
We all need to work for a living

Basically, Jason Bourne is just like you after a night of heavy drinking. You end up speaking in tongues that no one understands and you somehow think you can do martial arts so you pick up a fight with the bouncer and end up with a few broken ribs the next day.

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What follows is a quest to regain his memory as well as to evade those who are trying to silence him for good. Sort of like the plot of our local telenovelas where the main character has amnesia after an accident. Only here the main character is an A-list CIA operative who can kill you with just a rolled-up copy of FHM.


What makes the Bourne series so special is that it started a revolution in the action movie genre. After the Matrix movies came out, all action films that followed wanted to emulate The Wachowskis' trippy tricks. "Bullet-time" was used and abused and every action movie protagonist incorporated Kung Fu.

But all this changed when Jason Bourne came along. He didn't do kung fu and didn't need to do any fancy martial arts stances before destroying his enemies. Instead, he employed what can be considered as "practical fighting" which became the norm for almost all action movies that followed.

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The enemy has a gun? Bourne has a vase that he's going to smash your head with. The next goon has a knife? Don't worry, Bourne can be bloodily imaginative with his pen as well. Can you think of anyone as bad-ass as Bourne? 

You could call "Lolo Jason Bourne" the grandfather of the modern action genre since a lot of movies has copied his style since. That's why the usually suave James Bond was changed from Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig, whose Agent 007 stylings include just as much skull-crushing as martini-drinking. Even the Marvel and DC movies seemed to have ripped off a page from the Bourne Encyclopedia of Hurting People. Compare Tim Burton's Batman films to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and you'll definitely see the difference.

He also revolutionized the spy genre as well. Pre-Jason Bourne, film super spies rely on a variety of gadgets to escape death, rendering them virtually invincible. Bond with an invisible car—really!?! The Bourne series said "eff that" to all the fancy gizmos and brought things back to earth. He relied instead on his smarts, skill, and improvisation. He's like the modern day MacGyver in some way, if MacGyver didn't have the mullet and the cheesy '80s soundtrack.

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There are a lot of reasons to be excited about the latest addition to the Bourne series. Will it be as revolutionary and critically acclaimed as the previous films? Or will it be more like the universally panned The Bourne Legacy with it's unrealistic portrayal of Metro Manila traffic? That remains to be seen. The good news is, it won't take long for us to find out for ourselves if "Lolo Jason" still has a few tricks up his sleeves.

Rey de la Cruz Jr. likes talking about films as much as he likes watching them. He runs, a site that provides Filipino moviegoers with reviews written in a voice that is uniquely Pinoy.

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