Jason Bourne is the American James Bond. Where England has its well-dressed, sophisticated, always-according-to-plan 007, America can rely on its rugged, improvisational, by-any-means-necessary Bourne to get the job done. And where they differ doesn’t stop at the personification of our two countries. You can also see our greatest fears in who we choose to demonise as our antagonist.
The Bourne Ultimatum capitalises on the love/hate relationship America has with its own intelligence organisations. Even before the Snowden leaks, the whole world knew the CIA, NSA, FBI, and all the other abbreviated agencies were into some shady shit. It’s great seeing it acknowledged, and more, denounced and dealt with, even if only in a fictional context.
I enjoyed The Bourne Ultimatum far more than I expected to. It’s not just another action film – it’s sophisticated and clever as American action gets. Despite throwing myself into the deep end having not seen another entry in the series, there were a lot of “holy shit!” moments, and I imagine they would have been even greater had I the background knowledge.
It’s probably not for everybody – I know plenty of people who write action films off out of principle. And The Bourne Ultimatum, as a conspiratorial thriller/action blockbuster, is not without its tropes (the found-footage-style shaky camerawork is probably its biggest offense). But these sins are so few, and the entertainment so big, it should not be written off just for having the misfortune of being an action film.