First Bourne, Baby: My Review and Difficulties Understanding a Franchise I’ve Never Seen Before

There’s something special about seeing the newest addition of a blockbuster movie franchise when you haven’t seen but maybe ten minutes of any of the previous films.

Back in 2002, I missed the unveiling and identification of  one Mr. Matt Damon Jason Bourne to the world. I have no idea why, either. That same year, I saw Swimfan, Eight Crazy Nights, Maid in Manhattan, 8 Mile, and, holy shit, Punch-Drunk Love. (That’s two Sandler movies in a goddamn calendar year, gang. I wasn’t being picky.)

Yet, no Bourne.

Years later, I missed his rise to supremacy.

After that, I missed his ultimatum.

By 2012, I had watched close to 47,788 films. None involved Jason Bourne.

Then, Jeremy Renner came into the picture. What the hell is this? I thought…and then I missed his legacy.

There have been times in the past 14 years that I have spent at least seven (or so) seconds staring into the mirror, wondering what I missed by not seeing any of the Bourne movies… Was it that good? Was it Harry Potter and Froto…mixed with HGH?

Is it true that you haven’t lived until you’ve been… Bourne?

I had no clue.

That is, until now…

Last Friday, I crammed and contorted my body into a seat at the Arclight Cinemas (Hollywood, yo!) for my first experience with Bourne Mania.

Here’s my review-ish.


The Beginning: Matt Damon Didn’t Draw Fist Blood, But He Did Call John Rambo

Solid beginning. Classic tale.

Matt Damon has lost…something. He’s lost, too, which means he would probably go and find whatever is missing…if he only knew were the fuck he was. What a conundrum. (Perhaps he should have gotten a map before driving cross-country to go look for Minnie Driver?)

Matt has apparently found work and comfort, though, in the bare-knuckle (sort of) boxing circuit. This is most likely based on direct advice from Rambo (or Charlie Sheen via Hot Shots: Part Deux), which is a smarter alternative to collecting snakes and giving boat rides to  Julie Benz.

As expected, Damon beats the shit out of a more pissed-off looking guy in the other corner, teaching the betting folks you should not judge a book by its cover. Ironically, I learned that these Bourne movies were adapted from books.

And so, the film begins…


Don’t miss this!

There is an extreme—extremely extreme!—close-up of his nose and eyes at the beginning and I think that helped set up the main theme for this installment: We are going to get really close to this guy. (Full disclosure: Not having seen any of the other films, I had no idea if they had already gotten close to Matt Damon.)


The Plot:

Of course, there needed to be some Top Secret Files at risk.

I think those things should be superimposed to roll with the opening credits of any action-based espionage film, save a little time, but credit to the writers for being smart enough to at least get some file encryption happening before the five-minute mark.

Julia Stiles shows up at an internet cafe, acting like her Pokémon Go is in there and she must have access. They let her in. She sorts through some files at a nervous-hamster-on-its-wheel pace. Not just any files, though; this hack had information about the Treadstone file.

My first thought: What is that?!?

Did it have…locations of bars that will still serve you a Moscow Mule in a copper mug without taking your I.D.? FBI urinalysis results? Barack’s favorite lottery numbers? A never-before-seen spread of Dame Judi Dench on a catamaran in the Falkland Islands, or, perhaps, the exact location of residence and current photo of Jake from Sixteen Candles? That’s what the world wants!

And why did Julia Stiles have it?

The rest of the movie—franchise?—is based on that file.


The Director Slows Down the Pace with a Strategically Placed Tommy Lee Jones.

Like a lazy afternoon on the beach,  searching for pennies with one of those metal detectors…

Tommy Lee Jones is in no hurry—though he should be?—to find answers regarding Julia’s hack. He’s the head of this National Security/CIA team, yet his severity level doesn’t rise above a neutral-ish, off-white level. “Well, now, shit, what’s going on here?”

While pandemonium sets in, he walks around in a general malaise, handing out Werther’s Originals and telling tales about how you’ll explode if you eat cookie dough and then go outside and play in the sun.

Luckily, there’s a younger girl on the payroll who doesn’t have trouble understanding Snapchat or other technological-based oddities. She is…I forgot her name, actually, but she looked a Kirsten. And Kirsten knew exactly how to locate Julia and cancel out her shenanigans.

A few pecks on the keyboard and…BOOM! FIZZ! Pop! Fire. Fire. The chase is on—sort of a general theme throughout the entire movie. People want to know what the hell Jake currently looks like.


By the Time I Remembered that Julia Stiles was in ‘Save the Last Dance’ and not ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ She was Dead

The general gasp of the audience led me to believe she was in the other Bourne movies, and played an important role—although  the gasp sounded more like relief, and less like anguish. Perhaps they were ready for this character to cease? I couldn’t quite place it.

Before Stiles’ demise, though, there is one (of many) chase scenes. This one has Matt Damon on a motorcycle. It’s intense. There’s fury.



There’s Always Something in a Bus/Train Station Locker

As Stiles exhales her final breath, she tosses a key to Matt Damon. That key opens a locker. It always does. Espionage people love keeping shit in train station lockers.

Pure genius.


Favorite Character

The Asset.

One-namers are cool. From Sinbad to Alf, the characters who have earned a solid place in cinematic history, with the assistance of only one name, have my respect. Do it as a  description, though, and you’re in some limited company.

The Asset does not want the admiration, mind you. He’s out to kill Bourne and Julia Stiles—up to this point, he was batting .500—and his comparison with The Machine from 8MM is not going to grant anyone any favors.

He’s a badass.

He reminded me of a mashup of this guy:


This guy:


And a whole bunch of this guy:


Honorable Mention


Naz from The Night Of shows up and is now a cyber-savvy pimp in the Internet world. Tommy Lee Jones is in cahoots with Naz and his company Deep Dream—probably under the assumption he can get free cable . Naz gets shot, but lives.

Will he be so lucky with John Turturro and his feet?


Least Favorite Character

The guy from Mein Vater und andere Betrüger…

What the fuck?


Each Line Spoken—by Any Character—Could Have Served as the Ending to the Trailer.

It was written in such a way that, if the power shorted and the movie screen melted due to an electrical fire, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised. I felt like each delivery was meant to be followed by something catastrophic.

If we’re going to do this, then we do it right, big, for the last time, (the phone rings; person answers). Hello. I’ve been expecting this call. This time, we know what to do. It’s time to end this, once and for all. We go big—bigger than ever before—because I thing we finally know the answer.



Everything After Stiles is Eliminated

This was the part where I got lost and realized there was 14-years’ worth of stuff at play here.

A few things I learned:

  • Jason Bourne’s dad wasn’t Treadstone…Bob Treadstone.
  • Jason Bourne isn’t Jason Bourne’s real name…it’s not Wally Treadstone, either.
  • Matt Damon wants to know why his dad was killed. There’s a flashback, with blurred images that don’t come into focus until the end. We’re all looking thorough the same pair of bad contacts, apparently.
  • You can take beer (or any booze) from the bar at the Arclight into the movie(!!!!!!!!).


Biggest Disappointment

You telling me there wasn’t one role throughout the entire franchise for Samuel L. Jackson?


Best Scene

Tommy Lee Jones gives Kirsten a chance to go and catch Matt Damon. She sets up the entire operation and is super stoked to be running the show.

While Tommy Lee Jones sits at home with a cup of Chamomile and an earpiece, Kirsten moves into action…

Like a shit, though, Tommy Lee Jones has the Asset kill each of Kirsten’s operatives…meanwhile, Kirsten has no clue because she’s tracking their movements from a Nintendo/Zelda-looking apparatus.

The entire scene was very serious, but TLJ’s “Hey, what’s going on here, now, shit?” lines—even though he knew—were snort-worthy.


Right Before the End: Spoiler!

We are treated with a sweet pun: It turns out The Asset killed Matt Damon’s dad—and that’s why the Bourne franchise was…well, born.

Kirsten notices that TLJ is a curmudgeon and, seeing she has zero need for AARP, she decides to help Matt Damon.

TLJ gets shot, and doesn’t live.

There is a car chase that has such intricate close-ups of Matt Damon you can’t tell if he’s sitting, standing, reading a book, flying a plane, or driving a car. Like I said: You really get close to Bourne in this one.

Then, the Asset dies.

And so did my interest.


The End: Spoiler!

Bourne is back in the states, for now, possibly going to Arizona to thank Rambo for the boxing tips.

First, though, he meets with Kirsten and she gives him a trinket to remind him of his dead dad. He loves it—but doesn’t give her anything (or so we think: I’ll leave you that part for discover yourself).

Then, Moby:

That tells me there will be more of these movies that I may (or may not) see.


Rick’s Rating


True, this was my first experience being…Bourne. But after I popped out of Matt Damon’s symbolical vagina, I didn’t breathe in the sweet air of life-giving excitement that comes with a blockbuster. Far from it.

Instead, I thought about those Sandler movies in 2002.

What the fuck?






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