All 5 Jason Bourne Movies, Ranked from Worst to Best - VRGyani News and Media

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

All 5 Jason Bourne Movies, Ranked from Worst to Best

The Bourne franchise changed the direction of modern action cinema. Diverting wildly from '90s campiness with a gritty, realistic style, the films epitomized the importance of real stunt work when CGI was so often used as a crutch. The action was nimble and the stories were politically aware, set in the real world of modern espionage. While the James Bond and Mission: Impossible franchises went through tonal crises in the early 21st century, Bourne became the hardened spy series of the Bush era.

It's hard to imagine a time where Matt Damon wasn’t renowned as an action star, and the presence of a seasoned awards-caliber actor at the height of his popularity as a recurring franchise lead is only one part of the legacy left by Bourne. Just look at how many bad imitators mistook Bourne’s frantic mayhem as nothing more than hastily spliced together shaky cam and produced embarrassing results.

The franchise’s future is unclear. Neither of the last two installments generated much enthusiasm about seeing the story continue, and producer Frank Marshall has indicated that a sixth film is in search of a new voice to reframe the saga’s direction.

Each of the films is fascinating in its own right. Here are all five Bourne movies, ranked worst to best.

RELATED: Jason Bourne Was Meant to Kill Nicky Parsons in the First 'Bourne' Film; Julia Stiles Explains How She Survived

5. Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne fails to justify bringing the character back after a near-perfect trilogy. The most interesting aspect of Bourne's characterization is his own exasperation at having to return; here, he’s no longer exploratory, just grimacing as he brutally unravels another CIA conspiracy. It's a theoretically interesting concept, and Damon commits to playing the generally empathetic character as a relentless killing machine. He’s just trapped within a messy story that hastily tries to tie in a backstory about his father that’s never clearly defined.

It's unfortunate because so much of the filmmaking from Paul Greengrass is top-notch. In particular, Bourne’s escape with Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) on motorcycle through the streets of Iceland and his brutal final brawl with a Blackbriar assassin (Vincent Cassell) in Las Vegas are among the saga’s best. It's still pretty cool to watch Damon walk away to “Mysterious Ways” after deceiving CIA operative Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), but it merely promises a more exciting next installment that never came.

4. The Bourne Legacy

Jeremy Renner was seemingly handed the torch of two franchises (Bourne and Mission: Impossible) where the original star just stayed. Ironically, he’s the least interesting part of The Bourne Legacy (which makes a compelling case for Oscar Isaac as its lead until he disappears 45 minutes in). Aaron Cross isn’t a bad character, but his search for answers treads over too much familiar territory. Although they’re saddled with sharing dialogue that’s mostly exposition, Cross and Rachel Weisz’s Dr. Marta Shearing have an engaging relationship. Shearing sees the subject of her research struggling before her eyes, so their journey of self-discovery is simultaneous.

However, The Bourne Legacy does a fantastic job exploring the macro world of black ops through micro setpieces. The world of modern surveillance is messy, with military, government, and pharmaceutical players all seeking to experiment with human subjects like Cross. The conspiracy is less clear-cut, but the consequences are. Cross has to learn that all of his advanced abilities are genetically modified, and Shearing has to watch as her workplace is massacred. It's a refreshing change of pace that set up a potentially promising future before the franchise reverted to formula. Come for the steadicam action, stay for Edward Norton’s scary-chewing Air Force colonel.

3. The Bourne Identity

Even setting aside how much of a game-changer it was, The Bourne Identity holds up as a fascinating character piece within a breathless thriller. Damon’s wide-eyed confusion at the deadly abilities he has no explanation for holds emotional weight, as he’s rendered horrified and terrified by what he’s capable of. Although the shadowy CIA players add a neo-noir paranoia that’s fascinating, scenes as simple as Bourne calming down his exasperated driver Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) are equally important. There’s a real drive for him to get answers, and regardless of why exactly he is there, there’s a reason to sympathize.

Compared to the slick orchestration that Greengrass would adopt, Doug Liman provides a chaotic sense of mayhem emblematic of Bourne’s own anxieties. The bursts of action are unexpected; Bourne could be forced to make a quick evacuation after finding a clue, and a knife-wielding assassin could come crashing through a window at any moment. Even if the details of Bourne’s amnesia would be saved for the sequels, each of the fantastic setpieces has a clear purpose where there’s a definitive goal. Although the Greengrass films would become more focused, a purely dramatic flourish like Bourne’s romance with Marie is an element of hope that is unique to his origin story.

2. The Bourne Supremacy

If Liman’s frenzied beginning was the perfect way to introduce Bourne to his ruthless world, Greengrass gave him a focused mission. Bourne may have ended the Treadstone program that spawned him in Identity, but he’s immediately set on a path of vengeance when The Bourne Supremacy opens with the shocking death of Marie at the hands of a CIA assassin. It resulted in a darker and more kinetic film. Most of Damon’s wide-eyed innocence is dropped, and he’s more confident in his abilities and determined to dismantle the newly introduced Blackbriar program.

Identity leaned into Bourne’s creativity, but Supremacy identified the determined problem-solving that became elemental to the character. He’s always thinking on his feet, dissecting information as he’s pursued. Greengrass’s more intimate, close-quarter combat produced gripping hand-to-hand combat scenes where the fighting is dirty, as opponents like Jarda (Marton Csokas) and Kirill (Karl Urban) are just as adept as Bourne is. While the lack of Marie results in little to no dialogue for the hardened Bourne, his empathetic side isn’t lost. Bourne softens his interrogation of Nicky Parsons when he realizes she’s the same type of pawn he is. The conclusion where he apologizes to Irena Neski (Oksana Akinshina), whose father he killed in an earlier mission, is a profound moment of atonement.

1. The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum finally provided the answers to Bourne’s inception that the trilogy had been culminating towards. Supremacy had teased Bourne’s real name of David Webb in a scene that’s repeated here, but Ultimatum explores the origin of the CIA brainwashing procedures. It puts Bourne on a path towards justice by exposing the program that spawned him. Damon famously felt that Tony Gilroy’s screenplay lacked pathos, but Stiles is tasked with a lot of the emotional heavy lifting. She’s working in parallel to Bourne in dismantling Blackbriar, and genuinely cares about seeing him find solace.

All of the breakneck tactility that Greengrass brought to Supremacy is amplified here. The Waterloo sequence is a masterclass of building tension through intercutting multiple characters and locations, and the incredible rooftop leap is an amazing escalation seamlessly integrated within a fluid sequence. The action has more clarity, and the New York car chase is the biggest setpiece yet. Ultimatum is electrifying until its final moments in which Bourne asks his pursuer Paz (Édgar Ramírez) if he knows why he’s trying to kill him. It's a rewarding callback to his interaction with The Professor (Clive Owen) in Identity, and a great moment of growth for Bourne to inspire the introspection he’s done over the course of the trilogy within his opponent. One of the best action movies of the 21st century, The Bourne Ultimatum is a show-stopping spectacle that combines the thrills, emotion, and intelligence that make the series unique.

KEEP READING: 50 Essential Action Movies Every Serious Film Fan Should See



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