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The Bourne Films Ranked

It all started with a man at sea, and the two bullets in his back.

In today’s film ranking, we will be addressing none other than the man, the myth, and the legend himself; Jason Bourne. After losing his memory roughly 14 years ago, this summer has graced us with yet another entry into the Bourne canon. It just goes to show us that no matter what interlude of time passes, we will never be able to forget our favorite amnesiac, super soldiered hero.

To be perfectly honest, this series is one I hold dear to my heart. In fact, it was one of the very first “action” films I was ever allowed to watch. My obsession with it is so strong that my only time being in Zurich, Switzerland (a 4hr layover to be precise) consisted of me “fast paced” walking down the ultra-European looking streets, with the Bourne music going in my head. Yeah…like I said, I love this series.

So it stands to reason that we here at CER are eager to reveal to you our rankings for the 5 Bourne films. We will discuss the film’s story, characters, mystery, action, and of course, the underlying thread of redemption that Jason Bourne seems to represent. So without further ado…

5. The Bourne Legacy

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A film born out of necessity rather than creativity, The Bourne Legacy unfortunately leaves much to be desired as a Bourne film, despite some great talent being involved.  Jeremy Renner gives a solid performance as newcomer Aaron Cross, and he is notably different from Jason Bourne, which was a good move to make.  Edward Norton also is a nice addition to the franchise.  However, it becomes quite clear that this film only exists because Matt Damon didn’t want to do it, and it becomes difficult to remain invested in it, clear as it is that the movie is really only a spin-off solely for the sake of making another Bourne movie.  Not cool, guys.  Not cool. – Logan


4. Jason Bourne

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Too much of a “been there/done that” experience? Depends on who you ask here at CER. I tend to tread a bit more pessimistic, but I’ll try to put prejudice aside as best I can. One thing was very obvious about the 2016 comeback entry, Matt Damon MAKES it a Bourne Flick. In all honesty, his return made you feel as if everything was exactly where you left off, and that’s rather good. While such things as over familiarity, a rather generic and ho-hum tale, a couple of unfortunate character choices/eliminations (IMO), and a lack of further depth into Bourne’s past (aside from an uncharacteristically sappy father story, which was introduced far too late in the series to care about) made the film a bit of a letdown. But as I previously said, bringing Jason back actually made it a contention for a Bourne flick. With the help from the reliable action/thriller scenes, and a respectable new cast (especially Alicia Vikander), Jason Bourne still has a few tricks up his sleeve. – Andrew


3. The Bourne Supremacy

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After the incredible kick-start to the franchise (more on that in a minute), a Bourne movie without Marie seems like it would be awkward and unbalanced.  Sure, it’s less interesting in certain respects, but Bourne’s character development is pushed farther, the good and bad sides are more nuanced, and it ends up being anything but an unbalanced film.  Karl Urban in particular must be mentioned here as one who’s arguably the best villain of the Bourne series.  The Bourne films have always thrived on the premise that the bad guys are government black-ops programs, but Urban’s Kirill provides a solid single villainous opponent, a role few characters ever live long enough to play.  Pamela Landy’s addition also makes things a bit more complicated, with a good guy in the middle of the bad.  It becomes difficult to know who exactly to root for, and the story becomes that much more interesting as a result.  It may not be the best of the bunch, but it’s a great film on its own merit. – Logan


2. The Bourne Identity

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The Bourne films have lots of great gun fights, car chases, and hand-to-hand combat, but so do a lot of action movies.  The thing that makes this series interesting is the hook of the first film: a man with no memory wakes up on a boat with two bullets in his back and the skills of the world’s greatest assassin – who is he?  In that sense, The Bourne Identity is as much mystery as it is action/thriller, and shows with an expert hand how to make an audience care about a character for which you can show no cheeky flashbacks and drop no cliche demographical trivialities.  We care about Jason Bourne because he cares about Marie – a man who was clearly a killer of some flavor can now become a hero who saves people.  In that lies the core of the franchise’s appeal, and the appeal of countless action films, that in addition to smashing good fun, we want redemption stories.  If someone like Jason Bourne can be redeemed, then maybe we have hope – which is as good a start as any for thinking about a journey to faith and forgiveness. – Logan


1. The Bourne Ultimatum

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Have you noticed how absolutely condensed and to the point Ultimatum is? Every word, moment, and second is accounted for. Usually, this would be an irksome truth, but when done to perfection, it makes for one of the greatest displays of sheer adrenaline rush. That’s what’s on display here, perfection. While Identity was the character backstory, and Supremacy was the thrilling set up, Ultimatum comes in as the heart stopping action showdown. I won’t try and copy what countless others have said regarding the pulse-pounding roof chase, or the mesmerizing “Desh” fight, which all make for one of the most iconic and influential action pieces of our time. And while I could talk about the grand characters (Pamela), twists (birth year), and car chases. What I have decided to conclude on is Bourne’s concluding struggle with his past. In his search for redemption, He is finally pitted against the men who brought him to this agency. He sees the choices that he willingly made to enter “this program”, and we see the ultimate decision to leave it all behind on the rooftop. In this scene, it is appropriate the he concludes with Clive Owen’s statement in the original, to yet another morally conflicted agent, “look what they make you give.” It is with these words, in my personal opinion, that we see the end of Jason’s struggles. He has faced his past in its entirety, and whether he dies or lives is secondary, all he knows is that he has left the past in peace. – Andrew

How’d we do? Would you have changed things around a bit, or are we completely hopeless? Let us know in the comments. Hopefully regardless, we’ve piqued your interest in these films, or inspired you to go back and view them again. They’re certainly something special.

If I even feel somebody behind me, there is no measure to how fast and how hard I will bring this fight to your doorstep...”

Andrew Warnes

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