There’s something sexy about a dead-serious man willing to do anything to get the job done. The Batmans and Liam Neesons of the world, men who ruthlessly cut through criminal organizations while brooding about the atrocities they’ve been forced to commit. Even the supposedly goody-two-shoes Superman now scowls as he struts out of exploded court houses filled with charred corpses and jars of pee. Is any of this sexiness getting you hot and bothered yet? Too bothered?
They are almost never seen eating, but always drink. If they’re in bed, they’re having nightmares about those they’ve lost (or, you know, having sex). They are emotionally cold and distant when they’re not being glib. This is all done in the name of emotional complexity, but can we still call it that when every character is the same?
For example, why does Hollywood refuse to accept Superman as simply a morally sound hero who genuinely wants to help people? Struggling to protect those weaker than him is a perfectly legitimate problem. Did they think we couldn’t relate to him unless he cried in an ice cave like he’s in an Evanescence music video? Did they think he’d look like a “pussy” if he didn’t destroy an entire city and snap Zod’s neck in front of two children?
The Bourne series has a weird place in the action genre. Most series that have lasted this long (The Bourne Identity came out in 2002, and death will come for us all one day) go through some period of reinvention. Fast & Furious went from a street-racing orgy to a parade of increasingly ludicrous heists. The X-Men series introduced a cast of mutants, and then introduced those mutants again but younger and in a different timeline … maybe? But The Bourne Awesome Noun has always been about Jason Bourne and the various ways that he’s committed tax evasion and murder.
It’s a cool concept: A dude slowly unravels his memories of being part of a giant CIA conspiracy, and uses that knowledge, along with his sweet punching skills, to try to take the multitude of evil programs down. But it’s also alienating after the second hour. Because never once do the Bourne films try to start from scratch. No, they go the anime route, wherein you have to remember years of history, but also: You know that guy whom you thought was the big bad guy? Well, there’s ANOTHER guy who’s even bigger than him, and HE’S the guy we now need to be worried about. It turns the films into a montage of actors in suits reacting to Jason Bourne with their best “I knew it …” faces on.
And it can only go deeper, as long as they stay on their current path. Jason Bourne can never say, “Well, that’s it. I stopped the CIA. The whoooole thing.” And that aspect doesn’t need to be dropped totally. The lingering shadow of his past should always hang over him, preventing him from any kind of normal career in banking or YouTube. But remember 2008’s Rambo, the movie in which Stallone grabbed a gun on the back of a jeep and mowed down nameless people for nearly a day?
Remember how that movie didn’t necessarily bring up the plot points of the first few Rambo movies, but definitely still made it clear that Rambo had seen some shit? Jason Bourne needs that kind of fresh start.
There are more evil politicians in movies than there are lower back tattoos at a Saliva concert. And yet none of them ever seem to be the president. Seriously, every movie with a shady politician somehow manages to limit their offices to senators and congressmen, with the occasional CIA director thrown in to keep things spicy. Operation Treadstone is always created and run without the president’s knowledge or involvement.
Movies like Iron Man 3, X-Men, the Star Wars prequels, Bob Roberts, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The American President, and others revolve primarily around conspiratorial senators, vice presidents, and the like abusing their power. But why? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have an evil president? After all, isn’t that a scarier proposition?