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The Bourne films are a series of action/thriller spy films based on the character Jason Bourne, a former CIA assassin suffering from extreme memory loss, created by author Robert Ludlum. All three of Ludlum's novels were adapted for the screen, featuring Matt Damon as the titular character in each. Doug Liman directed The Bourne Identity (2002), Paul Greengrass directed The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Tony Gilroy co-wrote each film and directed The Bourne Legacy (2012). The series is noted for its realism, in contrast to the growing use of computer-generated imagery in the action genre.
Director Doug Liman stated that he had been a fan of The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum since he read it in high school. Near the end of production of Liman's previous film Swingers, Liman decided to develop a film adaptation of the novel. After more than two years of securing rights to the book from Warner Brothers and a further year of screenplay development with screenwriter Tony Gilroy, the film went through two years of production. Liman approached a wide range of actors for the role of Bourne, including Russell Crowe and Sylvester Stallone, before he eventually cast Matt Damon. Liman found that Damon understood and appreciated that, though The Bourne Identity would have its share of action, the focus was primarily on character and plot. Production was difficult, with screenplay rewrites occurring throughout the entire filming and Liman constantly arguing with Universal's executives. The Bourne Identity was eventually released in June 2002.
A man (Matt Damon) is found floating in the Mediterranean Sea with two gunshot wounds in his back and a device with the number of a Swiss safe deposit box embedded in his hip. Upon reaching shore, the man assumes the name Jason Bourne after finding a passport under the name in the safe deposit box, along with other international passports, large amounts of assorted currencies, and a gun. He subsequently attempts to discover his true identity while countering attempts on his life by CIA assassins, eventually realizing that he is one such assassin who failed to complete his most recent mission. Bourne breaks his connections to the CIA and unites with Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente), a woman who helped him learn about his most recent actions prior to his memory loss. Bourne's conflict with the CIA reaches a climax when he takes the fight to their doorstep.
Some two years after learning that he is a trained assassin and breaking his connections with the CIA, Jason Bourne is framed for a crime connected to one of his past missions. A subsequent attempt on his life results in Marie's death, so he decides to take revenge by hunting down those responsible for her death and his forgotten past, thinking that the CIA is hunting him again. Bourne discovers that Ward Abbott (Brian Cox), one of the men who oversaw Operation Treadstone, the program which trained Bourne to be an assassin, stole millions of dollars from the CIA. Abbott meant to implicate Bourne in the theft with the frameup, which would have led the CIA on a wild goose chase had Bourne been killed as intended. Bourne exposes Abbott to Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), the CIA agent in charge of finding Bourne, and Abbott commits suicide. During a long car chase with Bourne, the Russian agent who was paid to kill him and was responsible for Marie's death is killed, and Bourne goes into hiding.
Six weeks later, Bourne learns that a British journalist has been investigating his past and contacts him to find out who his source is. Bourne is subsequently targeted by Operation Blackbriar, an upgraded Operation Treadstone, which has also taken note of the investigation. Believing that Bourne is a threat and is seeking revenge, Blackbriar's director Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) begins a new hunt for Bourne. Bourne manages to take classified documents proving that Blackbriar has targeted U.S. citizens and is aided by Landy, who disagreed with Vosen from the beginning and does not support Blackbriar's existence, and former Treadstone logistics technician Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), whom, it is implied, had some romantic feelings for Bourne before his final mission and resultant amnesia. Bourne finally comes face to face with the person who oversaw his behavioral modification as the first Treadstone operative some years earlier, memories of which resurface. Those responsible for Treadstone and Blackbriar are exposed, and Bourne goes underground.
Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is a member of Operation Outcome, a United States Department of Defense black ops program which enhances the physical and mental abilities of field operatives through pills referred to as "chems". Cross is deployed to Alaska for a training assignment, crosses rugged terrain to reach a cabin operated by an exiled Outcome operative. The Blackbriar and Treadstone programs are publicly exposed, leading the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to investigate those involved. Retired Air Force Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton), who is responsible for overseeing the CIA's clandestine operations, decides to end Outcome and kill its agents. Cross manages to survive attempts on his life and attempts to find a way to get more chems, as his have run out. Cross eventually comes upon Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), his last link to gain more chems. She tells him of a way to permanently enhance him and the two travel to a factory in Manila to do so. They manage to succeed and evade more attempts on their lives before escaping, making their way towards Vietnam.
|The Bourne Identity||The Bourne Supremacy||The Bourne Ultimatum||The Bourne Legacy|
|Jason Bourne/David Webb||Matt Damon||(Photographic Cameo/Mentioned)|
|Nicky Parsons||Julia Stiles|
|Marie Helena Kreutz||Franka Potente||(Flashback)|
|Alexander Conklin||Chris Cooper||(Flashback)|
|Ward Abbott||Brian Cox||(Flashback)|
|Danny Zorn||Gabriel Mann|
|The Professor||Clive Owen||(Flashback)|
|Nykwana Wombosi||Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje||(Photographic Cameo)|
|Pamela Landy||Joan Allen|
|Tom Cronin||Tom Gallop|
|Noah Vosen||David Strathairn|
|Martin Kreutz||Daniel Brühl|
|Ezra Kramer||Scott Glenn|
|Dr. Albert Hirsch||Albert Finney|
|Ray Wills||Corey Johnson|
|Simon Ross||Paddy Considine||(Flashback)|
|Desh Bouksani||Joey Ansah|
|Aaron Cross/Kenneth Kitsom||Jeremy Renner|
|Dr. Marta Shearing||Rachel Weisz|
|Eric Byer||Edward Norton|
|Mark Turso||Stacy Keach|
|Number 3||Oscar Isaac|
The Bourne series was met with both critical and commercial success. Ultimatum won three Academy Awards: Best Film Editing, Sound, and Best Sound Editing. Both Supremacy and Ultimatum won the Empire Award for Best Film.
|Film||Release date||Box office revenue||Box office ranking||Budget||Reference|
|United States||Elsewhere||Worldwide||All time US||All time worldwide|
|The Bourne Identity||June 14, 2002||$121,661,683||$92,372,541||$214,034,224||#359||#448||$60,000,000|||
|The Bourne Supremacy||July 23, 2004||$176,241,941||$112,258,276||$288,500,217||#171||#297||$75,000,000|||
|The Bourne Ultimatum||August 3, 2007||$227,471,070||$215,353,068||$442,824,138||#90||#133||$110,000,000|||
|The Bourne Legacy||August 10, 2012||$112,359,655||$119,800,000||$232,159,655||#418||#416||$125,000,000|||
|The Bourne Identity||83% (183 reviews)||79% (38 reviews)||68 (38 reviews)|
|The Bourne Supremacy||81% (188 reviews)||75% (40 reviews)||73 (39 reviews)|
|The Bourne Ultimatum||94% (234 reviews)||98% (41 reviews)||85 (38 reviews)|
|The Bourne Legacy||56% (206 reviews)||55% (38 reviews)||61 (42 reviews)|