2 Stars – Entertaining
Like many sequels, “The Bourne Supremacy” does not have the depth of the original film, “The Bourne Identity.” In the first film, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is struggling with the question of who he is. Having become a trained assassin by a high-level operative in the CIA, Jason’s soul struggles with such an identity. When it becomes clear that he is only a pawn in a corrupt scheme over money, and when he finds the love of a woman who providentially enters his life, the choice becomes clearer and he rejects killing as the purpose for his life. Choosing to live in relationship with his girlfriend, Marie (Franka Potente), and choosing life instead of death, Jason goes into hiding in India. Here, he hopes to live happily ever after.
But in the sequel, there is no such underlying issue. In this film, all we have left is the action, car chases, murders and betrayals, without the identity issues or love interest to provide depth.
The moral issues of the plot are few and predictable. The evil Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) has sold out his country and his fellow agents to become wealthy. Working in secret with a Russian businessman, Abbott has to cover his tracks by having Bourne killed and, using his CIA connections, betrays Bourne’s location to the Russians.
A highly skilled assassin within the Secret Service of Russia named Kirill (Karl Urban) is sent to kill him. But instead, he mistakenly kills Marie and thinks that Bourne is dead. Because of her death, Bourne is compelled to use his superior skills to take vengeance out on those who both used him and killed her.
This is a frequent technique in action films. Good people, with superior skills, try to live in peace, but evil calls them out and they have to respond. This allows the viewers to experience the “thrill of the kill” with somewhat of a moral justification.
A subplot of the film is that Bourne has a case of amnesia. Trying to forget who he had been, Bourne’s psyche struggles to suppress the memories of his former life, but he nightly awakens in sweaty nightmares. Following Marie’s death, he no longer suppresses his former life and instead seeks out his tormentors and seeks both answers and vengeance.
There is an attempt to redeem his vengeance in that he does not kill in cold blood, as he has in his former identity. Instead, he brings people to their own self-destruction, giving Abbott a gun to commit suicide and manipulating a car chase so Kirill is killed by the collision.
The suggestion that our supremacy rests in our ability to wage battle and win, is a suggestion we must at some time reject, both as individuals and as nations. It is a suggestion that feeds an identity that is anything but superior.
- When Jason attempts to suppress his former life, it haunts his dreams and impairs his mind. Confession and asking forgiveness is the Bible’s way of dealing with former sins. When Jason goes to the daughter of the couple he had murdered and confesses his sin and says he is sorry, he begins his healing. What has been your experience in confessing and finding forgiveness for your past sins?
- The love of Marie has a profound impact on Jason. Even after she is killed, he chooses not to kill because “she would not have wanted him to.” How have the people in your life “raised the level” of your behavior and morality?
- When the people who are in power use that power for personal gain, they seldom are able to enjoy the “fruits” of their betrayal. What do you think it would be like to live in opulence knowing you had lied, betrayed and killed to get it. Could you enjoy it?