The Quietest Badass: Ten Years of The Bourne Supremacy

As we here at GWW reflected on the Red Sox fantastic 2013 campaign, we realized that October 2014 will mark ten years since our beloved BoSox broke the Curse in the fateful fall of 2004. As a result, we felt old. In an attempt to feel even older, we will from time to time remember other favorites celebrating their tin anniversary in 2014. Remember, the next ten years could be even better, but don’t get your hopes up.


Our current movie world is one filled with superheroic stars, actual superhuman heros -heck even groups of superheroes – and action movies stretching the limits of CGI and our Earthly perception (Gravity is the fist film we can safely say is not the same movie if not experienced in IMAX. Simply breathtaking).Overwhelmed by big explosions (ahem, Michael Bay) and even bigger characters (e.g. billionaire philanthropist playboys), you may struggle to think of any recent movie heroes succeeding because of their wits and human strength. Let’s turn back the clocks to July 2004, when The Bourne Supremacy firmly established the Bourne franchise as a success and confirmed what The Bourne Identity had suggested: Matt Damon was Jason Bourne, just like Sean Connery was James Bond and Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones.

At the peak of the franchise’s success, separating Damon from Bourne was difficult.

If you’re being nitpicky, you may point out that it’s really been twelve years since the Bourne franchise began. I, however, would like to remind our audience of the second installment’s…errr…supremacy over the trilogy’s (no, Bourne Legacy, you can’t sit with us) other two installments. Both Identity and Ultimatum are also incredibly entertaining action films, and Damon thrives in the role each time, but Supremacy has the plot, script, and incredible action sequences (poor guy was just doing his job…) to push it ahead of its siblings.  The first movie was fun and shook things up in the action world – there hadn’t been a spy movie like that in some time.  Supremacy took the next step, driving the series into the seriously murky, blood-stained waters of a larger conspiracy.

Screenwriter Tony Gilroy made sure Damon’s Bourne would flourish.

Throughout the trilogy, Matt Damon absolutely kills it as Jason Bourne, balancing his cold stoicism with phenomenal physical and mental capabilities. Supremacy gives him a chance to fully form his character, a man who fights dirty and does whatever it takes to figure out what has happened to him. There are great, action-movie-y moments — such as the one at the end of this scene — but Jason Bourne exists in a darker, more sinful world and bureaucracy than the onscreen heroes to whom we have grown accustomed. Bourne employs badass strategy and stunts, but he does so because he has to. His circumstances compel him to be crafty, to do everything from stabbing a man with a pen to beating the crap out of another with a magazine before blowing up his house. The latter scene showcases Bourne’s skill but also the depths to which he must sink to uncover his past. Likewise, the incredible car chases come about not to simply show off Bourne’s superiority but to force us to confront just how violent and reckless he must act to overcome the CIA’s plans against him. These films do not give us a simple good versus bad scenario but rather a good man fighting against a corrupt organization steadfast in their belief that he wronged them.

Jason Bourne can’t afford to live or fight in a sexy manner.

Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, and others provide a solid supporting backdrop, but the movie of course comes down to Matt Damon.  Firmly planted on Hollywood’s A-list and having enjoyed a period as its #1 man, Damon truly is a man without peer in movies today.  He’s never won an acting Oscar and is just about the quietest global superstar around.  He ably jumps from silly-dumb (in Stuck on You, as Jimmy Kimmel’s playful ‘nemesis’) to more serious works, and even his ‘flops’ are generally enjoyable – and never career-halting (i.e. The Adjustment Bureau).   It’s still difficult to fathom how he fit so perfectly into the role of Jason Bourne, but then again Damon’s immense fame tends to cloud just how talented and reserved he is. Like the movie itself, Damon fits into a popular and profitable mold without wholly succumbing to the desires of the masses, appealing to the audience without worshipping it, entertaining without selling out, kicking ass without the help of aliens, superheroes, or elaborate pyrotechnics.  The same charm that drew people to Will Hunting exists in all of Damon’s roles.  He is not quite an ‘everyman’ but remains undeniably relatable. This quiet likability makes his badass Bourne alter-ego all the more fun.

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About Author: Brian McMahon

Brian is an author and co-founder of GoodWillWatching. He likes to write and is deathly afraid of bugs. His Great American Novel, not yet titled or existent, will be shocking the world some time or another. He once stayed up for two days straight because of poor information regarding the arrival of Halley’s Comet, which was not due for approximately 57 years. You can follow him @bm1313 on Twitter, or in real life from a safe distance.