The complete franchise guide!

Skip to #WhatWeLearntFrom

Jason Bourne has no memory of his dangerous past, but is this a memorable franchise?

The Bourne franchise has had a typical journey: it started by loosely using the framework of a Robert Ludlum thriller to create a single film released in 2002 which then spawned two more films which were again based on Ludlum novels. The second and third films intertwined closely sharing story and scenes and left no real need for the third film, The Bourne Ultimatum. Adding new characters late in the trilogy for Ultimatum, such as Doctor Hirch, also seemed convenient rather than appropriate. The trilogy had solid figures at the box office but Matt Damon, who played Jason Bourne, wasn’t interested in returning so a spin off was created starring Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross and was released in 2012.

The Bourne Identity kick started the series and is known for its realistic approach to the action genre. As an expert in close combat, Bourne is famous for using domestic objects for violence, but only once in the first film does this happen. Also surprisingly for the action genre, only five guns are fired throughout the entire movie which could indicate Bourne’s more intellectual approach to combat – he uses what he has to his advantage rather than duel wielding big guns to defeat baddies.

The Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum continue the franchise with an impressive consistency resisting the temptation taken by other action series to increase gun fights, explosions and deaths. In fact there is only one explosion per film during Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum which is incredibly low for the action genre. Interestingly, Bourne only shoots four people throughout the entire franchise and all of these events occur during the debut film, Identity. This is astonishing as almost every other film about a capable agent/soldier will have the lead ploughing the enemy down by the dozen, especially in later films.

Even the recreation of the franchise, The Bourne Legacy, resists typical action fair with the lead shooting only two people, although there is an increase in explosions from an average of 1 per film to 4 in Legacy. There is also an increase of deaths from a previous average of 6 to 11 in Legacy. Oddly, this film is the closest to the franchise debut, Identity, in many of the stats including physical fights, chases, lead kills, and even lead injuries which are all identical. This could be by design as using the core components of the first film means that fans could remain happy with the different lead character, Aaron Cross.

Overall, The Bourne Franchise is surprisingly consistent at resisting action set pieces and remaining loyal to the characters thought process (keep action/danger to a minimum). The first three films work as a set but even Legacy, which is essentially a reboot, keeps the Bourne vision alive not straying from the restrained action sequences too much. The anti U.S. government cover-up plot remains throughout and provides an odd backdrop for a Hollywood action franchise but is core to the intelligence of the series.

What we learnt from...


Commit violent acts
Apply for a job at the CIA then run away
Meet lots of vulnerable women and cut their hair
Use vodka as a primary first aid tool having received mortal injuries
Receive mortal injuries
Why constrain domestic appliances to domestic use; domestic violence anyone?
Make sure you have an ample number of passports at hand all with different names
Crash many times, and if someone else crashes at the same time choose not to shoot them in the head
When in doubt, turn to revenge
Say sorry once every couple of years
Listen to Moby when you finish something