ByDena Pech, writer at
Award winning screenwriter. Storyteller. "What a man can't remember doesn't exist for him."
Dena Pech

We all know Jason Bourne and who he is — or do we? He's the amnesiac spy who kicks all sorts of major ass, while trotting the globe looking for more ass to kick ... but how well do we know him when "Jason Bourne" is completely different somewhere else?

It all began with .

Robert Ludlum’s first Bourne adventure was published in 1980. Ludlum came up with the idea about an amnesiac spy when the author suffered a bit of memory loss of his own.

The Bourne Identity was adapted twice — once as a TV movie, and later as the famous feature film with Matt Damon, which modernized the spy genre when it debuted in June of 2002. Although it never made it to No. 1 at the box office, it remained in the top 10 for the majority of the summer, cementing Matt Damon as an action star.

The Bournes Richard Chamberlain & Matt Damon [Credit: ABC/Universal]
The Bournes Richard Chamberlain & Matt Damon [Credit: ABC/Universal]

Although the film is loosely based on its source material, Doug Liman's film adaptation updated Bourne for today’s audiences. Although it deviated to a great degree, the heart and soul of Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne is still there. Let's take a look!

Jason Bourne From The Book

During the Vietnam War, David Webb was a family man working as an American foreign service officer. Jason Bourne was a briefly described double agent who was killed by David Webb during his run as a special forces operative. David took the name when he joined the infamous Treadstone program.

Jason Bourne was found in the Mediterranean Sea by a group of fishermen — with several gunshot wounds and massive head trauma. He had a film negative in his hip that contained a bank account number in Zurich.

Treadstone believed that Bourne had betrayed his country, and therefore, attempted to hunt him down and kill him. To clear his name, Bourne used Marie to escape the clutches of his enemies and remained one step ahead. The two, eventually, fell in love.

Richard Chamberlain is Jason Bourne [Credit: ABC]
Richard Chamberlain is Jason Bourne [Credit: ABC]

Although fighting to remember pieces of his past, Bourne couldn't help but be the soldier he was. He felt compelled to hunt down the terrorist Carlos the Jackal (a fictional take on the figure), who turned out to be his rival. The two men eventually had a showdown. After their brief fight in the Treadstone safe house, Carlos got away. Bourne was injured, but was saved at the last minute.

The book closed with Bourne remembering his real name, and his legacy began.

Jason Bourne From he Movie

Jason Bourne was found in the Mediterranean Sea by a group of fishermen. He had two bullet wounds on his back, and a laser-pointer in his hip that projected a bank account number in Zurich.

After his short recovery, Bourne traveled to Zurich, which caught Treadstone’s attention. With Treadstone being a CIA black ops program, Alexander Conklin had to try and eliminate Bourne. After the first attempt, Bourne successfully escapes. He met Marie shortly after, and she agreed to drive him to Paris for a huge sum of cash.

Jason Bourne has no rival in the movie, but deals very well with every assailant sent to kill him. The first arrived in his apartment in Paris. From there, Bourne and Marie found themselves on the run.

After killing a fair share of CIA operatives, Bourne finally confronted the man behind Treadstone, Conklin. His former superior unleashed an insufferable amount of information to Bourne, and the fragments of his memories were restored. Although learning who he was, Bourne realized his mistakes and wanted out.

The film closed with Conklin murdered. Bourne found solace with Marie, but the CIA continued to look for him.

What Was Better In The Book

Bourne was very vulnerable in the book. His memories held him back, yet his patriotic duty kept fighting with him. He would whisper to himself throughout, which showed how much it was troubling him:

"Alpha, Bravo, Cain, Delta ...

"Cain is for Charlie, and Delta is for Cain.

"Get Carlos. Trap Carlos...

"Kill Carlos!"

Giving Bourne a rival was a major factor that was missing throughout the films. Bourne wasn't always on the run, but rather the hunter. Although widely entertaining, the Bourne movies had the same formula, with Bourne always being chased. The latest entry, titled Jason Bourne, also falls into this formula.

The best part of Jason Bourne is his inventiveness, and the book went into detail on how the character thinks before taking action.

What Was Better In The Movie

What the film captured so well — that the book couldn't — was the relationship between Bourne and Marie. She did live quite longer in the books than in the movies, but her presence in the first film left a better impression.

When Bourne kidnapped Marie in the book, she was forced out of her normal life and into Bourne's world. Bourne was relentless in keeping her as a shield, beating her in the process to keep her quiet.

Bourne and Marie [Credit: Universal]
Bourne and Marie [Credit: Universal]

In the film, Marie was desperate, broke and just needed a kick of good luck. Bourne noticed her hardship and found a way to help her out. The most entertaining part of the movie is the bond between the two lovers. The film portrayed the two as lost souls, and when they found each other in that alley outside the bank, it was very satisfying.

In a way, the film showed how the characters saved each other's lives by meeting. It humanized Jason Bourne. Even though Marie was killed off in The Bourne Supremacy, her life meant more than everything else in Bourne's life, and he only smiles when she is on screen with him. Go ahead, see if Bourne smiled without Marie. He doesn't.

I was a fan of the original book. The movie had the heart and soul of the character, yet almost everything else was originally written for it. And that's okay, because some things worked in the movie better than the book, and vice versa.

Have you read The Bourne Identity? Is there anything that I left out that was important? Let me know, comment below!


What was the name of the assassin who fought Bourne in his apartment?


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