Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Bourne Supremacy -- Who was I?

Director: Paul Greengrass, 2004 (PG-13)

The Bourne Identity closed with a pseudo happy ending. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and Marie (Franke Potente) reconnected on a Greek island. This positively utopian picture of relational bliss carries over to the sequel. Now Bourne and Marie are enjoying the almost idyllic life of a couple, living on the beach in Goa, southern India. But Bourne is haunted by fragments of memories that show up in his dreams, which he records in a journal. One page of this journal summarizes the key theme of this installment: Who was I? His past won’t come into focus. He knows who he is: Jason Bourne, but not really who he was.

This life is shattered when a killer, Kirill (Karl Urban, Star Trek) comes after Bourne. Senses heightened for self-preservation, Bourne notices and a car chase ensues. When Marie is killed, Bourne’s life of passivity is over. He is back in the saddle, once more chasing and being chased. He is after the killer while the CIA is after him.

An early scene has a CIA operation in Berlin, supervised by Pam Landry (Joan Allen), go badly wrong. With two agents down, and Bourne’s fingerprints literally all over the kill, the Americans think their rogue agent is back with a vengeance.

The film is much like its predecessor. Back are Brian Cox as Ward Abbott, the mastermind behind Treadstone, as well as Julia Stiles as Nicky Persons, the CIA agent from Paris. The high-octane action moves from India to Berlin and onto Moscow, with scenes in New York and Washington interspersed so we know what is going in with the CIA hunt. This time the principal car chase occurs in Moscow, and director Paul Greengrass uses hand-held cameras to give a documentary-like feel to the film. Despite this, the film feels slightly inferior to the original. But Bourne does finally find out who he was.

Who was he? You’ll have to see the film to find this out. But the question resonates as a follow-on question to that asked in the first film, Who am I? We all want to discover our identity. To find out who we are, we must first find out who we were.

Who was I? Again, the Bible answers this question. As we look in the mirror of its pages, we discover a dark secret: “we were God’s enemies” (Rom. 5:10). The apostle Paul paints a gloomy picture, much like the camerawork in this film: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1). He goes on, “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). And the psalmist puts it even more bluntly: “Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psa. 53:3). Like our anti-hero killer Bourne and the killers after him, all pursue evil.

If we, like Bourne, find out who we were and realize we dislike what we see, what can we do? Do we, simply try to bring closure to one or more events in our past and then move on? Do we reconcile ourselves to a life lived in fear, always looking over our shoulder for the enemy? Or is there a solution to our dilemma? Can we make peace with God and with ourselves? We may find the answer in The Bourne Ultimatum.

Copyright ©2013, Martin Baggs 

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