Bourne Movies vs Books

Roel M. Hogervorst

2020/08/01

I found the Bourne books (Bourne Identity/ Bourne Supremacy / Bourne Ultimatum) by Robert Ludlum. This is one of the few times I read a book after having seen the movies. And I was super surprised! The books are completely different from the movies. This is of course no news to many people, but it was to me. Fascinating read however. Some names stayed (Threadstone 71 -> Threadstone project, Marie, Conklin, Abbot, Jason, there is still the Gemeinschaft Bank in Geneva) but it is like they used a general framework: ‘Super soldier loses memory and loses control’ and go in an entirely different direction in the movies. And that is fine!

I liked the movies because of the fighting style (Kali I believe) and the fast paced style. Also Jason Bourne talks quite believable Dutch to himself in the mirror on the boat scene at the start! It is very entertaining and Matt Damon is really shining when he accidentally disarms or disables people.

But the books are much slower and Jason Bourne is stumbling around more. Marie in the movie is a German girl that travels around Europe, kind of lost in living from paycheck to paycheck. Marie in the books is an economist from Canada with extensive knowledge of the financial system. She protects Jason and makes sure he doesn’t get f*cked over by the government. Marie in the movies gets dragged along. Marie in the books first too, but she really chooses and gives direction.

The government in the books is much more embarrassed by what is happening and can be scared into doing the right thing. This does not happen at all in the movies. In the movies high ranking governmental employees get killed a lot. And there doesn’t seem to be any shame at all.

And finally Jason is quite different. In the books David Webb became Jason Bourne as a ruse to get a hitman. He has a tragic backstory where his wife and children die in Vietnam, is actually an annalist, becomes a sort of mercenary in an outfit called Medusa, and takes on the role of Jason. In the movies David Webb goes into a super soldier training program where he is getting brainwashed to become Jason Bourne.

Anyways I would recommend the movie trilogy, and maybe the first book too, the second one is a bit meh. I guess it is very much a product of its time, it takes place largely in Hong Kong during the cold war. That just didn’t work for the Bourne movies. And I bet the movie producers did not want to burn their hands on Hong Kong vs Mainland China. I haven’t finished the third book, I got bored.

So musings done, let’s get to work!

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