Bourne is back
Damon reprises spy role in fifth movie of series
Alegendary spy returns, with his full name in the film title. In Jason Bourne, the fifth action spy thriller from the Bourne series, Matt Damon — who plays the protagonist, a former CIA assassin— not only has to escape CIA hit squads but also look for hidden truths about his father.
Speaking in Beijing on Tuesday while promoting the film, which opens on the mainland on Aug 23, the 46-year-old says he believes that Bourne is a spy who represents the current generation.
“It (the film) is not related to James Bond, who has values from another time.”
He says that Bourne’s relevance is what persuaded him to be the protagonist, and that is why the franchise — which hit the big screen in 2002 — has become one of the most-acclaimed spy series in cinematic history.
The first three episodes — The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) — are all listed among the all-time best 250 films by China’s major film website, Douban.com, based on user ratings.
Damon did not participate in the fourth installment, The Bourne Legacy, in 2012. Feedback for that film was lukewarm. It got 6.7 out of 10 points on Douban.
Interestingly, Damon keeps saying the “last three” instead of “four” when he refers to the previous Bourne films in the interview.
Speaking of the latest film, Damon says: “It’s a completely different world we’re living in, compared with nine years ago. The landscapes, characters running through, are entirely new.”
Akey part of the new story is a fictional social-media website.
“We want to have characters that are relatable to everybody,” he says.
“In 2007, some social media companies didn’t exist, but privacy versus (national) security is a major issue now.”
Some news events from recent years also find a place in the plot.
For instance, in Jason Bourne, the story is set in an era after Edward Snowden leaked classified information on US national security. The European debt crisis is also portrayed through a massive protest in Athens.
“We had a complete script on Day 1 (of filming ), which we never had before,” he says.
He adds that there were no complete scripts when filming for the previous Bourne films began.
The team this time comprised many of those who had worked with the series before.
“It felt very lucky ... that we got back to do this together,” he says.
Paul Greengrass, the director of the second and third films, was also back for the newinstallment.
In a previous interview, Damon had said that he would not do any film related to Bourne if the director was not Greengrass.
Meanwhile, some new stars have become part of the Bourne story. The cast this time includes American veteran Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassel, a French actor well known in the Englishspeaking world.
Alicia Vikander, the Swedish actress who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress earlier this year for the biographic romance The Danish Girl, plays Heather Lee, a CIA team leader, who turns from Bourne’s adversary into his ally.
Speaking of her debut in the Bourne saga, she says: “It’s a joy being able to go into a big franchise.
“And with the questions and ideas of today (in the film), it feels it (the franchise) has reinvented itself.”
Speaking of the romantic angle in the film, Vikander says while filmgoers often take it for granted that the male and female protagonists in Hollywood action films will fall in love, Jason Bourne is an exception.
“That (the romance) is what people expect, but I think it (the film) should always give audiences something new and fresh. The relationship between Heather Lee and Jason Bourne feels like something I haven’t seen before,” she says.
Also, the open-ended conclusion of the film offers many possibilities for their relationship to progress.
So, does that mean there is a sequel on the horizon?
Vikander is tactful here, saying: “If there is another film being made, I would be extremely happy if I was invited.”
he actress, 28, first hit the headlines for the Danish historical drama A Royal Affair (2012), a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. But she has also done sci-fi and Hollywood action blockbusters in recent years, including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Ex Machina and an upcoming sequel of the Tomb Raider, in which she plays Lara Croft.
But, despite her choices, Vikander does not plan to say goodbye to art-house and historical dramas.
“If you do those big films, it gives you the freedom and ability to do smaller films and tell smaller stories that you are passionate about. That (arthouse films) is still something I want to do and am doing,” she says.
Damon is also famed for his versatile performances on screen, including thrillers, art-house films and comedy.
“I don’t think there is a genre that I wouldn’t be happy to do,” he says.
“It really depends on who the director is.
“The technical stuff is easy, but the director is everything.”
Damon recently worked with Chinese director Zhang Yimou on the fantasy epic, The Great Wall. Speaking of a future for Bourne in China, he does not rule it out.
“We don’t know where we would go,” he says.
“But he (Bourne) is a world character, and … part of the fun is that he can turn up anywhere. And, he can certainly end up here (in China).”
Matt Damon and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander promote the upcoming film JasonBourne in Beijing. The film will premiere on the Chinese mainland on Aug 23.
Matt Damon plays the protagonist in JasonBourne, the fifth spy thriller of the Bourne series.