Bourne is back

Da­mon reprises spy role in fifth movie of se­ries

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at wangkai­hao@chi­

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,, 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.

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