Jason Bourne shoots people while listening to “Better Gardening” podcasts. How cool is that?
I don’t know about the rest of the world—it’s probably the same—but here in Oz, whenever a new franchise movie is due to hit the cinemas, the local TV stations do a run of the previous releases.
With Jason Bourne recently hitting the screens (that’s the name of the movie—Jason Bourne—they really put their creative heads together for that one) the entire Bourne series got a run, but I only caught the last two movies, The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Legacy.
No surprise, there’s a common theme through all the Bourne movies. Jason is an ex-CIA (or something) operative who’s more than a bit pissed off with having been tortured, shot at, abandoned, betrayed, ignored and never getting his own parking space at Langley with “Dangerous Dude” painted on the ground—and he wants some kind of retribution or score settled. It has this “you’re forcing me to kill everyone, so it’s not my fault” vibe happening, too. So despite JB being a psychopathic, highly-trained government assassin who’s gone off the rails, he’s one of the good guys.
The people trying to kill Jason are the good guys, too—temporarily turned bad, because Jason’s being so anal and annoying about the whole getting tortured, no car park space thing—and they have this bewildering level of access to every camera, traffic light and satellite ever launched, tracking Jason’s every step to a ridiculous degree. You’d think they probably have a camera inside the toilet in the Big Brother House. Unthinkable, I know, but…
I get that Bourne movies border on super-hero status and you’re not supposed to question the more fantastic aspects, but you can’t help being a bit “WTF?” about the silly amount of electronic surveillance. Despite this, Jason does the usual tricks of wearing an alfoil hat to avoid detection and being attractive to female operatives who should probably shoot him to get a Christmas bonus—but don’t—and he escapes to live unhappily ever after, or until the next film.
Which is The Bourne Legacy and well confusing, because Jason Bourne’s not bloody in it. Matt Damon once said he’d quit doing Bourne films, so I spent the first half-hour or so trying to decide if our new hero, Jeremy Renner, was actually supposed to be Jason Bourne or not (James Bond movies have been switching lead actors for years, so…), but it turns out that Renner is another nameless, super-secret, invincible government spy, but the good guys have gone feral again and want to kill him, too (they’re not keen on think-tanking different options, it seems) before Jason Bourne puts out a blog about the fucked-up CIA mission statement debacle and spoils everything. I found myself muttering dark, naughty words at the same absurd depiction of electronic surveillance that can see and hear absolutely anything. Then again, I really want one of those special microphones, so I can hear my wife talking to me when she’s got her head inside a cupboard, or the fridge, or she’s at the other end of the house and gets pissed off when I inexplicably don’t hear her… (blokes in a relationship know what I mean). But anyway, The Bourne Legacy also has Rachel Weisz dressed in a blue singlet, so anything else can be overlooked. And the way the bad guy gets killed in the end is cool.
Then I tried watching Eye In The Sky, a movie with the starring role owned by a total electronic surveillance concept, supported by a grumpy Helen Mirren as a British Army colonel who wants to use a drone strike to blow up a house in the slums of Nairobi, a place filled with suicide bombers and Public Enemy Number One type villains. Problem is, a ten-year-old girl sells bread outside the house, and the moral debate rages about possibly killing the girl for the greater good of wiping out the evil fuckers inside. As the increasing surveillance reveals the level of the threat rising, the tension and arguments go up as well. There’s another subtle theme—that the UK and US will responsibly target terrorists and wait until the bastards go to the toilet, so the air force can pop a cruise missile through the dunny window, whereas anyone else (meaning the Russians) waits until the terrorists go to the shithouse—and carpet-bomb the whole town. But that’s by the way.
When an African operative sat outside the house in question (in the ‘burbs of low-rent Nairobi, remember—hardly an internet hotspot) and used his smart phone to operate a remote-controlled, miniature drone disguised as a flying beetle—and beams the vision in real-time to Mirren in London, who subsequently uses facial-recognition software to instantly identify the bad dudes… well, that hit my for fuck’s sake threshold and I gave up. Nail-biting stories and moral dilemmas aside, that sort of uber-technology shit just annoys me. Lisa sat through the rest of it and reckons the film wasn’t all that bad—pretty amazing for her, considering John Cusack wasn’t in the cast, so it can’t have been all bad.
Okay, maybe the powers-that-be can do this stuff. Maybe the CIA can watch Jason Bourne scratch his arse anytime it wants and Helen Mirren can virtually buzz around the house rafters in deepest, darkest Africa and not bump into the ceiling fan, but it’s kind of hard to believe. Mind you, I suppose it doesn’t do any harm for the Bad People of the world to think it can be done.
It’s no wonder we’re all a bit paranoid. The other day I inadvertently went In through the Out door of our local chicken takeaway—and panicked for the rest of the day expecting the Chicken Shop Police to take me away… scary shit.
Maybe the movie industry needs to go back to the good ol’ days? When surveillance meant a decent pair of binoculars and bugging the next room needed a wine glass held against the wall. It could collectively lower our expectations of all those super-secret spy organisations. People won’t be so quick to blame the government when shit happens.
And I can go back to buy chicken with chips and gravy again.
If you enjoyed this blog, please share it. Don’t be scared to sign up to my newsletter to receive further notifications only about my writing, music and blogs – I have no affiliations with any Nigerian banks.
If you want to read a free spy thriller… ah, without a spy, but lots of guns and car chases, try Twice As Dead. Links below.