When compared to the lethality of somebody like John Wick or James Bond, super-spy Jason Bourne is almost a pacifist. But when Bourne, or one of his fellow assassins, chooses to kill, they do it right. They think on their feet, and they absolutely do not stop until they get their target or their target gets them.
The assassins of Bourne’s world can transform their very environments into an arsenal of deadly weapons that they can use with perfect accuracy and zero hesitation. The franchise may not fire many bullets but that’s because the characters usually only need one. Here are some of the most impressively creative kills in the Bourne franchise.
10 The Maneuver (The Bourne Supremacy)
Pursued by Karl Urban’s corrupt FSB agent through the streets of Moscow, and already shot in the shoulder, Bourne steals a taxi cab and begins one of the most enjoyably destructive escapes in cinematic history. Once Bourne sees that Urban’s character (who murdered his romantic partner at the beginning of the film) is the one who’s gunning for him in a black 4x4, the car chase becomes a full-blown car battle.
Spun backwards and pinned between the opposing 4x4 and the wall of a tunnel, Bourne shoots through his own door to take out the 4x4’s front tire. This allows him to regain control of the situation and pivot the 4x4, so it’s now sideways and locked in front of his cab. Bourne proceeds to then ram the 4x4, and its occupant, directly into an oncoming concrete divider. Both the maneuver and the placement of the automotive battle in the third act finale have become somewhat of a tradition in the Bourne movies and it’s easy to see why.
9 Toweled Off (The Bourne Ultimatum)
At the culmination of a daring rooftop chase through the streets of Tangier, Bourne leaps from one building to the next. He crashes through a window to face CIA assassin Desh before he can kill franchise favorite character, Nicky Parsons. The ensuing fight scene is probably the most commonly cited example of how anything can become a weapon in the hands of Jason Bourne.
After some impressive acrobatics and hand-to-hand fighting from both parties, Bourne picks up a nearby book and proceeds to block and beat Desh with it. Using the hardback’s large spine to press into his windpipe in an attempt to suffocate him. When this fails, the action moves into the apartment’s tiny bathroom where Bourne transforms a humble hand towel into an instrument of strangulation.
8 Droning The Dog (The Bourne Legacy)
Jason Bourne isn’t the only impressive action hero of the franchise. Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross may have only been featured in one film to date but he’s more than held his own against all that the CIA can throw at him. After narrowly escaping the missile of a Predator drone sent to kill him, and shooting it down with only a high-powered rifle, Cross deduces that it’s only a matter of time before they send another to finish the job. This is where it gets really creative.
It’s established earlier in the film that a pack of wolves has been pursuing Cross for some time across the Alaskan wilderness. He decides to make some use out of them. Cross knows that the drone found him because of tracking devices embedded in his skin, so he surgically removes his and baits a trap with the blood from the wound. Sure enough, the wolves find him and he’s able to snare one and tackle it. After forcing the wolf to swallow the tracking device, he lets it loose and scares it off. This way, the replacement drone blows the wolf up instead of him, and his enemies think that he’s dead. Cross even sends his wolf nemesis off with a one-liner: “You should have left me alone.”
7 The Pinky Pistol (The Bourne Identity)
Any action hero can dispatch bad guys while firing a gun in each hand but only Jason Bourne can dispatch bad guys while firing a gun in each hand while one of the guns is upside down. Realizing a squad is on its way to kill him, Bourne intercepts a heavy goon breaking through the front door. He disarms him and shoots him in the leg with his own gun. Then he takes out another in the stairwell with both his new weapon and the one already in his hand.
Bourne fires his newly acquired weapon upside down with his pinky finger pulling the trigger. Working in tandem with his original weapon, which is a dark tactical black and held correctly, he fires it perfectly in sync with his new one, which has a light silver finish and is upside down. This creates an odd allusion to the famous yin yang symbol. It perfectly represents Bourne’s calm precision and balance in the face of overwhelming odds.
6 Riding the Fat Man (The Bourne Identity)
At the end of Bourne’s stairwell shootout, he spots a final opponent running up the stairs with an automatic rifle. Knowing that the odds are against him, Bourne makes one final, and daring, play to end the conflict. Listening for the footsteps of the would-be assassin, Bourne waits and perfectly times his move for maximum accuracy. When the moment comes, he launches himself into one of the most bizarrely effective finishing moves of not just the Bourne franchise, but action movies in general.
Bourne kicks the body of the goon he disarmed and shot moments earlier through the railing of the stairwell. He then rides the body down the middle of the stairwell. His fall places him in the perfect position to headshot the approaching henchmen before landing on the original goon’s body. Whether the physics behind any of this works at all is something immediately overshadowed by how entertaining it is. It might be one of the Bourne movies’ silliest kills, but it’s also one of the most unique.
5 Fully Loaded Magazine (The Bourne Supremacy)
The audience rarely gets to see much interaction between the various “assets” of the Bourne world. Beyond them trying to kill one another, that is. A long conversation takes place between Bourne and Marton Csokas’ Jarda. He claims to be the only other surviving Treadstone agent. However, it very quickly descends into them trying to kill one another.
Jarda goes straight for a kitchen knife. Bourne takes the most immediate option available to him and rolls up a magazine to form a powerful baton. Successfully disarmed of the knife and wrestling with Bourne on the floor, Jarda attempts to strangle Bourne with a power cord, only for Bourne to reverse the move and kill him. Which just goes to show that you should never give Jason Bourne ideas about how to kill people.
4 One Perfect Shot (The Bourne Ultimatum)
Out of all of the staggering aspects of Paul Greengrass’ Bourne sequels, the most consistently impressive feat of the movies was how huge crowds were manipulated for the on-location shoots at some of the biggest sites (in some of the biggest cities) in the entire world. One of the most impressive of the entire franchise being the sequence shot at Waterloo train station in London, where Greengrass had to use some creatively deceptive tactics in order to get the shots he needed at the location.
After nursing terrified Simon Ross through a packed Waterloo station and taking out the grab team sent to abduct him, Bourne almost has both of them in the clear. But Edgar Ramirez’s CIA “asset” is lying in wait in an ingenious sniper location just behind a Trivision billboard. He executes Ross with a flawless headshot through the rotating slats of the billboard. Bourne notices the hiding spot too late. He pursues but fails to catch the wily assassin, making Ramirez’s character the only adversary to ever outfox Jason Bourne.
3 Life Extinguisher (The Bourne Legacy)
In what is probably the most Home Alone-ish of all of the kills in the Bourne franchise, Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross is pitted against four armed government agents in his effort to protect Rachel Weisz’s scientist from a murderous cover-up. In the scene, he improvises a truly creative contraption from surrounding household items in order to gain the upper hand.
Pursued by an agent with a submachine gun, an unarmed Cross searches for an advantage over an opponent with significantly more range than he has. Spotting nails on the ground, he creates a makeshift nail-gun by placing nails into the nozzle of a fire extinguisher. The shot incapacitates his enemy from a distance before he moves in for the final beatdown.
2 Death by Prescription (The Bourne Legacy)
Set primarily during the events of the third act of The Bourne Ultimatum, the plot of The Bourne Legacy is driven forward by a brutal cover-up of the programs which birthed the lethal assassins of the Bourne franchise. Spearheaded pragmatist Eric Byer, a group of scientists must erase evidence of their misdeeds before it leads back to them.
The main problem that the antagonists face is that most of the evidence linking them to their crimes is designed to be extremely deadly. In an elegantly simple move, every agent is assassinated simultaneously by poisoning. By simply calling agents for a routine chat with a handler they know, each one is given a poison. They believe it’s merely the next stage of their chemical treatment. Blissfully unaware, the agents effectively kill themselves.
1 The Pen Really Is Mightier Than the Sword (The Bourne Identity)
Bourne’s first worthy opponent of the franchise is one of his most memorable. A fellow agent of the Treadstone program, Castel literally bursts onto the scene through a window with his machine gun blazing. Bourne’s fine-tuned instincts allow him to be ready for the attack and to turn the tables quite quickly, though.
As the fight progresses through Bourne’s apartment, we see Bourne coming to grips with his own fighting instincts. Castel makes a last-ditch effort with a knife. Without even flinching, Bourne retaliates with a flimsy plastic pen to devastating effect. With both an arm and a leg broken, Castel has no choice but to kill himself before Bourne can beat information out of him.