Matt Damon first took the part of Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity, director Doug Liman’s adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s popular series of novels. Over that film and two others -- The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, both directed by Paul Greengrass -- the Bourne films were established as the signature action franchise of the Bush era -- the kinetic action was cut with lots of spy intrigue, as well as intimations that nefarious conspiracies went all the way to the top.
Damon sat out the fourth film in the franchise, the Jeremy Renner-fronted The Bourne Legacy in 2012, but he returns in the eponymous Jason Bourne, which also marks the return of Greengrass to the franchise. But in case you don’t remember the difference between Blackbriar and Treadstone, who Bourne was fighting all those times, or any of the other specifics of the earlier Bourne movies, Matt Damon is here to explain it to you.
Universal has posted a video to its YouTube channel (see above), featuring Damon explaining the plots to the earlier Bourne films in 90 seconds. The new film, written by Greengrass and Christopher Rouse, also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, and Riz Ahmed.
The description is rapid-fire, rather humorous, and unmistakably in Damon’s voice, as it’s hard to imagine the Jason Bourne character using a choice word to describe a certain Russian character, much less a Boston expression like “wicked clever.” He also goes back and forth between using the names of characters (“Marie”) and actors (“Chris Cooper,” “Joan Allen.”) There’s no mention of the Bourne Legacy, the movie Damon wasn’t in, but the clip does end with a few seconds of footage from Jason Bourne.
The video is a good idea, considering that the Damon Bourne movies were a long time ago. It’s been nine years since the last one, and the plots tended to be complicated. And even if you’re a big fan of the films, all of those chase scenes and close-quarters one-on-one fights tend to run together. If you don’t have the spare time to go back and watch the earlier movies before Jason Bourne hits theaters, Damon’s video will save you some time.
The question will be: are audiences eager to revisit the Bourne universe after all this time, especially against the backdrop of a whole other political era? We’ll find out this week.
Jason Bourne arrives in U.S. theaters Friday, July 29, 2016.