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Bourne Again?

(Based on an article by Mike Metzger at

Years ago I read the Bourne trilogy by Robert Ludlum – tremendous stuff, and it was great to see it hitting the big screen. The ‘big’ debate has been “Bourne or Bond?” – for me the answer is Bourne. For those of you not familiar with the story – its about a secret agent who loses his memory and discovers himself in a complex web of deceit in which he searches to find who he really is.

Why is it that the Bourne trilogy has appealed to so many?

Is it just because they are action-packed, high-speed films? Probably. I can’t claim much more than that. Yet, I think one of the reasons it is appealing is because in it you see a character grappling with doubts and uncertainties.

Cast your mind back, if you will, to the
‘Bourne Identity’. One of the taglines for the film asks the question “Who am I?”. Bourne wrestles with his fragmented memory to find out who he is. In the second film ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ Bourne, whilst trying to stay alive, wrestles with the question, “Where did it all go wrong?”. The third instalment, ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, finds Bourne pursuing the answer to “How can I escape what I am?”

These questions resonate with something inside us. That’s part of the draw of Jason Bourne – he’s wrestling with questions about life. He’s not like Bond who wrestles with nothing, other than bad guys and bikini-clad women.

The questions – ‘Who am I?’, ‘What went wrong?’, and “How can what went wrong be put right?’ – are the key questions for every human being to answer. I’m not about to suggest that the Bourne trilogy is a Bible in disguise – but I found it interesting that the Bible echoes these three questions and provides answers.

It doesn’t surprise me. Film-makers seek to find something that will resonate with us (and hence draw us to watch, and give them a bigger pay cheque), and the Bible sets out to answer the deepest longings of the soul – it doesn’t surprise me that these two often match up in surprising ways.

Starting with creation, the Bible addresses the question “Who am I?” and describes how life ought to be. We’re not far into the Bible when we find the answer to the question “What went wrong?” and we see what made the world the way it is today. It takes a little longer to get to the issue of redemption and the answer to, “How can I escape what I am?” and how can things be made better. And the Bible goes one further than Bourne (although the scriptwriters may yet seek to answer the question "Where will Jason Bourne end up?"), and answers the question, “Where will I end up?”.

Jason Bourne may seem larger than life, but his story reflects an even bigger story. The patterns of the cinema screen sometimes reflect the deeper realities of our soul.

How do you answer the questions Bourne raises?