After watching The Bourne Ultimatum again (this time with my wife), I am even more convinced and intrigued by Mere-O reader Nobody’s analysis of it:

But after two movies of witnessing his superior abilities and knack for escaping any situation, he’s acheived a legendary status that distances him from the audience and lessens the suspense since there’s little doubt the machine-like Bourne will come out on top. This reputation for invulnerability is further reinforced by the CIA’s own reminders to its analysts that Bourne is unlike anyone they’ve ever faced before.

So, given the apotheosis of Bourne, it’s inevitable that Ultimatum’s most exciting sequence is a low-speed pursuit on foot in which the hero has to remotely talk an espionage-naive journalist through a complicated attempt to lose a gaggle of tailling CIA agents. Since the death of his companion early on in Supremacy, he’s had nothing to lose for the last half-movie or so, but with Bourne graduated to guardian angel, Paddy Considine finally provides the audience with a vulnerable character to worry about as his disorientation recalls that of Bourne at the beginning of the series. Unfortunately Ultimatum never again recaptures the excitement of the most non-kinetic sequence in the film.

It’s interesting that the apotheosis of a character means that the drama surrounding him depends upon his protecting and enabling those who are, well, less-than-divine. Jason Bourne is, in this sense, an agent of grace who uses his virtual omniscience and omnipotence for a lesser being’s sake–and does so entirely within the constraints of the movie.

The fact that drama in movies depends upon the mortality of the characters is not surprising. After all, the drama of wedding vows depends upon the possibility of betrayal, just as the drama of sports depends upon the possibility of losing.
But it does raise interesting questions about our understanding of the world and God. While we have, in a limited sense at least, seen the end of the film–the Resurrection–the drama of the Incarnation depends upon the fact that Jesus can in fact die. But he does so voluntarily–while external forces can kill him, he is so powerful that they can do so only, as it were, with his permission (hence his reminder to Peter that he could call down legions of angels if he wished).
If there is to be a fourth Bourne film, it is this decision that he must face. Within the confines of the movie, sacrifice is the only dramatic option left for Jason Bourne. For the omnipotent to play the main part in a drama (as opposed to a supportive role, as Bourne is in while protecting the weaker journalist) and have it still be dramatic, he must play the part of the sacrificial lamb.

(Update:  broken link fixed!)

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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