Novel: The Bourne Identity Film: The Bourne Identity
Novel: The Bourne Enigma Film: Jason Bourne
Richard Chamberlain Matt Damon Jeff Pierce (Video game only)
David Webb (real name) (Identity) Delta One Cain/John Michael Kane Nicolas Lemanissier Charles Briggs George P. Washburn Foma Kiniaev Mr. Cruet (Supremacy) Paul Kay Adam Stone
Jason Bourne is a fictional character created by novelist Robert Ludlum. Bourne is the antihero in a series of fourteen novels (to 2016) and subsequent film adaptations. He first appeared in the novel The Bourne Identity (1980), which was adapted for television in 1988. The novel was very loosely adapted in 2002 into a feature film under the same name and starred Matt Damon in the lead role.
- Operation Treadstone
- Written by Robert Ludlum
- Written by Eric Van Lustbader
- Video games
- Franchise overview
The character originally featured in three novels by Ludlum, released between 1980 and 1990, followed by nine novels written by Eric Van Lustbader since 2004. Along with the first feature film, The Bourne Identity (2002), Jason Bourne also appears in two sequel movies The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), both with Damon again in the lead role. Jeremy Renner stars in the fourth film of the franchise, The Bourne Legacy, released in August 2012. Damon stated in interviews that he would not do another Bourne film without Paul Greengrass, who had directed the second and third installments. Greengrass agreed to direct Damon in the fifth installment in the franchise, Jason Bourne. Greengrass jointly wrote the screenplay with editor Christopher Rouse.
Jason Bourne has a tormented past, which continues to influence him throughout his lifetime. Jason Bourne is but one of many aliases used by David Webb. Webb is a career foreign service officer and a specialist in Far Eastern affairs. Before the events in The Bourne Identity, Webb had a Thai wife named Dao and two children named Joshua and Alyssa in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia (in the book series, but not in the film series at present). Webb's wife and two children were inadvertently killed during the Vietnam War when a fighter plane strayed into Cambodia, dropped two bombs, and strafed a spot near the Mekong River. However, unknown to Bourne, Joshua survived. Due to Cambodia's neutrality in the war, every nation disclaimed the plane, and, therefore, no one took responsibility for the incident. Having nothing left to live for, Webb went to Saigon and, under the careful guidance of Alex Conklin, ended up training for an elite Top Secret Special Forces unit called Medusa. Within that select organization Webb was known only by his code name, Delta One.
David Webb's life was slowly consumed by his membership in Medusa. Webb was recruited into Medusa during the Vietnam War by friend and CIA officer Alexander Conklin after the violent deaths of Webb's wife and children. Webb was infuriated by both the utter injustice and randomness of his loss, and he sought revenge by joining Medusa. Initially, Medusa was designed to infiltrate parts of Northern Vietnam, and kill suspected members of the Viet Cong and its collaborators. Medusa was considered an assassination team or death squad. Each member of Medusa was paid for their work performing assassinations for the United States Government.
The members of Medusa were all criminals who were led by a man called Delta. Delta ran Medusa with an iron fist; he became well known for his ruthlessness, his disregard for orders, and his disturbing success rate on his missions, resulting in the kidnapping of Webb's brother, U.S. Army Lieutenant Gordon Webb, during his tour of duty in Saigon.
During the mission to save David Webb's brother, an original "Medusa" team member named Jason Charles Bourne was discovered to be a double agent who alerted a large number of North Vietnamese soldiers to their whereabouts. When Delta found Bourne after killing his way through the North Vietnamese, he simply executed Bourne in the jungles of Tam Quan. Bourne had compromised the secret rescue of Gordon Webb. Bourne's murder by Delta was never exposed due to the Top Secret status of Medusa.
Years later, a black ops arm of the CIA was formed to eliminate the notorious Carlos the Jackal and called Treadstone Seventy-One, named after a building on New York's Seventy-First Street, and Webb was called up by the creator of Treadstone and Medusa, David Abbott, who was nicknamed The Monk, (short for The Silent Monk of Covert Operations) to be its principal agent. At this point, Webb (Delta) takes the identity of Jason Bourne due to the actual Bourne's status as MIA in the war as well as the fact that Bourne was in reality a ruthless killer with a long criminal record. The point of all this was to turn Jason Bourne into something more than he really was, a contract assassin who would be known all over the world for terminating the lives of just about anyone. The assassin's alias was Cain. The reasoning for creating such a myth was to create competition for the well-known assassin named Carlos, or Carlos the Jackal (real name Ilich Ramírez Sánchez) who at that time was considered the world's best and most famous assassin. The name Cain was chosen because it had some significance for what he was doing. During Vietnam, Cain was used instead of Charlie in the phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot...) because Charlie became synonymous with Viet Cong. So Delta dropped back one letter to Cain, which stood for Charlie. In Spanish, Charlie is Carlos; Carlos was Venezuelan. The myth of Cain was created by having Cain take credit for any well-publicized killings that took place in Asia, and later in Europe, regardless of the circumstances. By creating this myth, Cain was to drive the reclusive Carlos out in the open "long enough to put a bullet in his head". To add insult to Carlos's name, Cain stole the credit for Carlos's kills, even when Cain had no part in them.
In the film series, Jason Bourne was born as David Webb on September 13, 1970 in Nixa, Missouri (although in Ultimatum, he was given a false date of April 15, 1971, in order to lure him on a specific site). He joined the United States Army and was eventually selected for Delta Force in 1998. His father, Richard Webb, a senior CIA analyst, was the official creator of the Treadstone program, a black ops project intended for elite assassins. He was monitored by the CIA and joined the program after his father was murdered by a car bomb in Beirut, which was arranged by the CIA in order to push Webb in the program.
After his father's death, Webb approached the CIA and was brought into the program by Neil Daniels, a supervisor in the Treadstone program, and was monitored by Dr. Albert Hirsch, who supervised the medical assessment of the Treadstone agents. He was brought into a secret recruitment center in New York City, where he was tortured for days, being drowned in a water tank and deprived of sleep, with Hirsch intending to break his spirit in order to mold him into a future assassin. He was officially accepted when he murdered an unidentified man (implied to be the real Jason Bourne) without questioning. After that, he was given a new identity as Jason Bourne, and his old, real identity was dropped.
After heavy training, where he was taught several languages and has mastered several martial arts skills, he was placed in the Treadstone program, supervised under Alexander Conklin, who managed the program and its missions. His first assignment, an unofficial one, was in Berlin, Germany, where he assassinated Vladimir Neski, a Russian politician who was intending to expose the theft of 20 million dollars in black funds stolen from the CIA by Treadstone's Director, Ward Abbott, and a Russian oligarch, Yuri Gretkov, and was under Conklin's direct supervision, murdering Neski and his wife and arranging it as a murder-suicide.
Bourne worked in the program for 3 years, considered to be the top agent of the program due to his capability to completely adapt to his surroundings, lateral thinking and ability to execute assassinations that looked like genuine accidents. He was stationed in Paris, France, maintaining a secluded life while performing assassinations, mostly around Europe. His official handler was a logistics agent, Nicky Parsons, also stationed in Paris, and implied to have a sort of a romantic relationship with, although kept secret from his Treadstone employers.
A key moment in his life came when he was ordered to murder Nykwana Wombosi, an exiled African warlord who was blackmailing the CIA into reinstating him back as head of his state or else he will expose several CIA secrets. Using an alias of John Michael Kane, he gathered information on Wombosi and managed to infiltrate his yacht. He infiltrated the yacht and hid inside it for 5 days, surfacing on a cold night in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, intending to arrange the murder to look like he was killed by a crew member to avoid suspicion. However, Wombosi was surrounded by his children, and Bourne was unable to bring himself to kill him. He tried to abandon the mission by leaving the boat, but an unknown shooter shot him twice in the back, sending him off the yacht into the sea and triggering amnesia, causing Bourne to forget his identity.
The series has included twelve novels which have been written by two authors, Robert Ludlum and Eric Van Lustbader. Ludlum's series include the first three books, dubbed the Bourne trilogy. After Ludlum's death in 2001, Lustbader took over the character in his own series of novels, which span nine books so far, with a tenth (The Bourne Enigma) currently being completed.
Written by Robert Ludlum
The Bourne Identity (1980)
A man is found floating unconscious in the Mediterranean Sea near Marseille by Italian fishermen with two gunshot wounds in his back. He wakes and discovers he is suffering from extreme memory loss. Film negative embedded in his hip leads him to a bank in Zurich where he learns he is known by the name Jason Bourne. As he tries to reclaim his memory, Bourne attracts the attention of hostile people for reasons unknown to him. At a hotel, while cornered, Bourne takes a young woman, Marie St. Jacques, hostage to escape. Marie is an employee of the Canadian government. Bourne and Marie discover that "Jason Bourne" is the cover identity of a contract assassin, and that both the CIA and another contract killer known as Carlos the Jackal have an interest in him. Marie is convinced that this man she has come to know cannot be the ruthless killer that all their discoveries seem to imply. She compels Bourne to continue searching for his true identity and, in the end, he finds the truth. Through this time, Bourne has the phrase "Cain is for Charlie, and Delta is for Cain" continually flash through his mind, propelling him in the direction of his mission.
The Bourne Supremacy (1986)
Having recovered his memory and retired from the CIA, David Webb now teaches Asian studies at a university in Maine and lives with Marie. She is taken captive seemingly by a powerful Chinese drug lord, but in reality, by the United States government using the fictitious drug lord as cover. The scheme is an attempt to turn Webb back into his former self, the mythical Jason Bourne, to go after a Bourne impostor in China. The phony Bourne has been credited with a Far East political assassination that could, in a worst-case scenario, cause a Chinese civil war over the ownership of Hong Kong.
The Bourne Ultimatum (1990)
As Carlos the Jackal enters old age and his infamy fades, he decides that he will do two things before he dies: kill Jason Bourne and destroy the KGB facility of Novgorod, where the Jackal was trained and later turned away. Webb's family is forced to hide in the Caribbean while Webb himself works with old friend and CIA officer Alex Conklin to hunt down and kill the Jackal first. Webb poses as an important member of Medusa, now a nearly omnipotent economic force that controls the commander of NATO, leading figures in the Defense Department, and large NYSE firms. The plan is to use Medusa's resources to contact the Jackal. Webb just misses the Jackal several times before Webb feigns his own death and convinces the Jackal that he has succeeded. Following this, the Jackal turns to his second goal. Webb tracks the Jackal down with the help of Conklin and a KGB agent as the Jackal begins destroying the KGB compound. In a final confrontation, the Jackal is led into a dam lock in which he drowns and Webb returns to his family.
Written by Eric Van Lustbader
The Bourne Legacy (2004)
With the climactic events of The Bourne Ultimatum behind him, Jason Bourne is able to once again become David Webb, now professor of linguistics at Georgetown University. However, this serenity does not last for long. When a silenced gunshot narrowly misses Webb's head, the Bourne persona reawakens in him. His first objective is to reach his long-time friend and handler at the CIA, Alex Conklin. However, unknown to Bourne, a Hungarian by the name of Stepan Spalko has now drawn Jason into a web—one which he cannot escape as easily as his professional façade. And the man who nearly killed him in Georgetown continues his deadly, intensely personal pursuit.
The Bourne Betrayal (2007)
Jason Bourne takes a mission to rescue his only friend in the CIA, Martin Lindros, who disappeared in Africa while tracking shipments of uranium. Once safely back in America, Lindros persuades Bourne to help track the money trail of terrorists buying the nuclear material in Odessa. But once there, Bourne is hampered by confusing flashbacks of unfamiliar places and events and he wonders if someone is brainwashing him in order to throw him off the trail, or worse, if the man he saved in Africa is really Martin Lindros. Now, Bourne must gather evidence while trying to stay one step ahead of the terrorists who won't let anyone stand in their way.
The Bourne Sanction (2008)
Jason Bourne returns to Georgetown University, and the mild world of his alter ego, David Webb, hoping for normality. But, after so many adrenaline-soaked years of risking his life, Bourne finds himself chafing under the quiet life of a linguistics professor. Aware of his frustrations, his academic mentor, Professor Spector, asks for help investigating the murder of a former student. The young man died carrying information about a group's terrorist activities, including an immediate plan to attack the United States. The organization, the Black Legion, and its plot have also popped up on the radar of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose new director Veronica Hart is struggling to assert her authority. Sensing an opportunity to take control of the CIA by showing Hart's incompetence, National Security Agency operatives attempt to accomplish what the CIA never could do, hunt down and kill Jason Bourne. In Europe, Bourne's investigation into the Black Legion turns into one of the deadliest and most tangled operations of his double life—while an assassin is getting closer by the minute.
The Bourne Deception (2009)
Bourne's nemesis, Arkadin, is still hot on his trail, and the two continue their struggle, reversing roles of hunter and hunted. When Bourne is ambushed and badly wounded, he fakes his death and goes into hiding. In safety, he takes on a new identity, and begins a mission to find out who tried to assassinate him. Jason begins to question who he really is, how much of him is tied up in the Bourne identity, and what he would become if that was suddenly taken away from him. Meanwhile, an American passenger airliner is shot down over Egypt by what seems to be an Iranian missile. A massive global investigative team is assembled to get at the truth of the situation before it can escalate into an international scandal. Bourne's search for the man who shot him intersects with the search for the people who brought down the airliner, leading Bourne into one of the most deadly and challenging situations he has ever encountered. With the threat of a new world war brewing, Bourne finds himself in a race against time to uncover the truth and find the person behind his assault, all the while being stalked by his unknown nemesis.
The Bourne Objective (2010)
The Bourne Objective is the eighth novel in the Bourne series, and the fifth written by Eric Van Lustbader. The book was released in 2010, sequel to The Bourne Deception. The killing of an art dealer dredges up snatches of Jason Bourne's impaired memory, in particular the murder of a young woman who entrusted him with a strangely engraved ring. Now he's determined to find its owner and purpose. But Bourne never knows what terrible acts he'll discover he committed when he digs into the past. The trail will lead him to a vicious Russian mercenary, Leonid Arkadin, also a graduate of the Central Intelligence training program Treadstone. The covert course was shuttered by Congress for corruption, but not before it produced Bourne and Arkadin, giving them equal skills, equal force, and equal cunning. As Bourne's destiny circles closer to Arkadin's, it becomes clear that someone else has been watching and manipulating them.
The Bourne Dominion (2011)
Jason Bourne is searching for an elusive cadre of terrorists planning to destroy America's most strategic natural resources—and needs the help of his longtime friend, General Boris Karpov. Karpov, the newly appointed head of Russia's most feared spy agency, FSB-2, is one of the most determined, honorable, and justice-hungry men that Bourne knows. But Karpov has made a deal with the devil. In order to remain the head of FSB-2, he must hunt down and kill Bourne. Now, these two trusted friends are on a deadly collision course. From the Colombian highlands to Munich, Cádiz, and Damascus, the clock is counting down to a disaster that will cripple America's economic and military future. Only Bourne and Karpov have a chance to avert the catastrophe—but if they destroy each other first, that chance will be gone forever.
The Bourne Imperative (2012)
The tenth book in the series was published on June 5, 2012. The man Jason Bourne fished out of the freezing sea is near death, half-drowned and bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound. He awakens with no memory of who he is or why he was shot, and Bourne is eerily reminded of his own amnesia. Then Bourne discovers that the Mossad agent named Rebeka is so determined to find this injured man that she has gone off the grid, cut her ties to her agency, and is now being stalked by Mossad's most feared killer. The answers to these mysteries may lie back in southeast Lebanon, in a secret encampment to which Bourne and Rebeka escaped following a firefight weeks ago. The complex trail links to the mission given to Treadstone directors Peter Marks and Soraya Moore: find the semi-mythic terrorist assassin known as Nicodemo. In the course of Bourne's desperate, deadly search for a secret that will alter the future of the entire world, he will experience both triumph and loss, and his life will never be the same. Now everything turns on the amnesiac. Bourne must learn his identity and purpose before both he and Rebeka are killed. From Stockholm to Washington, D.C., from Mexico City to Beijing, the web of lies and betrayals extends into a worldwide conspiracy of monumental proportions.
The Bourne Retribution (2013)
The eleventh book in the series was published on December 3, 2013. Bourne's friend Eli Yadin, head of Mossad, learns that Ouyang Jidan, a senior member of China's Politburo, and a major Mexican drug lord may have been trafficking in more than drugs. Yadin needs Bourne to investigate. Bourne agrees, but only because he has a personal agenda: Ouyang Jidan is the man who ordered Rebeka—one of the very few people Bourne has ever truly cared about—murdered. Bourne is determined to avenge her death, but in the process he becomes enmeshed in a monstrous worldwide scheme involving the Chinese, Mexicans, and Russians. Bourne's desperate search for Ouyang takes him from Tel Aviv to Shanghai, Mexico City, and, ultimately, a village on China's coast where a clever trap has been laid for him. Bourne finds himself pursued on all sides and unsure whom he can trust.
The Bourne Ascendancy (2014)
The twelfth book in the Bourne series was published on June 10, 2014. Bourne has been hired to impersonate a high-level government minister at a political summit meeting in Qatar, shielding the minister from any assassination attempts. Suddenly, armed gunmen storm the room, killing everyone but Bourne. Their target, however, isn't the minister Bourne impersonates....it is Bourne himself.
Kidnapped and transported to an underground bunker, Bourne finds himself face-to-face with an infamous terrorist named El Ghadan ("Tomorrow"). El Ghadan holds as his captive Soraya Moore, former co-director of Treadstone, and a close friend to Bourne, along with her two-year-old daughter.
Meanwhile, the President of the United States is in the midst of brokering a historic peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians—an event that El Ghadan is desperate to prevent. He demands that Bourne carry out a special mission: kill the President. If Bourne refuses, Soraya and her daughter will die. Bourne must make a monstrous choice: save Soraya and her daughter, or save the President.
In 1988 a two-part made-for-television movie of The Bourne Identity aired on ABC. It starred Richard Chamberlain in the role of Jason Bourne and Jaclyn Smith as Marie St. Jacques. The TV movie was largely faithful to Robert Ludlum's novel, both in plot as well as in the portrayal of the character of Jason Bourne.
The Jason Bourne novels were adapted into a series of films – The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Bourne Legacy (2012), and Jason Bourne (2016). The films retain the titles and some base elements but otherwise feature different plots independent of the novels. In these films, Bourne is portrayed by Matt Damon.
Bourne does not appear in The Bourne Legacy, with the exception of his picture being featured in the film as well as brief discussions of how he's caused problems to the organization he worked for. As a result, the film focuses on the fallout in the intelligence community from Bourne's actions in Ultimatum. Legacy features Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, an operative in a different clandestine program evolved from Treadstone.
A video game titled Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy was released in 2008 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The Ludlum estate obtained the rights to the video game franchise and sold it to Electronic Arts in 2009. EA planned to make several Bourne games. Their first game was to have been developed by Starbreeze Studios, but has since been shelved.
Radical Entertainment were reportedly developing a Bourne game titled Treadstone after a former animator of the now-defunct developer released a rough test reel, but it has since been canceled.
The Bourne franchise consists of several novels, movies, and a video game, all featuring one of the several versions of the Jason Bourne character.