Gouda Buddha Books

Devouring books since 2009.

The Bourne Ultimatum.

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The last book in the Bourne Trilogy is by far my favorite. Fitting that the last movie in the series is also the one I like best. Though again, like the second part of the series, the plots have a similar overarching structure: Bourne finds that the government program that created him has spawned an “upgrade” which is being used for even more sinister purposes than the first. Other than that, totally different characters, totally different plot. The film goes back to explore certain elements of Bourne’s training, which is something covered by the first book. I like that sense of continuity, that they’re retracing their steps – so to speak. And in the world of the movies, it totally fits. It’s an updated world, one which doesn’t have the Vietnam War as a training ground, so the explanation of “How did this guy happen?” requires more of an explanation. It also is the “hook” to draw you in – the movies are more about Bourne’s identity and the government’s role in his creation, which is a much more current sort of thriller. The books were still written during the Cold War and focus much more about the government’s role in foreign activities and how those manipulations created the scenario for Jason Bourne.

While the second book was written with the backdrop of the 1997 Sino-British treaty for the exchange of Hong Kong in the background, the third book is in many ways even more specific. The KGB figures prominently into the plot, which gives it a very familiar sort of dated feeling. It’s the world that I grew up in, the world where the bad guys say “Da” and eat borscht. (Also, the movies gave this a nod with a significant portion of the second film taking place in Moscow.)

The main plot point in the movies is Bourne’s identity. In the books, it’s his nemesis: Carlos the Jackal. Carlos doesn’t have an equivalent in the movies, which is fair, the singular hunt for one specific terrorist is not only a dated idea thematically, it leaves a sour note given that our government is totally inept at this one and were reality any indication, the film would end with the terrorist in a cave and the hero just standing around in Washington giving reports to the effect of “I have no idea.” Not that this series has much to do with reality, but just to say that it’s not a plot that would go over well with current audiences.

Anyway, I bring up Carlos just to say that whenever “The Jackal” is mentioned in the books, which is often, I can’t help but think of “The Jackal” scene from The West Wing.


Written by Sonja

January 16, 2009 at 1:42 pm

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