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The Bourne Ultimatum


The first & the last – he that liveth & was dead

Stories about spies turn on the plot about betrayal, teaching justice by teaching about the dangers of breaking the laws. The fact that everybody in the story has broken the laws, or lives as if laws do not apply to them forces us to ask who is good & who is bad without implying that the good defend, uphold or at least obey the law. Now, a story ends when good guys or the bad guys get the good or the bad.

Justice requires that all get what they deserve & so the story teaches us how they earn that. Unfortunately, Bourne is fickle. Now he wants revenge – now he does not. His private happiness destroyed – which was not happiness – he returns to undo those who would undo him – but he does not. Perhaps he again wants to learn how he came to be – but he does not. Perhaps that is important – but it is not.

How do all these reversals occur? Flippantly. How does Bourne’s recognition alter the plot? It hardly matters, for he survives by accident. His decision to spare his assassin does not cost him his life, but it was made before he remembered his origins. Had he killed his assassin, rather than live at his mercy, he might have finally shown he can take care of himself.

Bourne must die at the end of this story, because murderers cannot be happy & he does not see the justice in his work as a spy. Bourne faces the dark necessity underlying the peace of the city – that the law is an envious monster, as someone said. Idealism pushes Bourne to deny assassination is necessary. He ludicrously believes in his innocence, as murders multiply. The problem with the CIA is not assassinations, but the lack thereof. Bourne’s solution was killing his enemies from beginning to end: how can he disown it & live?

The resolution turns on three events. First, Bourne spares his assassin, who then has a chance to kill Bourne, but would rather ask an inane question, being apparently puzzled. Apparently, assassins are inquisitive fellows… Second, Bourne learns he was a murderer, an evil man. His punishment is a private life & the love of another pretty woman. Apparently, monstrous acts are to be rewarded, if successful. Third, the creepy men who torture & destroy whoever annoys them emerge unscathed. Congressional hearings commence – but the credits roll.

Justice did not make the cut. What is the wages of sin then? This is the anguish of liberalism: It dares not say who must be killed for our peace, it therefore convicts our way of life as unjust, & then it hopes to survive by ignoring ugly truths…

The much acclaimed end of the trilogy.

Go Here to Read the Review of The Bourne Identity.
Go Here to Read the Review of The Bourne Supremacy.
Go Here to Read the Review of The Bourne Legacy.