5 Reasons Anyone Could Defeat the CIA in the Bourne Trilogy
You can inject new life into virtually any film or franchise by watching it again, only this time rooting for the bad guys. Really think through the scenario from their angle, and try to break down how they go about taking on the hero. More often than not, you'll find yourself scratching your head, or outright screaming at the screen.
For instance, take Matt Damon's Bourne trilogy. There's no doubt Jason Bourne is a badass, but the sloppy and frankly baffling strategy the evil government agents employ makes us think that any of us would have had a better than even chance of getting away.
Let's take it step by step:
Why Not Just Let Jason Bourne Go?
So, these films are about a brainwashed assassin (Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon) who breaks free from his programming. The secret CIA team who created him of course then has to kill him...
"Who sent you?"
"Your boss! He really misses you! Like, a lot!"
Wait, do they?
Once free, what Bourne wants most of all, is to be left alone. He tells them this again and again. Yet time and time again the CIA and the secret assassin program insist on dragging this one-man death machine back into their lives. Why? What good ever comes from it?
You could say that the issue was secrecy, but Bourne could have exposed everything at any given moment just by going to the press, and he didn't. We know why, too -- Bourne has dirty laundry of his own (remember he was an assassin, and had killed multiple dudes in shady assassination operations). Can you imagine the relief when they found out that he just wants to go away somewhere and bang his hot German girlfriend without a care in the world? Let him!
Just let the man retire with Lola. What's the big hoo-hah?
But, no. They just can't let the guy go.
Let's look at the most inexplicable example. In the third film, it comes out that the main bad guy (Deputy Director of the CIA, Ward Abbott) is under investigation. It turns out that he had stolen money from the CIA in the past. He finds out that a trade is being made by the CIA for evidence that would incriminate him.
So, he hires some assassin to ambush the trade, kill everyone involved, and then plant Jason Bourne's fingerprints in order to frame him for it. He then sends the assassin after Bourne to kill him (SPOILER: This fails).
But also don't put all your chips on a near-sighted sniper
So the question is, of course, WHY BOURNE?
WHY? OF ALL PEOPLE ON EARTH? AFTER EVERY MINUTE OF FILM IN THE FRANCHISE HAD BEEN SPENT ESTABLISHING THAT HE IS THE MOST DEADLY HUMAN BEING ON HE PLANET?
Abbott is a CIA bigwig who obviously has unlimited recourses and can surely pick any patsy he desires. Why choose the guy who through two films had completely wrecked every effort thrown his way? The guy who literally killed his way to Abbott's doorstep just to tell him that all he wants is to be left alone?
We can think of one reason, and one reason only:
So there'd be a third movie.
You're welcome, suckas.
But even if their motives made sense, their technique certainly doesn't.
If At First You Don't Succeed: Try, Try, Try, Try, Try Again!
Their attempts to take out Bourne always happen like this: They figure out where Bourne is, they send a single assassin of presumably equal knowledge and strength after him, and then sit back and wait for some kind of confirmation that he has been taken out. Every single time Bourne ends up either brutally murdering the assassin or evading him in some way.
Or torturing them with office supplies
And damn, the people behind the secret assassin project (Operation Treadstone) really fall in love with that technique of sending their other CIA programmed assassins after Bourne, even though it fails again and again and again. Each time Bourne takes one out, the bad guys cry in frustration... and then send another lone assassin after him because THIS TIME it's gonna work, DAMNIT! They do this five freaking times through three films! FIVE TIMES!
We're no strategy experts, but it seems reasonable that after, say, the first two beatings it might be prudent to perhaps, we don't know, send more than one assassin after the little shit. Anything really would be better than what you are doing now, especially after you consider when Bourne gets the head of the secret project at gunpoint he is told, "You're a malfunctioning 30 million dollar weapon!"
"And Robin Williams was better than you in Good Will Hunting!"
Thirty million. From this it only makes sense that each of these assassins must have cost about as much as Bourne. See where we are going with this? Remember how many CIA super solders Bourne took out? Now multiply. 150 MILLION DOLLARS has been burned using this same technique of sending dudes one at a time. That's not counting the one guy Bourne took the liberty of killing on his own.
This equals three elementary schools
This is made all the more frustrating considering...
Related: Nice Try, Baby Sonic.
Bourne Really Doesn't Seem All That Hard to Find
So, Bourne is a 30 million dollar weapon. This weapon has a brain and two legs, so surely that kind of hardware would come with one hell of a tracking system to keep him from getting away, right?
"GPS condoms? Brilliant!"
Presumably the extremely easy-to-locate gadget taken out of Bourne's hip at the beginning of the first film was a tracking device, but if so, not only was it the most poorly hidden tracking device ever, but it was also the most overlooked, considering that it never gets brought up by anyone ever again. A freaking $50,000 sedan has more tracking built in. Not only is Bourne worth 600 of them, but he can murder absolutely everyone if not controlled.
With that in mind, consider the third film, where Bourne uses an old CIA-issued fake passport to hightail it back to the US. We repeat, Bourne flies into the US and isn't stopped by anyone, and his old passport works and hasn't been flagged or anything even though he's considered world's most wanted criminal terrorist security threat-slash-superweapon.
And did we mention that Bourne doesn't even try to change his appearance once during all of these films? Not even a beard? Frankly by the time Bourne decides to break into CIA headquarters by walking directly through the front door, we're not even surprised anymore.
Any effort would have been nice
Though we guess they don't just have a blind spot for Bourne. In The Bourne Ultimatum, a reporter comes across a CIA leak who is willing to divulge everything about the secret assassin project and Bourne himself. In his excitement, this reporter calls a colleague and in the conversation mentions the code word "Blackbriar," which enables the CIA with their sneaky spy tech to not only pick out the word, but identify whose cell phone the word was spoken on almost instantaneously.
See, that is the kind of high-tech shit we expect to get deployed to find a dude who costs as much as a fighter jet and can kill his bosses if not found. Now we're talkin'!
But then Bourne meets up with the reporter and slips him a pre-paid cell phone so the CIA can't listen in on their conversation. Bourne then instructs him step-by-step on how to evade his followers. Pretty stupid move there, Jason! Didn't you just read the last two paragraphs? These people can pinpoint a cell phone from a single keyword! All they have to do is search for either the reporter's name or your name and they got your conversation in no time! Right?
Virgin Mobile - more powerful than the goddamned CIA
No, it turns out that the concept of prepaid cell phones completely baffles the CIA, sending them into a panic and yelling at each other about not being able to listen in. Hey, calm down guys! You just did this!
But, no, instead they manage to lose Bourne and shoot the reporter -- the only person who knows who the leak is -- right in the head. While doing this they also make sure to stick out like a sore thumb.
This is what the CIA thinks Tourists look like
This really brings up a bigger issue...
The CIA Has Severe Staffing Problems
Here is a typical encounter with the Treadstone/CIA henchmen. When Bourne tracks the aforementioned CIA leak to an apartment at the same time as a team bad guys, Bourne manages to trick them with a flashlight taped to an osculating fan. Seriously, the agents clumsily fall for it like they are the goddamned Wet Bandits from Home Alone.
This is typical of the faceless killers sent off to hunt Bourne, shown here practicing the old "Swing-through-a-frosted-window-while-blindly-shooting-in-the-air technique:"
But really the staffing issues are apparent even in the top-tier positions. For instance, meet Nicky Parsons, a field agent who works at Treadstone's French headquarters:
She does sort of Save The Last Dance for Mr. Bourne.
She appears to be the only employee of Treadstone France (put in charge of literally everything from assassinations to crime scene cover-ups) which means she's terribly overworked for someone who looks like they were recruited strait out of elementary school.
Although she did get to regionals with her jr. high's assassination team.
You could say that maybe she's just some kind of super spy prodigy, but in the second movie Bourne interrogates Nicky at gunpoint and she cries like a little girl watching her kitten get run over, before folding to Bourne like a kitten getting run over.
Oh yeah, also in the third film it is revealed that Nicky had a previous intimate relationship with Bourne before he lost his memory, so this whole time her bosses also saw no reason why they shouldn't keep Bourne's emotional ex on board while they hunted him down and tried to kill him.
Speaking of her bosses...
The CIA Has Severe Management Issues
These problems really do go right to the top. First you have the aforementioned Deputy Director of the CIA, Ward Abbott:
And under him you have the head of the super secret Treadstone mind controlled assassin program, Alexander Conklin:
There is a scene in the first film, The Bourne Identity, where Abbott is questioning Conklin about a failed assassination attempt. Conklin reminds his boss that he had previously promised to "never ask a direct question" pertaining to the project, to which Abbott replies: "You've never screwed up before."
Really, we feel like the whole failure of the secret cabal to kill Jason Bourne can be traced back to that extremely ineffective management technique. Imagine this was the established policy at your job. "Steve, we will never ask you what you're doing unless and until something goes disastrously wrong. Now do your thing!"
It's the classic never-look-at-the-tire-gauge-until-after-the-tire-explodes technique. Though maybe that's not a strong enough analogy considering this is a project based around brainwashing and programming super solders for illegal assassination missions.
But logic isn't cool.
In the end, this particular employee/employer relationship between Conklin and Abbott breaks down considerably when Abbott has Conklin shot in the middle of the street. That's why this movie should be shown in every business class as a "what not to do." If you ever are at the head of a project, or have people working under you, drop in on them every once in a while. Ask to see their work. Don't let things get so bad that you have to murder them.
Deputy Director Abbott continues to employ the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bosses when one of his employees later approaches him in secrecy to reveal evidence that suggests amnesiac-riddled agent Jason Bourne has been framed. Faced with an employee who is so loyal that when he suspected a possible internal affair he came to him and no one else, Abbott of course stabs him to death.
The whole thing culminates in Abbott making a Scooby Doo confession to Bourne, who records everything. Abbott then he blows his own stupid brain all over the wall.
Worst management skills ever.Find out why The Greatest Movie Villain Ever is a 'Good' Witch, or order the new Cracked Book, the only place you can read Seanbaby's rundown of 5 Fight Moves That Only Work in the Movies.