At the end of 2007’s ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, a heavily-injured Jason Bourne dived into New York’s East River and swam off into the deep blue yonder to the sounds of Moby. Now, in 2016, he’s pulled himself out of the water and is prepared to risk his life in all new and exciting ways in fourquel ‘Jason Bourne’. Stunts seem high on the agenda, judging from the trailer and the number of cars that are trashed on the Vegas strip during a textbook Jason Bourne Sunday drive, so to celebrate we’ve rounded up the most dangerous and thrilling stunts performed to date in the Bourne saga.
A Mini adventure – ‘The Bourne Identity’
Back before we knew Jason Bourne was a forced to be reckoned with, he had a lot to prove – and minds were instantly put at ease after the outstanding early car chase through the streets of Paris. The choreography is insanely good but made even better by the fact that Bourne’s car is a tiny Mini – all the better for squeezing through the narrow cobbled streets of the French capital. The highlight of the chase sees Bourne’s Mini nosedive down a flight of concrete stairs; if Jason is ever driving your car and says “We’ve got a bump coming up,” you’d best start hoping you have insurance. Accomplished stuntman Romain Thievin won a Taurus Award – the Oscars of the stunts world – for his work on this movie, including the Paris chase, specifically the shot of a motorcycle impacting a car at high speed and flipping 360 degrees.
The pen is mightier than the knife – ‘The Bourne Identity’
When Bourne was assaulted from out of nowhere by an operative in the first movie, he had to improvise, having no weaponry to hand. As his knife-wielding foe drew closer, the only thing JB could grab from the desktop was a humble, run-of-the-mill biro – who knew you could basically kill someone with a pen? Bourne proceeds to run holes through his opponent, first through his palm, then in his neck, then he jams it in between the poor bugger’s knuckles. The ink barely has time to enter his bloodstream before Bourne breaks his arm and his leg in the resulting scrap. Damon performed his hand-to-hand combat scenes himself after training for three months in the martial art of Eskrima, a Phillippino fighting style based specifically around – gulp – stabbing.
Underwater car crash – ‘The Bourne Supremacy’
The opening sequence of the series’ second movie sees Jason Bourne and his girlfriend Marie take an early bath, as Karl Urban’s sniper takes out their car and they sink into a murky river. Damon really did take a deep breath and take the plunge. “I didn’t want to do that at all,” he said. “I had to go to a pool with this great stunt guy a couple of times a week for a month or so to train me to relax underwater without an oxygen mask.” The stunt, though it looked authentic, took its toll. “That night I woke up probably four times gasping for breath, thinking I was drowning,” recalls Damon. “It was terrible.”
Moscow motorway mayhem – ‘The Bourne Supremacy’
The centrepiece of Paul Greengrass’s ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ sees Bourne pursued by Karl Urban’s Kirill – or is it the other way around? – through the dour streets of Moscow, Bourne driving a bright yellow and conspicuous taxicab, Kirill in a Jeep. The two go at it like dodgems, caring little for the twisted metal they leave in their wake or the points they’re likely to rack up on their licences. The chase comes to an abrupt end when Bourne rams Kirill’s 4×4 into a central pillar in an underground tunnel – and you can practically feel your teeth rattle every time car collides with concrete. But the really amazing part? To make it look as though Damon was the driver, the car’s actual stunt driver was situated on the roof of the car while steering.
Window jump – ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’
It’s the greatest tailored-for-trailer movie moment ever: the sequence which sees Jason Bourne run full pelt off a rooftop balcony and smash through the glass window of the house on the opposite side of the street. It was actually Damon’s stuntman who performed the leap and not the actor himself – although he performed many of his own stunts, the movie’s legal team were quite insistent he not die – although the brave jumper was swiftly followed off the balcony by a handicam operator attached to a rig to give the leap that extra vertiginous quality. The leap through the window was real, but the shattering glass was added with CG in post-production.
Manila motorcycle chase – ‘The Bourne Legacy’
Despite the fact that Matt Damon was not willing to return as Jason Bourne, that didn’t stop Universal releasing another Jason Bourne movie, with Jeremy Renner stepping in as Bourne stand-in Aaron Cross, with Rachel Weisz as his love interest. The highlight of the movie is a thrilling motorcycle chase through Manila, as Renner and Weisz weave in and out of traffic and even do a Tony Hawk-esque grind down a stair-rail. “I was way out of my comfort zone,” says Weisz. “You need a lot of takes and your body starts to rebel. You do get some aches and pains. Sometimes you have to look completely desperate and after take 30, you don’t have to act any more because you are feeling that way.” Weisz had literally never been on a motorcycle before the shoot. “The scariest thing you can do in the stunt world is be a passenger on a bike,” confirmed Stunt Co-ordinator Dan Bradley.
‘Jason Bourne’ is released on 27 July 2016.