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A franchise is 'Bourne'

Robert Ludlum is dead, but the films must go on.

August 08, 2004|Lisa Rosen | Special to The Times

We are in serious danger of running out of Bournes. According to the ad campaign, "The Bourne Supremacy" may be "the start of a powerful adult franchise" (David Poland, Movie City News). But Robert Ludlum wrote only "The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum."

True, after Ludlum's death, the saga has continued, with author Eric Van Lustbader's "The Bourne Legacy" (St. Martin's Press, 2004). But books don't get cranked out quickly, and judging by the crowds at "The Bourne Supremacy," Hollywood isn't going to be patient.

Besides, if the first two movies are any indication, not a whole lot of the book is going to wind up on the screen, so why wait for a whole tome when a title will do? A few movie titles out there simply beg to be converted into Bourne adventures, giving everyone's favorite agent the liberty to roam where he wants. In fact, perhaps he could be:

'Bourne Free'

Jason Bourne finds out he was raised by a pride of lions in the African veldt, which is where he picked up his unnatural stealth and killer instinct. His joyful reunion with adoptive mother Elsa is marred because she's in captivity at the Big Apple Circus in New York. There's a subplot involving a rogue agent, a European man with bad hair, and a few million dollars, all of which gets resolved in a shadowy and incomprehensible yet incredibly exciting manner, with the help of a fleet of attack helicopters flying through the Lincoln Tunnel. In the end, Jason sets Elsa free, at which time she kills and eats several government officials or circus clowns (it's hard to tell which) and disappears into Central Park.

'Bourne Yesterday'

Jason moves to D.C. and gets a job as a tutor for the mistress of a rogue senator with fake hair. Bourne soon learns a few lessons of his own in black ops, Beltway-style: partisan politics, bureaucracy and ruthless backstabbing. Shaken, he returns to the CIA; it's less stressful.

'Bourne Innocent'

Jason goes deep cover as operative Janice Bourne (for which actor Matt Damon, known for his slightly obsessive attention to detail, gets breast implants). He is sent to a female youth facility, where he faces down some of his scariest enemies: mean girls!

'Bourne on the Fourth of July'

Jason, paralyzed by a rogue agent, becomes an anti-CIA activist with bad hair. A randy old operative (Willem Dafoe) takes him to a Mexican brothel for some differentlyabled carnal delights that evolve in a shadowy and incomprehensible yet incredibly exciting manner. A chase ensues, and Bourne's wheelchair hits 90 mph on the sidewalks of Tijuana.

'Bourne to Run'

The producers turn to rock anthems for inspiration in this chapter of the saga, which finds our hero in New Jersey for reasons he can't remember. Bruce Springsteen's lyrics provide the clues to his next mission: Get some serious wheels, avoid getting the bones ripped from his back by a rogue trying to look so hard, find a girl named Wendy, strap her hands 'cross his engines, get the hell out of town, and go walk in the sun somewhere. This title has the advantage of its own sequel, "Bourne in the U.S.A.," by the same author.

'A Star Is Bourne'

An aging agent Jason, losing his edge and drinking heavily, encounters a young, sassy assassin -- played by either Kate Hudson or Natalie Portman with a bad perm -- just coming up through the ranks. Through his haze, he sees his younger self in her and shows her everything he knows to help her climb the ladder of hitperson success. But deep down, he knows he's holding her back. So in a selfless act of love, coupled with the pursuit of a rogue hairdresser, he drives off the Golden Gate Bridge in a souped-up PT Cruiser and drowns. In a poignant last scene at the annual Spook Awards Show (oh yes, they do have them), Natalie or Kate accepts the killer-of-the-year trophy. Smiling bravely, she says, "My name is Mrs. Jason Bourne," which doesn't make much sense because they never got married. No matter. The audience rises to its feet in a hearty ovation anyway. But is someone watching from a rooftop through a sniper's scope?

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