Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Bourne Supremacy, by Robert Ludlum

(pb; 1986: second book in the Jason Bourne series)


Nine years have passed since the events of The Bourne Identity, and Bourne, now called David Webb (his real identity), is living in Maine, (somewhat) enjoying the sedate life of a college professor – he's still tormented by just-out-of-reach memories, memories that are violent, dark and rooted in Vietnam War-era Cambodia, but he's less volatile these days. A big reason for that is Marie St. Jacques, who became his wife shortly after the first novel, is with him and has borne him a six-month old son, Jamie.

Alex Conklin, Webb's former CIA-handler-turned-enemy, is back, also, this time as Webb's friend. Morris Panov, a blunt psychiatrist, is also is in Webb's life, helping Webb recover his memories – and his sense of well-being.

Much of that is shattered when a Kowloon massacre is falsely linked to Webb/Bourne. It appears that there's an assassin on the loose, one using Bourne's moniker. Not only that, he's targeted Webb/Bourne's family, as well...

The action of The Bourne Supremacy doesn't kick in immediately; Ludlum uses the first few chapters to set up Webb/Bourne's (relative) peace of mind before blowing it to bits. The story, then, kicks into high gear, with Webb/Bourne going back into the jungle, literal and otherwise, and battling corrupted (or misguided) political powers-that-be, brutal killers, as well as his own past.

Ludlum saddles Webb/Bourne with a dual personality, and it sometimes reads awkwardly. The Webb aspect of Webb/Bourne is shaken at the thought of returning to the violent life, worrying himself sick about Marie and Jamie. The Bourne aspect is ruthless and calculating, constantly telling the Webb aspect to shut up so he, Bourne, can do what he needs to do to win this death game. Despite the occasional awkwardness, this makes Webb/Bourne read like a real person, if a wildly conflicted one.

The action, of course, is slick-cinematic and exciting. The twists are still fresh and believable.

And the ending, with its many unanswered questions, is satisfying, while providing enough material for the next two Bourne novels, the first of which is The Bourne Ultimatum.

The Bourne Supremacy hit stateside movie screens on July 23, 2004.

Matt Damon reprised his role of Jason Bourne. Franka Potente reprised her role of Marie St. Jacques. Brian Cox reprised his role of Ward Abbott. Julia Stiles reprised her role of Nicolette "Nicky" Parsons. Gabriel Mann reprised his role of Danny Zorn.

Joan Allen played Pamela Landy. Karl Urban played Kirill. Michelle Monaghan played Kim. Tom Gallop played Tom Cronin.

Paul Greengrass directed the film, from a script by Tony Gilroy.

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