January 26, 2022

Jason Bourne: who is his strongest opponent in the first three films?

In his first three films, Jason Bourne faces several adversaries. Rarely with a firearm, often in a vehicle, and always at least in a confrontation with bare hands, a confrontation which is necessarily one of the summits of the action of feature films. A burning question then: of these adversaries who had to be gotten rid of in close combat, which one was the stronger? A 100% “brawl” article which, for those who have not yet seen the legendary trilogy, contains spoilers.

Jason Bourne, an action thriller revolution

In three films, The memory in the skin (2002), The death in the skin(2004) and The Vengeance in the skin (2007), Jason Bourne has established himself as one of the action heros the most effective. Part of the credit goes to the directors of the three films, Doug Liman for the first and Paul Greengrass for the next two, and the other goes to Matt Damon, performer of the former CIA assassin for four films. One of the qualities of the character is that he evolves during these films, gradually regaining his memory and perfecting his art of fighting and flight, or stalking, depending on the missions he gives to himself. Ignoring his qualities as a fighter at the start of the first film, he is keenly aware of it and therefore more effective very quickly, as the plot progresses.

Released between 2002 and 2007, the Jason Bourne trilogy is a pivot in the history of the spy and action film genre. Three high-quality films, adapted from the novels of Robert Ludlum, which have reoriented the entire industry, having for example had a preponderant influence on James Bond from the Daniel Craig era. More realistic, more brutal, with a perfect anti-hero haunted by a past he does not remember. The fourth and fifth films are unfortunately well below, at best useless, at worst neither done nor to be done …

The memory in the skin ©Universal Pictures

A precise outline for memorable clashes

The first three films Jason Bourne follow the same diagram, that the last two films have considerably weakened by allowing themselves new things without necessity. On the model of the first film, Jason Bourne is systematically found for each of the first three opus in 1 against 1 against another assassin of the program Treadstone – or similar -, a deadly clash whose victory is decided with bare hands (Castel in The memory in the skin, Yard in The death in the skin and Desh in The Bourne Ultimatum).

In addition to this fundamental confrontation, he must also get rid of another agent, whose bullets he is fleeing and / or with whom he engages in a chase with a dramatic outcome. There’s the Professor (Clive Owen) in The memory in the skin. Then Kirill (Karl Urban) in The death in the skin. And finally Paz (Edgar Ramirez) in The Bourne Ultimatum. If these three adversaries are also formidable, their “indirect” confrontation with Jason Bourne excludes them from the question which one asks here, namely what was the toughest melee opponent.

The memory in the skin : Castel (Nicky Naudé)

In The memory in the skin, Jason Bourne gets rid without killing them of several security agents while escaping from the American embassy in Zurich. Arrived in Paris with Marie (Franka Potente), he fights against a first agent, Castel, in a memorable hand-to-hand confrontation. Spotted by the police, he later embarked on a chase aboard a red Mini Cooper, a sequence that has become iconic. Finally, he confronts the Professor, the agent played by Clive Owen, in a gun fight unbalanced and unprecedented, before finally eliminating several much less talented CIA agents in Paris.

The memory in the skin
The memory in the skin ©Universal Pictures

Below, Jason Bourne’s very first clash against another “asset”. It is therefore about Castel, sent to the Parisian address of Jason Bourne by the CIA to eliminate him. This agent is not afraid to go into contact and has power, but does not appear particularly agile. Surprised, our hero fights defensively and seeks above all to hurt his opponent. Remarkable inventiveness, Jason Bourne grabs a simple pen and uses it as a weapon. It should be noted that Jason Bourne, not yet aware of his true identity and overwhelmed by what is happening to him, do not kill Castel but neutralize him, in order to try to make him speak. It is Castel, in a shocking gesture, who throws himself out the window.

The death in the skin : Jarda (Marton Csokas)

First change in The death in the skin, the agent who pursues him, Kirill, is not from Treadstone but belongs to the FSB, the Russian counterpart organization of the CIA. Jason Bourne must escape for the first time when Kirill has found him in India, in Goa. They will meet again in the last part of the film for an insane chase in the streets of Moscow. He does not face this agent in close combat, but reserves this privilege to another agent, Yard, of Treadstone this one, who tries to kill him in Munich.

The death in the skin
The death in the skin ©Universal Pictures

In this clash, Jason Bourne has the advantage of having infiltrated Jarda’s house, thus preceding his arrival. Obviously much more suspicious that during his confrontation with Castel, he seems to have neutralized him first but Jarda is arguably the most cunning of these opponents and viciously starts the fight. Rather very good at close quarters combat, he manages to hold on to Jason Bourne even though his hands are still tied. In Bourne’s hands, no more pen but a tightly rolled magazine to strike, and finally a power cable to strangle his foe. Always so inventive, and still so deadly.

You have to understand that Jason Bourne never kills in cold blood, and that all these fights can be a matter of self-defense (more or less) and the instinct of survival. It is for this reason that the choreography of the main fight of the films passes systematically by disarming the adversary before the confrontation with bare hands or with the help of what Jason Bourne can find around him: pen, magazine, towel, telephone cable… everything becomes lethal in his hands.

The Bourne Ultimatum : Desh (Joey Ansah)

In The Bourne Ultimatum, the repetition of this pattern remains true. Stuck at Waterloo station, he tries to save bullets from a gunman (Paz) a journalist, shot at the last moment, like Marie is at the start of The death in the skin. Then, a motorcycle chase then on foot begins in Tangier where Jason Bourne must both get rid of the police and arrest the trump Desh, who is chasing Nicky. The end of the impressive race through the streets of Tangier ends with the clash of the two men, perhaps the most difficult clash for Jason Bourne.

Finally, the film ends with a chase in New York remake of the Moscow chase. Indeed, Jason Bourne gets rid (almost) of Paz as he got rid of Kirill in La Death in the skin.

The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Ultimatum ©Universal Pictures

At this point in the plot, Jason Bourne has found almost all of these means. But these adversaries are now well aware of the threat he poses to their clandestine activities. They are therefore more prepared than ever. Priority target of the CIA, Jason Bourne is this time as much the prey as the hunter. On his heels, the Desh asset, particularly precise and determined and who eliminates his first target under the eyes of Jason Bourne.

But for the confrontation which follows, it is the hero who is at the initiative of the violence, in an almost “mirror” fight with his first in The memory in the skin. While in this last Castel surprised him by entering through a window, this time it is Jason who surprises Desh … by exploding a window. It is no longer a question of protecting Marie, but Nicky (Julia Stiles), another target of Desh.

Desh superior to its predecessors

More difficult, more extensive too, his fight against Desh remained undecided for a long time. This one is indeed stronger and more agile than Castel and Jarda and Jason Bourne has all the trouble in the world to eliminate him. What he finally manages to do by strangling him – also referring to the fight against Jarda-, with the help of a towel, after having weakened him with great pounding in the face.

Logical progression of the characters, evolution correlated with that of the plot: lhe top of the hand-to-hand clashes is against Desh. Jason Bourne must indeed track him down, protect Nicky and finally face him in his most difficult fight. It is therefore, between Castel, Jarda and Desh, the latter who wins the prize for the strongest opponent Jason Bourne had to neutralize. And rather hands down.