The Bourne Theory

So, this is a little off topic, as it doesn’t really concern my writing – though it is about writing – kind of.

Just follow me here…

So, as most of my friends know, I really enjoyed the Matt Damon ‘Bourne’ films, based off the Robert Ludlum book series. I’m not going to talk about the books, but rather the films, and a little theory I have about them.

be warned if you haven’t seen the films: SPOILERS AHEAD

And it does have something do with with writing, as it concerns how we take stories we read or watch and then contemplate different directions for them – which has been extremely popular in the age of the internet where we call it fan-fiction. Now, I don’t consider what I’m about to talk about here as fan-fiction, mostly because I’m not going to create a framework for it and write it out as such – but merely posit it as an underlying hidden or implied threat – the true driving force behind the Treadstone Conspiracy.

BourneIdentityfilmIn the first film, The Bourne Identity, we meet a character named Nicky Parsons, played by Julia Stiles. Nicky is a CIA logistics technician living in Paris and serving as a point of contact for Bourne and the other ‘assets’, providing them with target information and location. At the end of the film, Bourne has her at gunpoint, but lets her live.

In the second film, The Bourne Supremacy, Nicky is conveniently brought back in to the story, as she can provide those hunting Bourne about the assets behavior modification therapy and problems that arose, like Jason’s amnesia and headaches. Bourne ‘recognizes’ her from Paris and arranges to be brought in by Nicky, but tricks everyone and kidnaps her to force her to reveal why he is being hunted. Again, he lets her live.

In the The Bourne Ultimatum, Nicky once again just happens to be in Madrid and meets up with Bourne, this time serving as the ‘girl in peril’ and also a hinted love interest of Bourne’s.

Yeah, yeah – so what’s the point?

My point is – through all three films, Jason is trying to get to the heart of why he is an assassin – who is the person behind it all – who started this? They answer that (kind of) in the final film, and in the spin-off film, The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner, imply that it is still ongoing.

So here’s my thought. Nicky is behind the whole thing.

She’s the one who started the program and the one escapes justice – because she manipulates events to ensure she is able to maintain her cover and continue the program.

BourneIdentityNickyfilmWhat’s the evidence? Bourne let’s her live in the first film. The mission Bourne was supposed to carry out (the assassination of Wombosi) ended in failure and Bourne suffering from amnesia. Nicky, as Bourne’s handler in Paris, would have been the one to tip off Conklin, the “head” of Treadstone in the U.S. and which sparked the whole manhunt/clean-up project to begin with. She would of course want the loose ends tied up because, nothing could or should lead back to her. However, after Jason lets her live – she realizes he doesn’t recognize her or remember her at all. She will use this to her advantage as the story progresses.

Nicky’s kind of a throwaway character in this film, just a cog in larger, darker machine. She is also shown to be very scared or uncomfortable around the assets – look at her reaction to Clive Owen, and her terror when Jason invades the office at the end. What we will see, especially in the third film, is that she has a lot more going on behind her eyes then most people are aware of…

BourneSupremacyNickyfilmIn the Bourne Supremacy, Abbot (revealed as the real head of Treadstone) is supposedly covering his tracks to hide dirty money he and Conklin stole from the CIA as seed money to fund a Russian oil mobster. Nicky’s connection? She’s the one who tips off Landy about the Neski files, leading to the exposure of Abbot’s dirty dealings, simply to further distance herself as a suspect in the Treadstone debacle. As we all know, the more tangled the web, the more intrigued we are by spy/conspiracy stories 😉

And most damning of all (in my theory anyway) is Nicky’s ludacris appearance in the third film – from a story-telling perspective there is no reason for the character to be there. From a film-going perspective, it ties in with the other two films so I know why the writers/director/producers had Nicky in the film. But from a story-telling perspective – it could’ve been anyone. But it also is what sparked my theory so, I’m glad she showed up 🙂

Nicky shows up at the offices of Neil Daniels the CIA liaison who helped recruit David Webb/Jason Bourne into the Treadstone Black Ops program.

Why? She claims to have been posted there. My thought? She arrived to take Daniels out herself. Look at her face and reactions when dealing with Bourne. She’s calm, calculating. Last time we saw her she was cowering in a bathroom, crying and pleading for her life. Now here she is – again. And this time she goes on the run with Bourne. We even get a scene of her hinting at her deeper involvement with the recruitment/conditioning program Bourne went through – the language implies they had an intimate relationship, but Bourne has no memory of it. Nicky is safe from him. She calmly follows Bourne and to ensure that Daniels is removed, but her cover is too good and she finds herself a target. She runs and escapes the assassin with Bourne’s help.

BourneUltimatumNickyfilmThen in a really twisted move, she modifies her look to further scramble the wires in Bourne’s head by altering her hair color and cut to resemble Marie’s (Bourne’s love interest in films one and two) from the first film – proving she is a master at head games. Or possibly because she fancies Bourne, in true femme fatale fashion. Why? All to ensure that Bourne continues his one man war on Treadstone and to eliminate any possibility of her being caught.

Look at her subtle grin at the end when it is implied that Bourne is still alive. She knows she is safe – and that she can use Bourne again in the future.

I know, really really flimsy. Especially when you consider Nicky’s youthful appearance – she’s too young to have risen high enough in the CIA to become the head of a Black Ops program. Considering how the films swerve off into almost superhero territory (admittedly really low-powered superhuman) considering some of the abilities the Treadstone assassins exhibit, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for us to learn that Nicky has altered her looks to keep herself looking like a twenty year old. But still, really flimsy when it comes to a willing suspension of disbelief.

But hey, it was fun to think about. Which is a great exercise for creative writing – take a plot and see what else is hidden inside, what’s there and what isn’t that would support an alternative take on the same material.

I’m not really why I wrote all of this… just to share I guess. Or to distract myself from what I really should be writing about 🙂

Ok, writer. Back to it


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