The Bourne Contrition

This is the second in a three part series exploring the salvific movement of the Bourne trilogy starring Matt Damon. Part 1, The Bourne Conviction, posted on Monday, and part 3 will post on Wednesday of this week.

The Bourne Supremacy is the second film in the Jason Bourne trilogy. As I mentioned in my review of the first film in the series, The Bourne Identity, I love these three movies. The Bourne trilogy is my favorite film trilogy since the original Star Wars films. That being said, this film is the weakest of the series. It’s still very good, don’t get me wrong, but it is not as good as the other two.

The film’s weakness lies in its complexity. Whereas The Bourne Identity is about Jason Bourne’s amnesia and pursuit of his true identity, and the final film in the series, The Bourne Ultimatum, is about the final completion of that pursuit, The Bourne Supremacy is about Jason’s inability to escape his past. As such, this is a much muddier movie involving more characters in more locations, and at times it can be confusing. It kind of works mainly as a set-up for the final movie, but it has enough substance to make it worth watching.

In this film, Jason is driven out of hiding when a corrupt government agent tries to frame Jason for interfering in another CIA operation. Meanwhile, Jason is being tormented by guilty memories of something he thinks he did in the past, though he can’t put together the details. The typical Jason Bourne cat and mouse game ensues as Jason tries to piece together his past while escaping the CIA agents trying to gun him down.

In my review of the first film, I explained how I see in Jason’s struggle for identity a reflection of my own realization that I am a sinner who needs Christ. In this second film, I see a picture of a man who is experiencing the wages of his sin, who is plagued by guilt over what he has done, and who wants to make restitution for his transgressions. SPOILERS follow.

In the beginning, Jason is trying to live a peaceful life with his girlfriend Marie, but his past catches up to him both in his dreams and in the real world – he has dreams of people he thinks he’s killed, and counter-intelligence agents find him in India and accidentally kill Marie. In Jason’s life the phrase “the wages of sin is death” proves true. His past sins resulted literally in the death of others, Marie is killed because of Jason’s past, and he loses the peaceful life he was trying to create.

Interestingly, unlike other modern cinematic superheroes, Jason Bourne’s loved ones aren’t in danger because of his super-ness. “I have these super powers, and so you are in danger,” say Spider-Man, Superman, and others. Jason Bourne’s loved ones are endangered by his past transgressions. “I did all these terrible things in the past, and now I’m having to pay for them, and if you stay with me, you’ll have to pay too,” says Bourne, essentially. Bourne’s sins, not his superbness, bring death.

I too am hounded by my past. I feel guilt for my sin, and my sins spread death, albeit of the non-physical variety, throughout my relationships. I have lost friends because of my pride. I have lied and turned people away. I’m estranged, albeit briefly (thankfully), from even those closest to me often because I refuse to forgive. And ultimately, I will die, and the Bible teaches me that the presence of death in the world and in my life is because of sin. The wages of sin have proved to be death in my life as well.

Jason eventually puts all the pieces together and tracks down the daughter of a couple he murdered years earlier. He sits humbly before her and confesses his sin, leaving it up to her to forgive him or not. Then, he leaves, and the movie does not make it clear whether or not his guilt has been assuaged. Based on his actions in the third film, I don’t think he finds resolution simply in his confession and contrition.

Similarly, when confronted with my sin, I am called to confession, and because I confess to and serve a God who is infinitely merciful, God forgives me and cleanses me from unrighteousness. My friends and family members don’t always forgive me as easily as God does though, and sometimes our relationships are strained for a while longer. By the grace of God, we eventually come to peace, but it’s never easy. Even after I confess, I don’t necessarily feel less guilty. I just feel contrite.

Of course, confession and contrition aren’t the end of the story of salvation, and there is yet one more chapter in Jason Bourne’s story before he too finds the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.