Bourne Ultimatum’s Anti-Americanism
Jonathan Last echoes a criticism I’ve seen of the final installment of the Bourne movie trilogy but articulates it better than others:
The structural problem was the rampant anti-Americanism. I hate being predictable, but here goes: I get that the Bourne movies are anti-imperial; I get that the U.S. government is doing shady stuff at Langley and that Treadstone is a scary program; but the first two movie handled these worldviews with some real artfulness. Ultimatum has none of that. We’ve got Noah Vosen running around New York shouting for assets and agents–even analysts–to kill, kill, kill–Bourne, journalists, other CIA officers, whoever. He does all of this with the goal not of protecting national security or even his bureaucratic turf, but simply, as he puts it, “to win.” Win what? Oh, I get it, that’s the point. What a silly imperialist I am.
In the course of trying to win for no reason, the CIA kills people with black bags over their heads and uses bombs to blow up cars in the street. Any of this sound familiar? At all? Like from the recent past? There’s something peculiar about a culture which, faced with a terrible enemy, makes movies depicting the enemy’s wretched crimes, but ascribing that behavior instead to their native land.
I haven’t seen this movie yet but plan to do so. My wife and I enjoyed the first two installments very much and own them on DVD. But I’m with Last here: ham handed anti-Americanism in American pop culture is quite bizarre.
The CIA run amok is a stock plot device, really, and is arguably more anti-Big Government than anti-American. But the easy moral equivalency between the United States and our enemies is beyond banal; it’s insulting and dispiriting.