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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Stuart Heritage

Jason Bourne isn’t a fictional CIA agent. He’s real, drunk and lives in Durham

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity (2002).
It turns out that instead of dying, the Bourne franchise had simply gone underground. Photograph: Universal/Allstar

At this point in time, it is safe to assume that the Bourne franchise is dead in the water. After a near-perfect initial trilogy, the series began to wobble with 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, a bizarre wish-fulfilment fantasy that answered the perpetually unasked question: “What if Jason Bourne, but Hawkeye?” 2016’s Jason Bourne was an attempt to right the ship, bringing back Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass, but it floundered because it forgot to have a plot or any discernible point. There was a Bourne TV show in 2019, but since this is the first time you have actually heard of it, let’s assume it was a flop. After all these half-starts and false dawns, surely, Jason Bourne is no more.

Wrong! It turns out that instead of dying, the franchise had simply gone underground. Jason Bourne, it has been revealed, is alive and well. Better still, he can often be seen around Durham. Even better still, he is apparently quite a belligerent drunk.

One September afternoon at approximately 4:15pm, police officers approached a drunk man staggering around near the city’s Elvet Bridge. According to Gazette Live: “He started to swear at them and tell them he was Jason Bourne, the character from the Hollywood film series including The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy.”

Now. Obviously, I know what you’re thinking here. You’re thinking that the whole point of the Bourne films is that Jason Bourne doesn’t actually know that he is Jason Bourne. He is a man with advanced combat skills, fluency in multiple languages and a form of amnesia stemming from being used as a pawn in a sinister CIA black-ops programme. To blurt out “I am Jason Bourne, the character from the Hollywood film series including The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy” would be to wildly misinterpret the entire point of the series. Clearly something is up here.

But back to the story. Not content to simply reveal his identity to the local police force, Bourne then went one step further. “The defendant then took his top off and [started] to talk about his tattoos,” Gazette Live writes. “The defendant threw his jacket over a barrier and told the officers to fetch it. He then climbed over the barrier himself.”

Now things are starting to make sense. This is classic CIA mind game behaviour: bamboozling an opposing force with irregular behaviour, then distracting them with hypnotic body art. By this point it is likely the police officers were stunned and beguiled, something Bourne took advantage of with the textbook power play of discarding his own clothes before making someone go get them. And climbing over the barrier? That’s easy. Parkour. It’s in all the movies. Keep up.

And then! Disaster struck. Action movie star Jason Bourne found himself being arrested by police. It is here claimed that the man was identified as Paul Stephens, a 42-year-old Middlesbrough resident with a lengthy record of previous alcohol-related convictions. He wasn’t Jason Bourne at all.

Which is exactly what Jason Bourne would want you to think. He is clearly hiding behind a deep cover to protect himself from the murderous vigilante forces of Treadstone. Want more proof? Bourne’s defence lawyer was called David Dedman – a clearly made-up name designed to belittle the dark forces that stalk his every move.

So perhaps the Bourne franchise isn’t dead after all. Perhaps it has been alive and kicking in Teesside all along. And perhaps one day, this too will be turned into a movie. The Bourne Inebriation, let’s call it.

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