10 Films To Watch If You Like The Jason Bourne Movies
The Jason Bourne movies are one of the most successful spy movie franchises in modern times. Not only has it collectively proven to be a commercial success, but they have also done so on the back of remarkably poised and engaging execution. None of the films in the series are dull or low on entertainment. They do hold up the modern norms of content creation and carry the nostalgic noir taste of filmmaking. The delightful premise blossoms into fully realized characters and storylines that allow the protagonist to introspect about questions of identity and seek human connection amidst the chaos. The main themes in its structure are identity, human connection, and revisiting a tumultuous past through fading memories. Bearing these in mind, we have come up with a list of similar films to the Jason Bourne series for you to check out. We have also included certain films from outside the genre that we feel will be great companion pieces. Happy reading!
10. Salt (2010)
Angelina Jolie doesn’t get enough credit for her action performances. For all the banter around it, Tomb Raider was a stunning physical effort on her part. Salt was a similar role that demanded her to execute excruciating scenes that a highly-skilled CIA agent would fulfill with ease. Like Jason Bourne, Jolie’s Salt is hounded by authorities and mercenaries alike after being accused of killing a high-ranking political figure. She must navigate the relentless pursuit and prove her innocence before the buck catches up with her. Salt is a no-brainer if you love the Jason Bourne series. The tone is a bit mechanical and rushed as compared to the dramatic depth in the Jason Bourne films. There is an intentional attempt to do “too much” at times. But from a lesser critical viewpoint, Salt provides decent entertainment that is as engaging as it is enthralling in every sense.
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9. Lucy (2014)
You could see this one, couldn’t you? There was no way this classic sci-fi film that has defined a generation could miss out. The “using your full cerebral capacity” line is arguably one of the most quoted scenes in today’s pop culture. It is deeply influenced by the high-concept themes in Lucy, which honestly was way ahead of its time. Scarlett Johanson plays the titular character, whose form and substance are unlike anything we have ever seen. At the heart of it all, there is a very human urge to be vengeful. All the fancy plot creations aside, that primal need to take down your enemy when you can excite like you nothing else. Jason Bourne goes through a similar phase when he realizes the truth about his circumstance. The convention is to channel the anger through action sequences. But our two protagonists go through something even darker. The starkness in how they react to a betrayal of sorts is a menacing force of nature, although it manifests differently in both narratives.
8. Safe House (2012)
The initial parts of Safe House paint it as a stirring single-location action piece with a delicious offering of surreal hand-to-hand combat and rugged super-hero-like characters. But as the plot grows and the story progresses, it unfurls as a chase-cum-whodunnit series of twists and turns that keeps you guessing. Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds appear in starring roles and maintain good chemistry throughout. Like the Bourne series, there is an instant crisis of trust and affection in Safe House. “Who is who” takes on a sinister face in the game of life and death. For those who have seen similar films in bulk, Safe House isn’t the brightest. It still stands the test of time as a decent one-time watch. The cast does most of the heavy loading here, being stationed as the drivers for the story. The themes aren’t as fully developed as Jason Bourne but they nonetheless provide solid entertainment.
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7. Jack Reacher (2012)
Tom Cruise is not someone who generally makes very dark films. Almost all his work has somewhat carried a lighter tone that appeals to the masses. This creative choice is evident in the commercial success of his blockbusters. And it is not a problematic thing either, considering that this particular aspect makes his movies a lot of fun to watch. Jack Reacher, though, is probably one of his darkest films to date. In terms of the vibe and energy, it takes no prisoners. When you compare it with Jason Bourne, the only difference is that the latter constantly unfolds, whereas the former is more about building up the anticipation of what is to come. This big difference is probably the only thing that separates these two films. Other than that, Jack Reacher is a slight improvement in how it is paced but isn’t as expansive as Jason Bourne.
6. The Atomic Blonde (2017)
Charlize Theron really hit it off as the breathtaking spy in Atomic Blonde. We do not have enough high-quality female-centric spy/assassin films but the scope is gradually widening with changing sensibilities. Theron is at the forefront. In fact, she has been the go-to on many occasions for directors to represent female athleticism on screen. Atomic Blonde immensely benefits from her presence. Not only does she fulfill the action obligations, but she also kicks ass in style. It is worth watching her turn on the magic and that can be said for very few action films. David Leitch, himself a stunt director, does a great job of choreographing them to perfection. It is one of the brighter spy thrillers not because of the plot, but the hand-to-hand combat and bodies going through walls. It is tastefully done to give you a visceral watching experience.
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5. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
The Man from UNCLE may seem like a conventional spy thriller. But it is still a few notches above contemporaries owing to Guy Ritchie’s ingenious craft and guile. Ritchie has a fascinating ear for dialogue and an eye for a story that few directors have. His trademark style is too chic to disregard. There’s somehow always a rhythm – momentum to his actions. The fluidity is found in aplomb as he finds a troika of superstars up for the task. Alicia Vikander, Henry Cahill, and Armie Hammer are exhilarating as the dynamic trio working together to unhinge a conspiracy to destroy the world. It works within the same old cliches of twists and turns and an overbearing antagonist. But it is Ritchie’s presentation that makes all the difference. Although there are marked similarities in the themes and elements of the story between the Jason Bourne films and TMFU, the two are visually distinct. Ergonomically as well, TMFU operates in a much more kinetic space, as opposed to the Bourne series that makes targeted efforts to expand its universe. We are still waiting for a sequel to TMFU and it couldn’t be more painful to stop dreaming.
4. Le Samourai (1967)
Now, this is a bit of a deviation from the core themes but this pick is a personal favorite and I want you to watch it because the overall indications of both stories are similar. Jean-Pierre Melville made this film with Alain Delon in the central role. He created a character, a reclusive hit man, who was emotionally troubled. He couldn’t associate positively with the world around him, except for his small pet bird. The lack of social bonding pushed him to take the fall for a person whom he instantly connected with as a form of instant gratitude. But despite the assertions, Jef is a smart operator and falls in the same spectrum as Jason. All other technical elements are mostly different for the two films. Le Samourai is a classic that will linger on for days after you have watched it. It is a sheer thinking piece that at once intrigues your inquiry into human nature and snatches you away from its most cardinal behaviors.
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3. Dark City (1998)
Waking up in a strange place with no memory of who you are and even stranger men chasing you to kill you? How can that be any different from Jason Bourne? Dark City is an underappreciated gem from the sci-fi world that doesn’t get enough credit for its inventive take on the theme of figuring yourself out. It is the tailor-made storytelling that unites Dark City with the Jason Bourne films. Rufus Sewell stars as John Murdoch, who gets instructions on a phone call to escape men with guns coming after him. His job becomes even more difficult as he battles his own inner demons. Director Alex Proyas does a commendable job in his world-building exercise. Along with the talented off-camera crew, he creates a compelling visual template that is at once brooding and teasingly hopeful. There is enough attention given to developing the characters to make them relatable, living beings in the universe. The Dark City also has fascinating philosophical roots that can be explored by aficionados looking to deep dive into the film.
2. Collateral (2004)
Collateral is not a spy film but still makes the list because of how well it exploits the genre elements, just like Jason Bourne. Punches after punches, bodies after bodies, is something that both these films avoid. Cruise brings a lot of intensity to his role. Collateral is mostly about him and Jamie Foxx’s cab driver, seldom going beyond the scenes they have. Michael Mann has already triumphed in the action genre with classics like Heat, Thief, and The Insider. His nuanced narratives that fall around the crime drama tropes are expertly placed to be immersive and relentless. Larger questions about politics and social mores are added to the story making his film a wholesome experience to watch. Every world created by Mann has a special crisis that is so attractive and enticing. His latest Tokyo Vice is a gem and you must check it out as well.
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1. Memento (2000)
Memento’s presence on the list is for clear reasons. It shares the memory loss aspect of its lead character with Jason Bourne, who also does not have any recollection of who he is and how he got to the island in the first film. Memory loss is actually a great narrative tool for directors to exploit ambiguity and keep you on the edge of your seat. This phenomenon is inherently designed to tease and titillate you. However, no one has done it better than Christopher Nolan in Memento. The film became a raging success and remains a cult classic for its unique storytelling and inversion of filmmaking norms. We are yet to see an invention of such proportions in modern-day cinema. Nolan’s ambitious vision is brutally realized into a compelling story, woven together by the strands of memory that Leonard Shelby still has. Guy Pearce gave a haunting performance as Leonard, seemingly mixing his helplessness and indignation in style. Erased, starring Aaron Eckhart, could have also made it to the list. Consider it a decent companion piece to both sets of films.