Jason Bourne: A step backwards
When I opened a file for Jason Bourne (2016) I was mildly surprised to see that Julia Stiles would be in it, given that her Hollywood star has faded somewhat, and there are plenty of younger actresses who are much more popular. Then I began analysing the movie, and it quickly became apparent that she would be killed off. This was much less surprising. Stiles was 35 years old in 2016, and the lead female in Jason Bourne is Alicia Vikander, who was then 28 years old. A seven-year age difference may not seem significant, but for actresses it is. Their shelf life is still very short. Moreover, the filmmakers behind the Bourne franchise are hardly progressive when it comes to women: at least three Bourne movies fail the Bechdel test. The Bourne Identity (2002) fails because no two named female characters ever speak. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) fails because the only time two named female characters speak they talk about a male. Jason Bourne (2016) represents a step backwards because no two named female characters even speak. The only time two women speak face to face is when Vikander checks into her hotel, and she talks very briefly to the female receptionist.
There is also the sexist Hollywood age gap to consider. The protagonist, Matt Damon, was 46 years old in 2016, which means that the women he was paired with were 11 years (Stiles) and 18 years (Vikander) his juniors. In The Bourne Identity (2002) he was paired with Franka Potente, who was only four years his junior, and Julia Stiles, who was 21 years old.
Jason Bourne (2016) is a two-hour movie. Apparently two hours is insufficient to fit in a scene where two named female characters exchange a few words. It was long enough to include an interminable car chase though. Filmmaking is about making choices. Unfortunately, the filmmakers behind this franchise keep making regressive ones. If it does not strike you as odd that no two women ever speak in a movie ask yourself this: how many movies can you name in which no two men ever speak?
© 2018 Alline Cormier
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