About the same time that Pierce Brosnan's Bond films began to suffer from the same, tired, over-inflated, megalomania that sunk the franchise under Roger Moore, somebody had the slightly crazy idea to cast Matt "Mr. Babyface" Damon as Jason Bourne in a film loosely based on the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum.
The original Bourne books have a Seventies-chic, ponderous plot, but the producers and director stripped down the plot to the bare ideas: man wakes up with amnesia, discovers very slowly that he is a trained assassin, and his former employers are out to get him. They also had a pretty simple rule about action: all live stunts, no CGI. The hallmark of the Bourne movies is grit. It's tempting to say that all of the action in these movies is realistic; but that's still a stretch. It is far more realistic than the Bond movies, or the Cruise-tastic Mission: Impossible films.
The Bourne films are favorites among martial arts fans for the well-choreographed fights. Everyone still talks about how Bourne beat up a guy with a rolled-up magazine; but lets not forget how he stabbed a guy in the hand with a ballpoint pen, or strangled somebody with an electric cord.
This Summer sees the last of the original Bourne titles used: The Bourne Ultimatum. In this one, Bourne meets his maker (so to speak). It's one of the few films I'm putting on my must-see list this year.
Bonus: THIS is just plain scary...