How to Sell a Boring Action Hero: An Analysis of the Success of The Bourne Ultimatum Within the Context of Corporate Hollywood

  • Isolde Vanhee
Part of the Einstein Meets Magritte: An Interdisciplinary Reflection on Science, Nature, Art, Human Action and Society book series (EMMA, volume 11)


Jason Bourne is certainly not your typical action hero. He may share his initials with that other undercover icon James Bond, but ultimately, have very little else in common. Jason Bourne is ordinary looking, has no sparkling personality, and no apparent sense of humor. To make things worse, he suffers from amnesia. Initially, all he knows about himself is that he displays impressive situational awareness, has an awesome set of fighting skills, and that parties unknown want to kill him. Consequently, he looks confused whenever he is not otherwise engaged in dispatching bad guys. Nor is there any eye candy – no beaches and no babes – to make up for his otherwise rather dull personality. Even the final outcome of the Bourne films to date is far from uplifting. Ultimately, Bourne lays bare the moral bankruptcy of the West and its main political and economic systems. A boring action hero in a politically engaged story? This sounds like a recipe for disaster at the box office and yet the Bourne trilogy is one of the most successful Hollywood franchises in recent years. How did Jason Bourne acquire such a huge audience and critical acclaim? Can a film be both mass entertainment and score high on an artistic scale? How did anti-corporatism and anti-capitalism find its way into mainstream Hollywood? How does all this fit into the marketing strategies of Universal Studios? To summarize: Is there still hope for Hollywood, both aesthetically and ethically?


Talented Director Film Industry Action Hero Hollywood Film Independent Film 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sint-Lucas Visual ArtsGhentBelgium

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