We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Matt Damon’s best character turns 54 today

Matt Damon is famous for having to be rescued in his movies, but one of his characters got to do the rescuing, and changed action movies forever.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

Matt Damon has played several iconic characters during his long career – such as Will Hunting, Private Ryan, Tom Ripley, and of course – The Martian. But one character stands head and shoulders above the rest: Jason Bourne. Damon first played the character in 2002’s The Bourne Identity, and when Daniel Craig started playing James Bond in 2006, he felt hugely influenced by Damon’s Bourne.

James Bond may be the world’s greatest super spy, but he appears to go around telling everyone, including his worst enemies, his real name – twice. Jason Bourne, on the other hand, is an alias given to David Webb – who was born in September 1970, a month before Matt Damon.

When Webb is given his new identity and new passport, Jason Bourne’s birth date is August 21, 1969 – as pointed out by the Dates in Movies account. Which means today is Bourne’s birthday. Damon played Bourne four times. The original trilogy of Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum concluded in 2007. He returned to the role in 2016’s Jason Bourne. The first movie was directed by Doug Liman, and after that Paul Greengrass stepped in as director of the sequels.

It’s hard to overstate how original and fresh The Bourne Identity felt when it came out, massively invigorating the action movie after 90s blockbusters. It also must be emphasized how hugely influential it was on the best action movies that followed – not just James Bond, but also the Mission: Impossible franchise. It certainly was the John Wick of its day, in terms of how every subsequent action movie would try to replicate its style.

YouTube Thumbnail

Liman’s use of hand-held cameras, which closely followed scenes of hand-to-hand combat, with Bourne frequently using household items as weapons has been much replicated. The other thing about The Bourne Identity that is easily forgotten now is that it came out so soon after 9/11, but is critical of the US government and especially their privacy-invading tactics.

So, happy birthday Jason Bourne – and thank you for shaking up the action movie forever. Check out our guide to the best spy movies. Find out how to watch the James Bond movies in order and the Mission Impossible movies in order.