Friday 17 November 2017

Review: Thriller: The Bourne Dominion by Eric Van Lustbader

Orion, €14.99

Remember me? Matt Damon
as Jason Bourne, created by
Robert Ludlum
Remember me? Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, created by Robert Ludlum

It's the battle of summer 2011. Two Americans are vying for the top spot on the spy thriller lists with books featuring action heroes whose original creators are long since dead.

Jeffrey Deaver has published Carte Blanche, the 25th Bond adventure since 007 creator Ian Fleming died in 1964. And Eric Van Lustbader has delivered The Bourne Dominion, his sixth addition to Robert Ludlum's thrillers about amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne. Ludlum died in 2001.

It's hard to believe, but it's been 31 years since CIA super assassin Jason Bourne made his first appearance in the famous Ludlum thriller, The Bourne Identity. That story started when the crew of an Italian fishing trawler pulled Bourne unconscious from the Mediterranean near Marseille, with serious head injuries and bullet wounds.

When he wakes up, he has total amnesia. Something tells him he might find a clue to his identity in Paris, but when he gets there unknown assailants try to kill him.

He discovers he has extraordinary fighting skills, is an expert at spy craft and that those seeking to kill him will never give up.

Bit by bit, flashes of his past illuminate the violent path he must take to find out who he is.

Before The Bourne Identity Ludlum already had a string of thrillers to his name. But The Bourne Identity hit a massive chord with the 1980s reading public and went on to be a global bestseller.

Ludlum returned to his brain-washed action man again in 1986 with The Bourne Supremacy, and, finally, in 1990 with The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ludlum was a native New Yorker, and over a 30-year career as a thriller writer he sold almost 500 million books. He died of a stroke in 2001 at his home in Florida.

That might well have been the end for Jason Bourne and his desperate efforts to discover who was trying to assassinate him. But then in 2000, Matt Damon signed up to make three big-budget Jason Bourne action thrillers loosely based on Ludlum's original books.

The first film in the franchise was The Bourne Identity. It cost $60m to make and became one of the most popular movies of 2002.

Two years later, Damon reprised Jason Bourne in The Bourne Supremacy. English documentary director Paul Greengrass was the surprise choice as director, but he spent the $75m budget he was given extremely well, delivering a stunning, action-filled movie.

The third and last in the series, also directed by Greengrass, was 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, which cost $110m and delivered more than three times that sum in profits for the studio.

While they are not among the top money-spinning movie franchises of all time -- the seven Harry Potter films made $5.5bn and the 23 James Bond films made $5bn -- the three Bourne movies have been hugely successful. They have taken almost $1bn so far world-wide -- and that does not include DVD sales in excess of $200m.

The success of the Bourne movies spurred the representatives of Robert Ludlum's literary estate to consider extending the series, despite the fact the late writer had not left any future plot outlines.

The man chosen to pen the new books was Eric Van Lustbader. Already successful thanks to an exciting series of Ninja thrillers, Van Lustbader had to exercise a delicate balancing act for Bourne. It was no easy task to keep hard-core action fans enthralled while updating the intelligence world, but he did it with aplomb.

In the new book, The Bourne Dominion, Bourne's enemies are gathering force. Severus Domna, a secret group, has called forth its members from around the globe with one objective: to kill the last person capable of destroying their bid to destabilise the world economy -- Jason Bourne.

They turn Bourne's most trusted friend into his most deadly enemy. Boris Karpov has taken over a powerful security organisation -- but at a price: he must kill his oldest friend, Jason Bourne.

Bourne finds himself in a world where friend and foe go hand-in-hand. His journey leads him down a path of brutal murder and destruction -- from which there is no escape -- in a yarn which is as explosive as anything that has gone before in the series.

Whether Matt Damon will ever get to play this one is doubtful. It seems any new Bourne films are unlikely to feature Damon in the title role. He has said he won't play Jason Bourne again unless Greengrass directs, and the director's stated attitude is 'been there, done that' as far as Bourne is concerned.

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