Jason Bourne has been through his ups and downs at the moves. Yet it’s important to note just how improbably successful this series has been overall: turning a turgid series of bestselling airport paperbacks into the most muscular and credible spy franchise since James Bond. Director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon deserve the lion’s share of the credit for that. This time of the year seems to be a good fit for it, as evinced by Bourne’s third onscreen adventure, The Bourne Ultimatum — perhaps the best of the lot — which opened today in 2007.
Tom Clancy’s ubiquitous hero Jack Ryan has been played by four different actors and counting, but I think most would agree that Harrison Ford’s turn remains the most compelling. (The Angry Finger is tough to counter.) After taking over the reins with Patriot Games, he scored a second winner with Clear and Present Danger, a story about the failure of the drug war and the limits of power that holds as much pertinence today as it did when it was first released. It opened today in 1994.