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refresher course

Five Things to Remember About the First Three Movies Before Seeing The Bourne Legacy

Unlike most sequels, the events of The Bourne Legacy unfold at the same time as The Bourne Ultimatum, the film that preceded it. Except now, another agent, Aaron Cross, is the center of attention. But just as the phone call from Jason Bourne to Pam Landy in The Bourne Supremacy was turned inside out and given new meaning in The Bourne Ultimatum, other scenes, characters, and bits of jargon get twisted around in Legacy. If you're like Bourne and your memory's not what it used to be, here's a quick franchise refresher to help you prep for this new "sidequel."

1. The Agents
Jason Bourne was but one agent in the old Treadstone program. And Treadstone was only one of the government's black-ops programs. CIA deputy director Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) spearheaded Treadstone and its successor enterprise Blackbriar, which you'll recall was taken over by the shifty Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) after Abbott's entirely timely death. Within Treadstone (and later Blackbriar), we meet Castel, who went to Bourne's Parisian apartment to kill him; the Professor, who went to a countryside home to kill Bourne; Manheim, who went to Paris to kill Bourne's boss, Conklin; Jarda, who assumed Bourne had arrived at his home to kill him; Paz, who went to Waterloo station to dispatch a troublesome journalist; and Desh, was sent out to kill a CIA station chief in Tangier — and then his assistant, when she too became troublesome. Clearly, this is a dangerous world — and confusing. As the dying Professor told Bourne in Identity: "I work alone, like you. We always work alone." If you encounter another agent, best to hold off on handshakes.

2. The Reporter
When a newspaper reporter for The Guardian named Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) used the word Blackbriar on his cell phone, he immediately drew the attention of the eavesdropping CIA — which quickly discovered that he was getting his info from an inside source, Madrid station chief Neal Daniels. Both men were thus marked for death, and Ross met his end in a crowded London train station, despite Bourne’s attempts to save him. But Ross did manage to get a story out about Bourne before his death.

3. The Stolen Files
Bourne breaks into Noah Vosen's safe during a pretty nifty sequence in Ultimatum and grabs the Blackbriar files. He later hands them off to CIA task force officer Pam Landy (Joan Allen), who faxes the classified documents to an unknown source, presumably to the press. When we last saw Landy, she was at a Congressional hearing, testifying that CIA chief Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn) authorized the assassination programs. Kramer, who denied involvement, is under criminal investigation, while Vosen and Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney), the alleged mastermind of the behavior modification aspect of the program, were arrested. It's a national scandal, and those behind the programs are looking to sever all connections.

4. The Scapegoat
The only reason Landy was part of the operation to find Bourne in Ultimatum, however, was so that Kramer and Vosen could hang it around her neck if they were found out. She's usually the smartest one in the room (whether she's tracking a source, discovering deception in her own department, or sending a message to Bourne), as well as the most ethical (arguing against killing their own). Landy's vulnerable now that she has effectively committed treason by releasing classified documents. Any agents in need of help would need to look elsewhere.

5. The Device
Bourne had one in his hip, which was found by a fisherman doing emergency surgery on him after he was shot twice in the back. The device turned out to be a laser projector that revealed the number for a Swiss bank account in Zurich. Its other purpose, as a tracking device, goes somewhat unacknowledged. Wanna bet that they'll finally remember its other purpose this time around?

Photo: Universal Pictures