The Jason Bourne Primer: Everything You Forgot (And May Need To Know) For The New Movie

It's been almost a decade since the saga of Matt Damon's amnesiac super-spy Jason Bourne came to an apparent end. In fact, the door was so firmly closed on this story that Universal tried to spin off another character to keep the series going with The Bourne Legacy. That didn't work as planned and now the original Bourne is back, with director Paul Greengrass back at the helm.

And let's face it: there's a whole lot going on in these movies, it's been a long time since they were in theaters, and you may be a little rusty with the details as you prepare to settle in for Jason Bourne this weekend. We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to remember from the original Bourne movies.

The Body in the Ocean

It all begins with one very simple image: a body floating in the stormy ocean off the coast of France. The crew of a fishing vessel rescues the unconscious and injured Jason Bourne from the ocean, remove the two bullets from his back, and quickly learn that he has amnesia. He doesn't know his name, where he came from, or how he ended up in the ocean. What we do know is that he hasn't forgotten his skills or his instincts. Lost memory or not, he can scan rooms, wield weapons, and take down enemies in brutal brawls without breaking a sweat.

Bourne's Temperament

As he begins to find his footing, Jason Bourne's personality begins to take shape. More specifically, his lack of personality begins to take shape. With all knowledge of his past self wiped clean, Bourne quickly evolved into a man of few words. After a certain point, he doesn't talk unless it serves his purpose and he's too tortured, too remorseful of his past as an assassin, to have anything resembling a proper social life or a hobby. He's very much a man of action – he can't shake the demons he accumulated, even if he can't remember their names, so he ultimately dedicates himself to exposing the secret government program that created him to atone for his sins.

Operation Treadstone

And that secret government program was known as Treadstone, which sounds like a some kind of private club for bankers but was actually a sinister operation built to transform individual men into perfect assassins. As we learn over the course of the original movies, these agents were subjected to physical and mental torture to reprogram their personalities, resulting in unstoppable killing machines...who were also deeply unstable and frequently showed physical and mental signs of trauma. They are even forced to abandon their real names and reinvent their personalities under pseudonyms.

Bourne's Real Name (and His Volunteerism)

Before he joins Treadstone, Jason Bourne was Captain David Webb, a reveal that means about as much to us as it does to him (i.e., not much). More shocking than his real name is the revelation in The Bourne Ultimatum that Webb wasn't coerced into joining Treadstone: he volunteered and was well aware of what lay ahead – he simply wanted to help "save American lives." We still don't know the finer points of who Dave Webb was, but he's long gone now. So is the man he became after training. The current Jason Bourne is a new man and a blank slate.

Job One, Job Two

To earn admittance into Treadstone in the first place, David Webb must execute a man he has never met and whose crimes (if any) are unknown. This decision weighs heavily on Webb's soul and it is step one to him becoming Jason Bourne. Following training (during which we are shown him suffering all kinds of physical torments), Bourne is taken to Berlin to execute a Russian politician named Vladimir Neski. When his wife arrives at the same time, Bourne kills her too, staging the scene as a murder/suicide. Neski was about to reveal the name of the American agent involved in stealing $20 million in CIA funds, a detail that will become important down the road.

The Yacht Job

After infiltrating the yacht of exiled African dictator Nykwana Wombosi with every intention of killing him, Bourne pauses when he sees his target's children sleeping nearby. His crisis of conscience keeps him from pulling the trigger, but it does not keep him from getting shot by Wombosi's guards, leading to him leaping overboard and forgetting everything about himself in the process.

Important Name #1: Alexander Conklin

Alexander Conklin (Chris Cooper) is the CIA agent in direct charge of Treadstone operatives, running the day-to-day activities of the various assassins stationed around the world. When Bourne re-emerges following the failed mission that put two bullets in his back and purged him of his memories, Conklin sets out to have his newly rogue asset killed by any means necessary. His plan ultimately backfires as Bourne proves hard to kill, with the amnesiac agent ultimately cornering his own boss, successfully grilling him about Treadstone, and announcing his retirement from the spy game. Bourne leaves Conklin alive, but he is soon executed by one of his own assassins, who has been charged with cleaning up the entire situation. Treadstone is then disbanded.

...And Then They Pull Him Back In

After successfully living off the grid and in relative peace for a few years, Jason Bourne once again finds himself sucked back into his violent old life. An operation to uncover who was behind the theft of that $20 million is underway in Germany, but the two agents on the case are killed and wouldn't you know it? Bourne's fingerprints are on the scene (even though we, the audience, know he's living peacefully in India). The whole thing is part of a much larger scheme between corrupt CIA agents and a handful of Russians to protect identity of the living thieves and lay it all on the deceased Conklin and his most dangerous agent, Jason Bourne. In order to protect their story, an assassin is dispatched to kill Bourne and give the CIA no viable leads. It goes wrong.

Important Name #2: Marie Kreutz

In The Bourne Identity, Bourne finds his first ally in Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente), a German woman who he pays an absurd amount of money for a ride to Paris. What begins as a profitable road trip soon becomes an actual relationship, with Marie and Jason falling in love and deciding to stick out the entire situation to the bitter end. She's living with him in India when the sniper's bullet intended for him kills her instead.

...And They Make It Personal

With Marie's death, an angry and grieving Jason Bourne finds himself newly fueled by vengeance. She was his anchor to a more peaceful life and without her, he is only a pile of guilt and bad dreams and violent instincts. From her death in The Bourne Supremacy onwards, Bourne begins speaking less and taking bigger risks, effectively making him the Jason Bourne we all remember.

Important Name #3: Ward Abbott

The Deputy Director of the CIA, Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) personally oversaw Alexander Conklin and Treadstone. He also ordered the execution of Conklin to clean up the whole Treadstone mess and keep him in the clear. Oh, and he's also the one who stole that $20 million, which required Bourne to kill Neski and his wife to keep it quiet. He gets away scot-free at first, but finds himself re-entangled when the plot to frame Bourne and Conklin for the theft goes awry and the attempted murder of Bourne only makes him angry instead of dead. After much desperate weaseling, Abbott is cornered by Bourne and confesses to his crimes on tape. Bourne leaves him with a pistol, which he ultimately turns on himself.

A Confession

Bourne journeys to Russia and gets shot and pursued and becomes a participant in a massive car chase. And then he finds Neski's daughter and admits his crime. This attempt at atonement doesn't do much to ease his guilt.

Important Name #4: Pamela Landy

Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) is initially the CIA task chief officer charged with uncovering whoever stole that $20 million. When that operation goes belly-up, she sets out to track down and apprehend the apparently guilty Jason Bourne. When she realizes that Bourne is an amnesiac pawn in a much larger game (she witnesses Abbott's suicide), she morphs into one of his few allies, offering him refuge (which he refuses) before slipping him the final piece of information he needs to get to the bottom of Treadstone and his origins. She ultimately leaks classified Treadstone and Blackbriar files, exposing these programs to the world and causing charges to be leveled against those responsible.

Operation Blackbriar

Think of Blackbriar as the sequel to Treadstone. With the latter cancelled following the death of Conklin, the CIA needed another off-the-books way to get their dirtiest work done. Described as the "umbrella" under which all of the most questionable decisions can be made quickly and efficiently, those working for Blackbriar have the jurisdiction to break any laws, spy on anyone, and take any lives they deem necessary without requiring approval from bureaucrats. A British journalist named Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) is about to blow the lid off of Blackbriar after writing a series of articles about Jason Bourne, but his assassination by a CIA marksman once again drags Bourne back into the fray. If Bourne is going to learn the truth about Treadstone, he needs to take down Blackbriar in the process. And yes, he succeeds.

Important Name #5: Noah Vosen

A CIA Deputy Director, Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) personally oversees Operation Blackbriar, personally orders the death of Simon Ross, and repeatedly orders the death of Jason Bourne, which is easier said than done. He's a true believer in his work, which only makes him all the more terrifying (and the most effective bureaucrat Bourne faces across these movies). He's ultimately arrested when Landy leaks those classified files, but he is cleared of all charges during the events of The Bourne Legacy, where he successfully manages to spin Blackbriar into a program that only existed to hunt down Jason Bourne.

Important Name #6: Ezra Kramer

The director of the CIA, Ezra Kramer allows Blackbriar to operate and ignores Landy's phone calls when she tries to inform him that everyone is making a mistake. He's put on trial for his crimes during the conclusion of The Bourne Ultimatum.

Important Name #7: Nicky Parsons

Originally introduced as an agent working in Treadstone's Paris safehouse who was in charge of coordinating agents and monitoring their mental health, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) has practically emerged as the second lead of the Bourne films. A minor supporting character in the first film, she plays a larger role in The Bourne Supremacy, where Bourne interrogates her and learns of Ward Abbot's involvement in Treadstone. She becomes a full-fledged ally in The Bourne Ultimatum, where she abandons her post to go on the run with Bourne, throwing away her CIA career to help him expose Treadstone and Blackbriar. We see her in the final scenes of the movie, hiding out in an undisclosed location, smiling at a news report saying that Jason Bourne's body has not been recovered (because that surely means he's alive).

Important Name #8: Dr. Albert Hirsch

Abbott and Conklin may have been calling the shots on Treadstone, but it was Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney) who molded the agents through psychological modification and torture. He is ultimately spared by Bourne, only to get arrested for his crime following Landy's leak. He is then murdered during the events of The Bourne Legacy to prevent him from testifying about his work.

A Quick Guide to Bourne Movie Henchmen

The Bourne movies like to cast smoldering actors as the various henchmen and assassins that pop up to give our hero a hard time. In The Bourne Identity, Clive Owen plays a Treadstone operative known as The Professor. In The Bourne Supremacy, Karl Urban plays Kirill, the Russian assassin who kills Marie, and Marton Csokas plays Jarda, a former Treadstone agent with whom Bourne tangles (and ultimately kills). The Bourne Ultimatum brings Edgar Ramirez into the fold as Paz, the only murderer Bourne encounters who actually spares his life when he has a killshot. Jason Bourne looks to continue this tradition with Vincent Cassel.

How Did Things End?

The last time we saw Jason Bourne, he was dodging gunfire from Vosen and leaping off a New York City hospital roof and into the East River. His body is never recovered, because he actually survives, swimming away just as the film cuts to the credits and Moby's "Extreme Ways" blasts on the soundtrack for the third time. And then he gets about a decade to himself before he gets dusted off for another sequel.