Jason Bourne, Anti-American?

I wouldn't be as quick as Chris Orr to dismiss the notion that The Bourne Supremacy is an anti-American film. (And I gave it a positive review, mind you ...) Chris writes: "This is a movie, like most, with good guys and bad guys - and both groups are made up almost exclusively of current or former employees of the 'American government.'" True enough, and certainly a movie has to do more than posit an evil conspiracy embedded in the U.S. government to qualify as anti-American; otherwise our net would sweep up everything from 24 to All the President's Men. On the other hand, there has to be some point where an indictment of the bad guys within our government becomes so sweeping as to shade into outright anti-Americanism, and I think that the earlier Bourne movies walked the line that Chris is describing more carefully than the most recent installment: In those two films, you had a sense of the American establishment being balanced between the Joan Allen position ("this isn't us") and the pro-torture, pro-Treadstone, pro-anything goes position embodied first by Chris Cooper and then by Brian Cox. Whereas in Supremacy, the rot seems to go much, much deeper; the sins the U.S. government commits as an institution, in the light of bureaucratic day, are much worse; and Allen's "good American" seems a weird anomaly more than anything else. Yes, the film ends (SPOILER ALERT) with the bad guys exposed to press scrutiny and the indictments that follow, but there's nothing in the film as a whole to give you any confidence that a few prison terms will remove the deep corruption from the system; there will be another Treadstone, and another one after that, because this is the path that our government (and by extension, our country?) has chosen to take.

Again, I liked the movie in many ways, and I'm overstating the case a bit. I just think there's a large gray area between generic "corruption in high places" films that don't have a broader anti-American message and exercises in explicit Amerika-bashing like Dogville. And The Bourne Supremacy, more than Bourne's previous outings, is way out there in the gray, and too close to America-bashing for comfort.

Update: Alex Massie adds his two cents.

Second Update: I don't know why I kept calling Ultimatum Supremacy above, but my apologies.