From The Graduate to Casino to The Hangover, the lights of Las Vegas have been used to brighten many films in Hollywood history, and Paul Greengrass' Jason Bourne joins that legacy. The globe-trotting adventure has its final showdown between the heroes and villains in the Nevada city, complete with a fast-paced car chase across The Strip. Obviously the setting was chosen partially because of its aesthetic value -- which is quite distinct -- but there's another key reason why Las Vegas was selected: it's actually a very important in the tech community in the real world.
Taking into consideration the many places the Bourne franchise has gone in its 14 years of existence, I took the opportunity to ask Paul Greengrass about the location selection process for the series when I had the chance to hop on the phone with him for an interview earlier this month. Discussing the choice for Jason Bourne's third act, he said that Las Vegas was a purely logical pick because of how a rising tech star (played by Riz Ahmed) and a new social media platform play into the movie's plot. Greengrass explained,
The truth is a lot of the recruitment by the CIA and NSA takes place here in Las Vegas, because here is where you get all these big technology conferences. All the best and the brightest young mathematicians and physicists and cyber people are at these conventions. The CIA and NSA try to recruit, and all the big finance houses try to recruit, because they want those people to write their algorithmic programs. The big social media companies try to recruit them - the Googles and the Facebooks -- and also the hacker underground try to recruit them. Vegas is the equivalent of the backstreets of Berlin except today. It's the espionage crossroads of today.
It was at that point of consideration, as Paul Greengrass comically pointed out, that they began to think about all of the great potential that existed in creating an action set piece in Las Vegas. Said the director,
And then kind of we're talking and like, 'It's Vegas! Everybody likes to go to Vegas. And then, we can have a car chase!'
Of course, Las Vegas isn't the only location that characters visit in Jason Bourne, and it's also not the only one that was chosen for very specific reasons. For example, when the movie begins, we see the titular hero played by Matt Damon basically lost and alone -- aware of his past, and both haunted and lured in by it. As Paul Greengrass put it in the interview, the character is on a tipping point, and he and co-writer Christopher Rouse wanted to find a location that would reflect that:
It started by Chris and I discussing Bourne reaching a tipping point. It starts off that that's where he would be, he'd be hiding out somewhere, guilt-ridden, haunted, working through his inner violence - filled with self-loathing and reaching a tipping point. And then, we were asking ourselves, well where in the world do you find a world that is itself reaching a tipping point? That's Athens.
We've seen Jason Bourne go to a lot of places over the course of four movies -- but where do you think the former assassin should go next? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and look for Jason Bourne in theaters this Friday, July 29th.