The Survivors

So many people, so many styles, so many things, and so many differences. But not just differences, similarities as well. There are many differences in this world, people are different than one another, styles are different than one another, and movies are different than one another as well. Some movies can have completely different stories and ideals but some are more alike than others. Two movies of interesting comparison are the 1982 version of First Blood, and the 2002 The Bourne Identity. In both movies, the reasons the protagonists are being hunted, how the protagonists reacted to their situation, and how they resolved the conflict are the same, yet the movies are notably different films.

The conflict in First Blood is how the protagonist, John Rambo, a retired Green Berea, is chased into the forest near a small town and fights off an army of police and rangers. He is forced to use all of his survival skills to stay alive. The conflict began because when he entered the small town to visit a friend he knew from the Vietnam War. After finding out that his friend was dead, he starts walking into town to eat. The sheriff notices how he is dressed (a tattered military coat) and says he will give Rambo a ride. Instead of dropping him off near food in town, the sheriff drops him off on the edge of town and tells him that he does not like drifters. When Rambo starts making his back into town anyway, the sheriff arrests him. Back at the station, when the sheriff and other deputies start abusing Rambo, they trigger a flashback of Vietnam and his experiences as a prisoner-of-war. So Rambo panics, fights off the deputies, and escapes into the forest – where the conflict escalates.

In The Bourne Identity, the conflict is that the protagonist, Jason Bourne, fights off a constant barrage of assassins that believe he is going to release details about the CIA to the public. The movie starts with an Italian fishing boat finding a man (later revealed to be Jason Bourne) floating in the water. They pull him onto the boat and discover three gunshot wounds in his back. While they are stitching him up, he awakens and has no idea where or who he is. He jumps off the boat, swims to land, and slowly makes his way to different locations that he has no recollection of but just feels he must go. It does not take long for the CIA to spot him. They thought he had been killed since he was missing for a few weeks (the time spent on the fishing boat). The CIA thinks Bourne faked his death to elude them, and they begin to pursue to kill him so that he will not pose a security threat with his extensive knowledge of their workings. The trauma of being shot in the beginning of the film gave him amnesia, so when he is attacked by the CIA assassins, he automatically reacts with high level fighting skills – but he does not understand how, because according to him, he is just a regular person that has forgotten their name / recent memories. Eventually, certain CIA memories start to come back to him and he embraces his skills to fight off the assassins more efficiently.

The movies are similar because both protagonists are pursued by law enforcement organizations even though they are innocent. Although Bourne does have to fight off a small army like Rambo, his conflict is not limited to just the forest. He is constantly on the run, fighting in suburban landscapes and intense car chases. The two protagonists differ in that Rambo was a retired Green Berea, while Bourne is an active member of a special CIA project known as “Tread Stone.” In both movies, Rambo and Bourne are extreme survivalists and very skilled fighters/sharpshooters. Both men single handedly take on small armies and skilled assassins. Where they differ is how they reacted. Rambo reacted with his skills but because he felt forced into fighting back. He was simply visiting a friend when the police started to harass him and he fought back after war memories were triggered. Rambo fought to survive. Later in the movie, it is revealed that Rambo was specially trained as a high-ranking military survivalist and assassin. Bourne, on the other hand, also fights back to defend himself but he does not know how he is able to do so due to the amnesia. Both Bourne and Rambo fight off their attackers with skills they have acquired through extensive training: one man does so out of his own conscious choice and reason while the other does it out of instinct without understanding how.

Like all conflict, it has to end at some point. Both men are skilled soldiers and fighters, they both fight off small armies single handedly, and they both find a way to solve the conflict. How they do so, is different. In First Blood, the conflict is resolved when Rambo makes his final assault on the sheriff station, resulting in a shootout with the sheriff that started it all. Rambo wins and is about to kill the sheriff when he hears the front door open. It is colonel Trautman, one of the men who trained him as a soldier. Trautman tells Rambo to surrender and Rambo tells him how he can no longer handle going back to normal life in the city; how he was once entrusted to take lives and now he is not even trusted to park cars. Trautman tells Rambo that he can not fight forever, Rambo agrees, they exit the building, and Rambo is arrested. On the other hand, Bourne did not leave a building quietly. He also engages in a shootout, but after regaining some memories, he finds the man that has ordered him to be assassinated and tells him that he will let him live if he stops trying to find him. Then Bourne leaves the building and the country.

Both Bourne and Rambo were skilled soldiers, both were hunted, and both fought back. How and why they did so differs, though. Rambo was hunted because the sheriff did not like his “drifter” look. Bourne was hunted because he was believed to have gone rogue and had to fight for his life while having no memories to understand the context of his situation. Both of the men resolved the conflict, but Rambo did so by surrendering and going to prison while Bourne did so by forcing his hunter to leave him alone and leaving the country. Some movies, like First Blood and The Bourne Identity can have similar plots but still be totally different stories in setting, mood, and ending. That is what makes going to the movies so interesting and addicting.

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