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The Ending Of The Bourne Ultimatum Explained

To say The Bourne Ultimatum is a thrill ride would be an understatement. Like the two Bourne films that came before it, it combines high-intensity action sequences with some of the series' most mind-bending plot twists. For nearly ten years, it also served as our last look at Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), the skilled assassin at the heart of the series. 

While it was released in 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum has actually held up well over the years, thanks in large part to a strong set of performances and Paul Greengrass' expert directorial hand. To date, many consider it to be the best of the franchise — and it's also the most successful of the Bourne films, having grossed over $440 million worldwide. 

Still, despite its box office success, there may be many who don't really remember how the film ended or still have questions as to what exactly went down. Let's take a look at the ending of The Bourne Ultimatum and delve into Jason Bourne's fate — though, of course, this exploration will contain some serious spoilers.

In The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne fights to learn the truth about his identity

One of the predominant themes of the entire Bourne film series is identity — or, more specifically, the titular character's lack of knowledge about his own. The first two Bourne films saw him grappling with dangerous situation after dangerous situation, all while dealing with the effects of amnesia. Slowly, over time, he encountered government officials and fellow assassins who helped him put the puzzle pieces together — that his name used to be David Webb and that he was an assassin for Treadstone, a CIA operation. 

We see throughout the first three films, and especially in The Bourne Ultimatum, that trying to put together an understanding of who you are, and how you became that person, is a disorienting and traumatizing experience. Jason has terrifying flashbacks and struggles to know who to trust. This chaotic, slowly unraveling experience comes to a head in The Bourne Ultimatum. As he rushes to learn more about his origins at Treadstone, the CIA is actively working to kill him before he can learn the truth, because they know he could use that information to do irreparable damage to their operation.

When Jason finally makes his way to the facility he was trained in, he learns that he actually offered himself up to Treadstone, and despite misgivings, chose to continue on. It marks a turning point for him. He finally knows a key part of his identity, but it's not one that is easy to live with. Knowing that he chose to contribute to the violence and pain the program has caused makes him realize he has to leave the part of his identity that is Jason Bourne behind.

The end of Bourne Ultimatum leaves plenty of room for future chapters

As CIA officers chase Jason onto the roof of the facility he was trained in, he confronts one of the agents, Paz (Edgar Ramirez), and challenges him to think about why he even wants to kill him. Jason echoes the words of another Treadstone operative, the professor from The Bourne Identity, whom he killed. He tells Paz, "Look at us. Look at what they make you give." It's as if to say he finally understands the true toll of the life he once chose to lead, and he hopes others will realize the sacrifices they've made, too. 

Then, he dives off the roof into the East River. At first, it appears that David has died. However, in the film's closing moments, we learn from a news report that his body hasn't been recovered yet — and then we see his seemingly lifeless body spring into action and swim away. 

Had the series wrapped up there, we would have been left knowing he survived. But it also left the door open for the Bourne story to continue. First, in The Bourne Legacy, we saw how other covert operations were affected after the information Jason lifted helped blow the lid off Treadstone and its next incarnation, Operation Blackbriar. Then, we saw David fighting (one last time?) to learn more details about his identity, including about his own father's ties to Treadstone, in 2016's Jason Bourne

So, leaving the closing moments of The Bourne Ultimatum with an ellipses, rather than a period, was pretty much the perfect ending — one that subtly reminded fans that David's quest to find himself may never be truly over.