An anti-establishment hero, trained to perfection, betrayed, left without gainful employment, in the midst of an identity crisis? Jason Bourne is the prototypical millennial. And in each movie, as Bourne makes it through insurmountable odds only to turn the table on his enemies in the final seconds, we hear the same refrain:
Wree! Wree! Extreme ways are back again, Extreme places I didn’t know…
That’s right: Moby’s Extreme Ways. It’s been with Bourne, and with us, for an entire five-film series. Join me on a journey back to the pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook, prehistoric days of 2002…
The Bourne Identity (2002)
Despite its hyperkinetic violence, The Bourne Identity reminds me more of arthouse European cinema more than anything else. That may be why Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone all turned down the role, leaving it to comparatively-unknown Matt Damon. Who knew it’d become a franchise?
The choice of Extreme Ways as the end credits song seems fitting — Moby was very popular at the time, and it had an appealing euro-electronica-dance vibe going on.
That original Extreme Ways does not sound like a movie soundtrack in the slightest. It may start like a soundtrack, but as soon as the lyrics kick in, you realise that it’s something very different — especially since the lyrics are monotone.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
One would have forgiven Paul Greengrass, the movie’s director, if he ditched Extreme Ways in favour of something more conventional. After all, the massive success of The Bourne Identity demanded a new approach…
The ‘Supremacy’ version of Extreme Ways initially sounds identical to the original version, but as you rummage around for a final piece of popcorn, you realise something is different. Something more… orchestral?
Yes, this version takes a full 24 seconds longer to get to the lyrics than the original song. You only hear Moby’s dulcet tones until 53 seconds in — long enough for most viewers to exit the theatre remaining under the impression that they were, in fact, listening to a conventional movie soundtrack.
It’s possible that Greengrass stuck with Extreme Ways because he liked it, or because he didn’t want to mess with the movie’s formula too much. However, since Supremacy was released a mere two years after Identity, I wonder if they just didn’t have the time to find anything else.
And yet on such casual choices, empires are built.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
It’s a new Bourne
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
And I’m feeling good
The Bourne Ultimatum was spoiled for me. Not the plot, but Extreme Ways’ appearance during the credits.
I consider Ultimatum to be the pinnacle of the Bourne saga, and the ‘Ultimatum’ Extreme Ways as a reasonably good variation on the original. It’s more up-tempo, and someone’s clearly told Moby to make more of an effort with his singing.
Arguably it’s a bit too fussy with all the wailing, but the introduction of the strings towards the end makes for a good orchestral-feeling, while not losing the essential eurotrash-dance nature of the endeavour.
Time to lyrics: 46 seconds (-6s from Supremacy) Continue reading “Extreme Ways: A Deep Dive”