The Bourne Stuntacular has opened at Universal Studios Florida for technical rehearsals, giving guests a chance to see the new stunt show before it officially opens to the public.
The new show replaces the popular Terminator 2:3D attraction, which closed in September 2017. Before we get into our thoughts about the show, let’s talk about the Bourne property itself.
While T2:3D was a beloved attraction, it was a licensed property. By 2017, it certainly started to show its age, and as iconic as the first 2 Terminator films are, the follow-up films have struggled in the Box Office. The last film – Terminator: Dark Fate – only made $62.1 million stateside. It made sense that it was time for a change. Meanwhile, Universal’s Bourne Franchise spans 5 films, making over $2 billion at the box office. Universal has been keen on bringing attractions to their parks based around their in-house properties, and the Bourne films are one of their most successful franchises. As popular as the movies have been, it’s hard to justify its relevancy in today’s cinema – especially when compared to the domination of superhero franchises. Ultimately, in our opinion, the relevancy of a franchise doesn’t matter as long as the attraction is good. A perfect example is WaterWorld – which is based on a notorious box office bomb but the stunt show is highly praised.
So what did we think?
The show focuses on the main character, Jason Bourne, a CIA assassin suffering from dissociative amnesia who must figure out who he is.
Inside the queue, guests can find images and actual props from the films, including the Mini-Cooper from the iconic chase scene in “The Bourne Identity,” and the motorcycle used in “The Bourne Ultimatum”.
The pre-show catches guests up on the history of Jason Bourne and sets up the show. Guests will be briefed by Nicky Parsons, played by Julia Stiles, who was Bourne’s main confidant in the films. She informs us that we will be taking part in new “enhanced virtual surveillance” inside an “observation room”.
Due to Coronavirus prevention, guests are escorted into marked boxes inside the pre-show theater. Team members take each group at a time into the theater, skipping rows of seats to help keep guests distant.
The main show follows Jason Bourne as he travels across three continents, to the cities of Tangier, Washington, D.C., and Dubai, to uncover classified information. We won’t go into the spoilers of the story, but this is the weakest part of the attraction – as it’s pretty barebones. The ending is also a bit anti-climatic as there is no big set-piece to close the show with a bang.
The real star of the attraction is the technology and choreography, and that’s what sets Bourne apart from other stunt shows. Like a ballet of violence and action, the actors time their stunts with not only the other performers but with the massive LED screen background. Measuring 3,640-square feet at 130-feet wide and 28-feet tall, the screen is realistically detailed – which helps in the blending of all the effects, actors, props, and sets. You can see birds just flying off in the background in the distance as clear as day. The show features eight moving set pieces that range from a three-wheeled motorcycle, a tower in a Tangier marketplace, and the front entrance of a grand mansion. The interaction of the digital and physical also allows for some very awesome “cinematic” moments in the show, including crazy angle changes and a slow-motion set piece.
Practical effects help add another dimension; utilizing fire, smoke, and wind to immerse guests. Guests can feel gusts of wind from a helicopter overhead, the blast of a steam boiler, several explosions, and more.
According to Universal, The Bourne Stuntacular features some of the most advanced technology of its kind, including automated vehicle tracking systems, pinpoint-accurate projection mapping, and more.
As far as stunts – there are two high free-falls in the show – with one reaching 22 feet. Most of the impressive aspects of the show come from the actors performing with the automated traveling scenery, such as overhead on a helicopter, a wrecking ball, ladders, cars, and more. The performers and technicians have trained and rehearsed for more than eight months to prepare and learn the intricate technical systems and maneuvers, and it shows. The actual fight choreography is intricate but it does lack some pop in certain sets, as you don’t feel the power of the punch when it “connects”. It’s important to keep in mind that our review is based on our viewing of the 2nd official public show and the first show of the day during technical rehearsals. I know there will be kinks to work out, so these opinions can change by the time it officially opens.
In our opinion, Universal has added a solid, action-packed attraction that despite its simple story, features some of the most unique and exciting elements in a theme park attraction. The Bourne Stuntacular is the next evolution of stunt shows that without a doubt will entertain guests.