There is a lot going on in Jason Bourne, the newest film in the Bourne series. The movie, the fourth or fifth in the series (depends on your opinion of The Bourne Legacy) and the first in almost 10 years to star Matt Damon as the titular spy, is full of classic Jason Bourne moments. But it isn't just full of super spy action and thrills. In fact, one of the biggest threats posed in the movie comes from social media — more specifically, a Facebook-like site called Deep Dream that (spoiler alert!) the CIA is trying to use to invade people's privacy. Aaron Kalloor, the Deep Dream founder, plays a small, but important role in Jason Bourne, and his character has a lot of audiences wondering if Jason Bourne's Aaron Kallor is based on Mark Zuckerberg.
Played by Riz Ahmed in the film, Kalloor appears to be the Bourne universe equivalent to Zuckerberg, Facebook's famous founder. In the film, Kalloor is presented as a young tech tycoon, who went to Stanford and hit it big with his social media site. He is also, unfortunately, working with the CIA to help them spy on citizens and collect private information — something he's not all too comfortable with. His ambitions, young age, and social media connection was bound to draw comparisons to Zuckerberg, who is one of the best known internet titans, and it's certainly raising some eyebrows.
Like Zuckerberg, Kalloor finds himself at the center of a never-ending debate about privacy on the internet, and, like Zuckerberg, he's a bit murky on his stance. Facebook has had its share of security issues, but in 2016, Zuckerberg publicly supported Apple during its battle with the FBI over the encryption of a terrorist's iPhone. That said, the Facebook chief has also spoken about the responsibility to monitor and, yes, sometimes censor, content on social media. "We have a pretty big responsibility running this big network and community to help prevent terrorism and different kinds of attacks," Zuckerberg said at the Mobile World Congress during a talk with Wired. He added that, should the situation necessitate it, he would hope that Facebook would be able to "work with government... to make sure there aren't terrorist attacks."
So, Zuckerberg and Kalloor are both conflicted on the issue, but is Kalloor actually based on Zuckerberg? No one associated with the film has publicly stated outright if Kalloor is a fictional take on Zuckerberg, although both writer-director Paul Greengrass and Ahmed have spoken of the character in relation to Edward Snowden (Bustle has reached out to Universal for comment, but hasn't heard back at this time). For Kalloor, his involvement with the CIA pits privacy against security — a conflict we are all very much familiar with in the real world. It's that dichotomy between privacy and security online, not necessarily one person in particular, that apparently appealed to Greengrass.
"The conflict between social-media giants and the security demands of a nation seemed really interesting to me," Greengrass told the crowd at the Las Vegas premiere of Jason Bourne, via The LA Times. That said, the director made sure to state that he didn't base Kalloor or the specific conflict in Jason Bourne on real events, telling the crowd that he wanted the tension to be "relevant without being topical or political."
When talking about his character in an interview with The Guardian, Ahmed was equally vague and diplomatic. Instead of specifically mentioning any one person as a source for inspiration, he focused on the ideas his character represents: "anyone driving great social change, willingly or not, is going to be a fascinating contradiction of idealism and ego."
Jason Bourne's Kalloor might not explicitly be inspired by Zuckerberg — Ahmed is no Jesse Eisenberg and this movie sure isn't The Social Network — but the similarities are pretty undeniable.