The Bourne Ultimatum
by Tony Medley
The Bourne franchise was born, you should pardon the expression, in 2002
with The Bourne Identity. Although it brought in $213 million
worldwide and is number 294 on the all-time gross list, I didnít like
it, rating it only 3/10. It was pretty much lacking in suspense, was
unrealistic, and had a laughably implausible car chase.
Despite the money it made, and the resurrection of star Matt Damonís
career that resulted, Universal saw the light and replaced director Doug
Liman with Paul Greengrass for the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy
(2004). Results were instantaneous as this one climbed to 184 on the
all-time list and brought in $288.5 million worldwide.
Universal hit a home run with Greengrass, who is, for my money, the best
action director alive today. In fact, I would have given him the Oscarģ
in 2004 for his work on ĎSupremacy. Greengrass returns for The
Bourne Ultimatum. Like the other two, thereís really no story. Itís
still Jason Bourne (Damon) trying to find out who he really is, on the
run with the entire world after him. Since bad guy Brian Cox (Ward
Abbott) got killed off in the last one, this time itís Noah Vosen (David
Strathairn) whoís trying to kill off poor old Jason, much to the dismay
of Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), who works for Noah.
Jason hooks up again with Nicky Parsons (Julia Styles), and I was glad
about that because she is real easy to look at.
This starts out like itís a 9-second 100-yard dash and the pace just
gets faster as it goes along, aided immeasurably by John Powellís
upbeat, high-tension music. There is not one single second of slowness
But itís not all just music, Greegrass uses quick cuts, and out-of-focus
and hand-held cameras to perfection and the editing by Christopher Rouse
is Oscarģ-quality. This is a movie that is what it is because, in large
part, of what was done in the editing room. The cinematography (Oliver
Wood) of the romantic locales (like Tangier, Paris, London, and New York
City) is gorgeous. I generally donít like CSI-type close-ups, but
Greengrass and Wood use super close-ups here to great advantage.
This is just simply nonstop action and suspense. Unlike Liman,
Greengrass knows how to film a car chase. Maybe the car chases are
pretty implausible, but they are so spectacular, they kept me involved,
reminiscent of Bullitt (1968) and The French Connection
(1971), and thatís high praise, indeed. In fact, when I drove home I had
trouble keeping my speed down below what it should have been.
The stunts are terrific, highlighted by a chase across the rooftops in
Tangier, and a fight between Bourne and an assassin that takes a couple
of minutes onscreen, but took two weeks to film. Youíll know it when you
If you like films where the protagonist is on the run, but always seems
a couple of steps ahead of his pursuers, lots of action, good-looking
people, despicable bad guys, and intensity that never lets up, you
wonít do better than this.
August 1, 2007