Reviews & Previews - The Bourne Ultimatum

Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 at 06:00 PM

The Bourne Ultimatum

By: S. Tran

Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Davis Strathairn, Joan Allen
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Running time: 111 min
Rated: PG-13

Rebel Without a Pause

Dang, I spent 10 minutes trying to create that punchline and I'm not even sure anyone under the age of 20 will even get it. Anyway it doesn't really matter because I just saw The Bourne Ultimatum and it was an ass kicking, smash 'em up good time that was also, as Matt Damon might say, "wicked smaht" as well.

This is the third of the Bourne series and Damon is back as the Jason Bourne, our favourite amnesiac, robo-killer with a conscience. The movie picks up right where the last one ended and doesn't waste any time with the pleasantries. From the get go Damon begins his Forest Gump-like run around the world alternating between chasing and getting chased.

The chase scenes are amazing for the sheer amount of screen time they consume. Unlike other reviewers I don't agree that these are the best chase scenes we've ever seen. The foot chase in the last Bond movie still beats the one here for excitement and the "wow" factor, but they are impressive. Greengrass has a knack for keeping the foot pressed to the accelerator and the London metro scene will be one to be studied for a while.

While the hand held camera look of the film helps create energy, Greengrass does over do it a bit in some of the quieter scenes were it looked like he just forgot to hold it still. Also, the up close shots during the fight scenes took away from the great fight choreography. As an example check out the fight scene in the Paris apartment in the first film and compare it with the fight scene in the apartment in Tangier to see what I mean. Overall though Greengrass keeps the movie going and creates a tight action filled sequel.

With some franchises the later sequels can get a bit tiresome because we see the same actors in the same role. The fact that this is the third movie and Bourne still hasn't gotten his memory back would suggest that this may be even more true with the Bourne films. With Damon though, I found that I like him more and more with each sequel, like he is really growing into the role. Its true that the Bourne character doesn't give an actor much of an opportunity to do much more than brood, but somehow that isn't a problem with Damon handling the character. He is the poor man's secret agent and we appreciate him for his journeyman efforts. For him there are no fancy cars, just stolen ones. He has to kill people with Bic pens and books not laser watches.

Stiles is back as Nicky Parsons, who somehow manages to get herself assigned to the very office that Bourne has to go to in order to find out more about his past. I like Stiles and she does a good job even though she still doesn't have a lot to do. Joan Allen is also back as Pamela Landy, a CIA director trying to help Bourne evade a corrupt CIA operative played by Strathhairn.

The movie abounds with a lot of very cool sounding secret agent type talk which creates that mood and tension necessary for a film of this genre. It doesn't matter that a phrase like "Ok people this is a mission priority" actually sounds kind of hokey after the fact. When it's used in the film its appropriate and effective even though we've heard variations like it dozens of times in dozens of movies.

I also like the fact that Bourne is more realistic than a lot of the films out there and much smarter that most movies. There are few really glaring plot holes to ruin the story. By realistic I don't mean that Bourne falls down every time he stubs his toe. Instead I am referring to the way he gets around and the small things he does to accomplish his goals. To avoid cameras Bourne doesn't need to shine a laser at each camera while hacking into the security headquarters on his laptop over a pay phone line. Instead he just looks at where they are pointing and finds the blind spots. I understand that in "real" life he would likely be dead after the first chase scene, but it would be tough having any kind of film like this if everything was totally realistic.

In keeping with the realism the writers also gave a lot of thought into giving us plausible and smart plans that Bourne uses. Unlike Ocean's 13, the writers here didn't get lazy and throw in some stupid stunts that would never work. Instead, Bourne's plans are simple yet totally efficient and I could tell the audience appreciated the cleverness.

Make no mistake this is an action film and not a lot of time is spent on developing the characters, but you probably won't have much time to wonder about it as the 111 minutes goes by pretty fast.


4 out of 5 stars.


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