The Bourne Ultimatum
Director: Paul Greengrass (United 93, Bourne Supremacy)
Novel: Robert Ludlum
Screenplay: Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns, George Nolfi
Producers: Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall, Paul Sandberg
Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez, Albert Finney, Joan Allen
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 111 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

reviewed by Andrew James
     I've never really held the fascination with The Bourne franchise as much as everyone else has. Sure, I've liked the films and sure they're a good time. But that's all there is to them - a fun action movie with not much depth or anything to say. Plus, after reading the original novel by Robert Ludlum, the movie was quite a let down. Having said all that, this newest evolution in The Bourne series is easily the best of the bunch.

possbile spoilers from PREVIOUS Bourne films mentioned
      All the regulars are back for this episode including Joan Allen and Julia Stiles. But on top of these, the casting department has put together a terrific assortment of character actors of the highest degree to pull together all the pieces of the puzzle brilliantly. We have the amazing David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck) as head of the CIA intel department who is hell bent on tracking Bourne and bringing him to "justice"; whatever the cost. We have Albert Finney (Big Fish, Erin Brockovich) playing a mysterious man of power that plays some role in Bourne's past. Also included is Patty Considine as a snooping reporter (also hot on Bourne's trail) and the great Scott Glen as the overseer of all CIA operations. Put these actors all together and at no time is there a moment on the screen when you don't recognize someone - which makes it an absolute ball.

      In this third installment, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still on the hunt for his true indentity and to find whoever set him up to become what he has become. With the death of his girlfriend in the previous film, he now has nothing to lose and can go full boar in hunting down the culprits. From Paris to Algiers and various other "glamorous" cities around the globe, Bourne must track clue after clue in an effort to find the "key" to his existence, before the gov't gets there first to destory all traces of Bourne's past. There are double crosses, treachery and twists galore that make this film fun to follow; even if it is really just another cat and mouse game of a movie.

      As fun as the film is, I couldn't help shake the feeling that I'd seen this all before. I had, it was called The Bourne Supremacy. In fact, it was almost as if they took the exact same film and just added a couple of new characters. The chase scenes are basically the same and even in the same environments with maybe just a tad more intensity (maybe). We have the obligatory fight sequence in an apartment with Bourne's equal in terms of martial arts expertise (guess who wins that one?) and of course he uses the same exact tactics when talking on the phone to the CIA. You would think that Joan Allen would realize by now that whenever Bourne calls her, she should look out the window to see him (how many times can this be done?). So as fun and engrossing as this film is, it's the EXACT same as part 2. I literally remember thinking, "have I seen this before?"

      The action scenes are intense and well put together. Greengrass has taken everything he did in part 2 and pushed it to the limit. The chase scene is the same but with a higher intensity, the fist fight scene is the same but with more ferocity and the car crashes employ the same style and pinache, but with more twisted metal. Even though I saw it before, it's still heart pounding and exhilerating.

      Greengrass is a master with the hand held camera technique. It was used absolutely brilliantly in the best film of 2006, United 93, to make everything believable and put us right into the action. With Bourne, it works alright with the action sequences, to a point; but when two characters are just having a quiet conversation in an apartment, the bouncing camera is just annoying. Also, much of the film is spent in densely populated areas. The camera is amongst the crowd and in between pillars and kiosks. It's so frantic that I was never able to tell where I was or where the characters were. Fortunately, although this directing style doesn't work at all (or arguably works too well), the thrust of the sequence is usually so engrossing that it almost doesn't matter.

      As many problems as there are with the movie (redundancy, ridiculous amounts of shaky cam, not much character depth, no sense of spacial perspective), it also has plenty of strengths. The acting excels, the action is gripping and the story itself is very much left wide open for further adventures with Jason Bourne.

      Watching Damon as Bourne himself is a real treat. The non-chalantness he has with almost everything he does really brings forth a great character that Damon really brings to life. He is, surprisingly, a truly great action hero. He is cool, calm, collected, wicked smart and can physically destroy any human obstacle that gets in way; no matter what the numbers. Recently I equated John McClane of the Die Hard franchise to a more human version of The Terminator. Jason Bourne is even more so. He is like a machine that will not and cannot be stopped. The intracacies with which he plans every move is a joy to behold.

      So while I really do think the series is over rated by fans and critics alike, I did really enjoy this third installment of the Bourne chronicles and believe it to be the best of the bunch. It is probably the best action movie of the year so far despite it's many flaws. Four stars for the ever popular, Jason Bourne.

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