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Theatrical Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

In what seems to be right on the heels of The Bourne Supremacy, Jason Bourne is still on the run in Russia and now having flashbacks to his early indoctrination. A British reporter gets wind of everything going on with everything with the CIA and the program that gave us Bourne and is trying to uncover everything, leading to a new category of covert ops called Blackbriar within the CIA, but the CIA is on to that as well and thus begins the cat-and-mouse chase with The Bourne Ultimatum.

Paul Greengrass is back at the helm for this movie after handling the last film in the series. Greengrass gave us what I thought was last years best movie of the year with United 93. For the most part, I think he’s in fine form here, particularly with many of the film’s set pieces. The chases and fight scenes in this movie are absolutely convincing as hell, filmed in Greengrass’ shaky handheld camera style, they’re just a lot of fun to watch.

Unfortunately, there are some points in the movie where it just falls on tired Hollywood cliches- particularly that the people in charge of the CIA are, of course, older white men, that any of the women involved here are automatically good, and that the project that created Jason Bourne is intrinsically wrong by the fact of the remorse that he’s suffering from all of the killing that he’s done.

I look at the creation of Jason Bourne to have a lot of similarities with a comic book character, Captain America, except that Cap’s missions have always been portrayed as noble, whereas in the space of the Bourne films, there’s nothing that shows that any of the missions that Bourne performed before his memory loss had any good to them at all. Now for these movies, and Bourne’s state of mind within these films, that’s fine, but to just leave it at that to me anyway falls into a cliche (and make no mistake, the third film leaves it at that). The end result could still be the same, but ignoring the fact that under this project that Bourne may have indeed done good for the country, just seems to push an idea of governmental pessimism that’s certainly popular for the time, but still becoming now an endlessly tired cliche. Personally, I feel that as a citizen of this country, I want agents like Jason Bourne out there in the world.

No fault at all of the cast, all of whom are very good here. Matt Damon continues to show why he’s as good as he is with his earnest portrayal of Bourne and watching him in the action scenes he’s totally convincing that he can do all of the stuff that he’s doing. Joan Allen and Julia Stiles are back from the previous film and joining in with this film are actors David Strathairn, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn, all of course playing the “bad guys” of the piece, and I think doing a great job, but that little bit of balance that I mentioned above just isn’t present.

This is fine as it is, I know with the exception of a particularly bad audience that we had, I had a pretty good time overall with the film. But one wonders just how much more meaty this could’ve been had there been a little more balance shown to the ideas and execution of the ideas that created the project that created Bourne. This is a good series and it wouldn’t hurt it at all to do that, to gray the line more than to draw it out in pure black and white.

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

One reply on “Theatrical Review: The Bourne Ultimatum”

I’m really not a fan of Greengrass’s cinematography. I get it, he wants to shake the camera to make things seem more urgent. But not EVERY SINGLE THING can be of the utmost urgency; the man shakes the camera constantly during scenes where two people are sitting at a table drinking coffee. Forget “documentary style,” his camerawork is more like Parkinson’s style. I greatly prefer Doug Liman’s camerawork in Bourne Identity over that of Supremacy and Ultimatum for this reason.

And was it just me, or did Desh remind anyone else of Barack Obama?

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