Sunday, August 5, 2007

Movie review: The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum starts off right where The Bourne Supremacy ends, with director Paul Greengrass back at the helm, Matt Damon's Jason Bourne on the run from the CIA and the audience ready for another two hours of non-stop, camera-jerking action and suspense.

As one might expect, since the director, writers and actors have all returned for another bout, The Bourne Ultimatum stands up close to the quality achieved by its predecessor. Personally, I consider Supremacy to be one of the best action movies ever, and Ultimatum ranks pretty high on the list - but not as high. The movie is fast paced, action packed and intelligent, and also features the addition of one of my favorite actors, David Strathairn. The combination of the compelling soundtrack, gritty camera movements and non-stop attention to detail make it the best sequel of the summer, and that's saying a lot given the amount of high-brand sequels that have been unleashed upon audiences in the last couple of months.

Greengrass is quickly growing to become one of the best action/suspense directors around. Everything he touches turns to gold, from the gritty drama Bloody Sunday to the amazingly tense United 93, which should have received even more acclaim than it did. His ability to build and maintain suspense without cheating the audience is unrivaled, and, especially in the Bourne movies, he shows that action and smarts can go hand-in-hand. When the camera is on Bourne, you can literally see the spy breaking down his surroundings and building strategies in real time. When the action comes, it is fast, brutal and well choreographed. And when there is no action... well, when is there no action?

Damon once again shows that he can play bad ass hero. Some people still mock him for playing an action star, and I ask if they've ever watched the Bourne movies. He's gotten increasingly better with each film, and the trend continues here.

All that being said, since I am a big fan of both the Bourne movies and books, I have to point out a few minor issues I had with this film. First off, the plot isn't anything remarkable - it is almost too simple, though the writers and directors pull it off quite well. I don't quite get why this black hat operational team, led by David Strathairn, would want to just assassinate the CIA official who was leaking secrets - wouldn't they want to learn his motives and see if he had given the information to anyone else? Some of the plot developments, like that, weren't completely fleshed out. Furthermore, the film ends rather abruptly and not as explosive as I was hoping.

Lastly, once again, I'm disappointed the writers didn't take more pieces from the books. While the third book in Robert Ludlum's series wasn't the greatest, they still could have created a plot revolving around the real reason for Jason Bourne's existence - to weed out and kill Carlos the Jackal. Carlos, the main villain in all three of Ludlum's original trilogy, has yet to make an appearance in the Bourne franchise. If there is a fourth film, please, please, please (and please!) make the plot revolve around Carlos the Jackal. How awesome would that be?

My complaints aside, The Bourne Ultimatum is still a great action movie. It is intense and gritty, everything an action movie should be. A more developed story and a better ending would have set this one ahead of Supremacy, but it's still one of the best action movies of the last several years, if not longer.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I agree that the Bourne Ultimatum was gritty and fast paced but I couldn't get past the choppy camera work. I almost consider it a given that the plot will be simplistic, but man oh man did I need to ralph while watching this movie.