Friday, October 12, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum

Year: 2007
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Albert Finney

You know, I should have reviewed The Bourne Supremacy before writing this, for your benefit. But I just don't have the luxury of watching that instalment at the moment, so I'll just focus on this.

However, what I will do, is give you a recap. In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne doesn't quite succeed in finding all the people who made him a killer, but he finds happiness in Marie, the girl who helped him evade his employers. In the sequel The Bourne Supremacy, the CIA botch one of their jobs with the Russians, who frame Bourne for it, then assign someone to kill him to tie up loose ends. But he survives and Marie ends up dead. Bourne goes after the CIA and the Russians and kills a few more people, including the man who killed Marie, and continues to suffer from the guilt of being an assassin.

And now, Matt Damon returns again as Bourne in Ultimatum. The CIA continue to hunt him down, as the Director of the agency, Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn), believes he is a threat to the country. But Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), the CIA officer from Supremacy, doesn't believe so. She thinks he's after something else.

Bourne on the other hand, comes across a newspaper article about him, written by a British journalist named Simon Ross (Paddy Considine), and arranges a meeting with him in order to learn who Ross' source is. Bourne's former employers, the upgraded Operation Blackbriar, led by CIA deputy director Noah Vosen are also after Ross for the same reason. They soon run into Bourne, and despatch one of their 'assets' to take out both Bourne and Ross. Bourne escapes but like everyone Bourne comes into contact with, Ross gets killed.

Bourne uses Ross' notes and traces his source to a man named Neil Daniels, and runs into his former handler, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles). She helps him follow Daniels to Tangier, as Vosen seeks Pamela's help to find Bourne. Things get sticky when Vosen learns that Nicky is helping Bourne and orders her execution. This is when Pamela realises that she isn't playing the same game Vosen is, and decides to get to the bottom of things. Bourne fails to save Daniels from getting assassinated by Vosen's 'asset', and returns to New York to learn about his past, face his 'creators' and put an end to them.

I have to admit, this is a wonderfully plotted, well executed action movie. I loved it. Truly. Paul Greengrass has done wonders with this supposedly final instalment of the Bourne series. True, his shaky handheld camerawork can be distracting at times, but in most ways, it works in bringing out the action the way it should be seen: personal, up close and in your face. Every blow in a hand-to-hand combat sequence, every crash in a car chase and every leap in a foot race can be felt. Best of all, the action doesn't overwhelm the drama and quieter moments in the film.

Damon does splendidly again as the troubled Bourne, who is as determined as ever to bring a sense of closure to his mystery. You are not going to see him smile or crack a joke, Bourne is all business, and he means it. And you can't find a better actor than Damon to pull it off. Stiles on the other hand, tries hard but doesn't quite have the screen presence to make her character memorable. Strathairn makes a good villain as Vosen, while Allen doesn't disappoint as Pamela Landy.

Another thing worth mentioning is the locations used in the film. The crew travelled to London, Tangier, Paris and New York, and the way they filmed in the middle of huge crowds is just amazing, especially in London where they filmed at the Waterloo train station. Imagine filming while being surrounded by huge crowds of hundreds of people. Credit goes to Greengrass and his camera team.

As usual, Moby's Extreme Ways plays during the closing credits, though it's a remix this time. Bah, they shouldn't have changed that! Anyway, great film, even better than Live Free Or Die Hard. (4.5/5)

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