The Bourne Ultimatum

"Good"

The Bourne Ultimatum Review


There are actually three screenwriters credited for The Bourne Ultimatum, though it's hard to imagine what exactly they all did to earn their paycheck. "You don't remember anything, do you?" "It's Bourne." "It ends here." [insert car chase] That doesn't mean that this third installment of the popular shaky-cam travelogue spy thriller series doesn't deliver all that it's intended to, and occasionally more, it just means that you're more likely to hear barked-out commands or the sound of squealing tires and shattering glass than two or more actors exchanging full sentences as part of a conversation. This is a film that asks exactly how much traditional storytelling structure can you cleave away and still have a coherent and engaging piece of work? The answer: Nearly all of it.

Coming off last year's abysmally underrated United 93, director Paul Greengrass thankfully returns for his second film in the series about the titular amnesiac CIA-trained assassin (Matt Damon) with identity issues. Although the resulting film is not nearly up to the hard-to-match bar set by the preceding film, The Bourne Supremacy, it's hard to imagine any other director currently working who would be able to keep the relentless pace delivered by Ultimatum. Unfortunately, it's also all too easy to see that the filmmakers and Damon are coasting when they could be soaring.

The stripped-down storyline that powers the film with motorized intensity concerns Bourne's identity. Having lost his girlfriend in the previous film, and spent a few years now running from various rogue CIA elements who want to eliminate an embarrassment before it can cause them any political damage, at film's start Bourne is now hot on the trail of his missing identity. It's clear that somebody inside the Agency is talking, as Bourne is reading stories about himself in The Guardian by an investigative journalist (Paddy Considine, nicely twitchy) who must have a highly placed source. Those previously mentioned rogue Agency elements are pretty hot to keep Bourne away from the secret program that created brainwashed killing machines like himself, and so the assassins -- a number of whom seem as relentlessly lethal and mindless as Bourne himself, an interesting twist -- come out of the wordwork to give chase in a variety of locations, from Tangiers to midtown Manhattan to an extended and exceptionally taut chase and surveillance sequence set in London's cavernous, clamoring Waterloo Station. Needless to say, by brains and brawn, Bourne burrows ever closer to discovering the true secret of his identity that's been eluding him as he races from one exotic European locale to another.

It would be ludicrous to say that The Bourne Ultimatum is not a thriller worth notice. Greengrass's hyperfluid direction and Oliver Wood's documentary-style cinematography make for an addictive mix, a pared-down action series for the post-9/11 era, where it's more about speed, lethality, and moral grey zones and less about cartoonish villains and sarcastic quips. But there's a limit to how far you can push this style, and this film flirts with that limit quite seriously. There are long stretches where little to no dialogue is provided beyond shouted directions to the thankless drones monitoring surveillance footage for the CIA as they track Bourne around the globe. Once Bourne gets closer to his target (the occasional pained flashback cutting in, giving glimpses of the training program that turned him into the killer he currently is), it's difficult to feel the necessary emotional impact for him, since the series has worked so hard at turning him into such a robotic entity.

It's much easier to impress an audience with masterfully assembled chases or killer martial arts moves -- and there's a couple of extraordinarily bruising fight scenes here that are unlike anything Hollywood has produced in quite a while -- than it is to get that audience to feel a human empathy for the man negotiating all that lethal territory. The audience may clap for Bourne when he executes a particularly smart maneuver (has there ever been a screen spy who has so flawlessly mixed graceful cunning with predatory nerve?) but will they feel for him when he's confronted by a woman he loved from the past but whom the amnesia has erased from his mind? Does it even matter? Probably not; a fourth film is most likely on the way, but it would be nice if, in the future, the filmmakers remembered that Bourne was human, and treated him as such.

Bourne to be wild.



The Bourne Ultimatum

Facts and Figures

Run time: 115 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd August 2007

Box Office USA: $227.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $227.5M

Budget: $70M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Motion Picture BETA Produktionsgesellschaft, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Ludlum Entertainment, Bourne Again, Angel Studios

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 224 Rotten: 15

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jason Bourne, as Nicky Parsons, as Noah Vosen, as Ezra Kramer, as Simon Ross, as Paz, as Dr. Albert Hirsch, as Pamela Landy, Tom Gallop as Tom Cronin, as Conrad Wills, as Martin Kreutz, as Desh Bouksani, Colin Stinton as Neal Daniels, Dan Fredenburgh as Jimmy, Lucy Liemann as Lucy, Bryan Reents as Technician, Arkie Reece as Technician, John Roberson as Technician, Russ Huards as Technician, Mark Bazeley as Betancourt, Sinead O'Keefe as Chamberlain, Chucky Venice as Agent Hammond, as Agent Kiley, Branko Tomovic as Russian Policeman, Laurentiu Possa as Russian Policeman, Trevor St. John as Tactical Team Leader, Albert Jones as Tactical Team Agent, Jeffrey Lee Gibson as Vosen's Driver, Uriel Emil Pollack as Morgue Attendant (as Uriel Emil), Omar Hernandez as NYPD Officer, William H. Burns as NYPD Officer, Michael Wildman as CRI Agent, Kai Martin as Hoody

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.