Mania Grade: A-
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- Rated: PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action
- Cast: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, and Albert Finney
- Writer: Robert Ludlum (novel), Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns, George Nolfi (screenplay)
- Director: Paul Greengrass
- Distributor: Universal Studios
- Original Year of Release: 2007
- Extras: Commentary by: Director Paul Greengrass. Deleted scenes. 5 Featurettes: Man on the Move, Jason Bourne (scenes from Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid and Tangier locations), Rooftop Pursuit, Planning the Punches, and Driving School and New York Chase.
By Robert T. Trate
December 10, 2007
© Universal Studios
When last we left Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) he was disappearing down a New York City street. ‘Bourne Ultimatum’ actually begins back in Moscow during the ‘The Bourne Supremacy’. Apparently Bourne had a flashback of the man who made him into what he is and Bourne finally sees his face. It may jostle you around bit, because the final scene of the ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ had a great scene with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) revealing Bourne’s name, birthday, and she offered him a chance to come in. That scene happens all over again but its meaning, both then and now, are completely different. We jump back six weeks in time with Bourne before he came to New York to see Landy, where he is on the trail of a London reporter (Paddy Considine) who is running a story called “Who is Jason Bourne?” You might at first feel cheated. As if they are inserting a story between the final moments in Moscow and the final moments in New York during the ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ but they aren’t. Paul Greengrass (the director) is taking us on another ride that finally leads to all the answers that both Bourne and the audience have been looking for.
When I first saw the trailer for ‘The Bourne Identity’ I thought the premise was interesting enough. Basically James Bond wakes up and can’t remember who he is. The second film in the Bourne series gave me the impression, based on the trailer, that “Bond” was being framed. After watching both the films, Jason Bourne is not James Bond. Bond always has back up, a gadget and help, something that will get him out of danger. What is so appealing about the Bourne films and the third one in particularly is that Bourne is totally on his own. He is more than just an “asset” (CIA name for an assassin) he is a problem solver that doesn’t have to kill to stay alive. His problem (since he woke up in the water in ‘The Bourne Identity’) is “who am I” and “who did this to me”. The answers are finally here. They take place over the course of the movie but it does fall all into place for Bourne. There is the revelation of the “father figure” so this will end it for this story arc of who is Jason Bourne.
What is amazing about this Bourne film, like the two others, is the supporting cast. Joan Allen returns as the tough as nails, clear headed, straight forward Pamela Landy. Like in the second film, she is clearly one of the good guys. However, much like the first two Bourne films the bad guys are these old men in sterile offices making phone calls to other old men in offices. Now I am not taking anything away from Scott Glenn, David Strathairn, or Albert Finney. It’s just after two movies of untrustworthy men in power it would have been a great change of pace for someone to not be totally bad. Clearly though this is David Strathairn movie to shine. His scenes with Allen are just as tough, just as quick, and just brutal as are the hand to hand fights with Bourne and who ever is trying to kill him. I mean this in a good way. Their performances in the offices and on the phone give layers upon layers that there is some much more going on and that Treadstone isn’t as buried as Landy thought it was. Strathairn clearly needs to be in more films of this nature because brings the heavies up a notch.
The action in the film is tight, in your face and completely chaotic. Between a roof top chase/ rescue and a car chase in New York City there is more than enough action for the action junkie in all of us. What I found to be the best part of the entire Bourne series and perhaps even his best character trait is his ingenuity and problem solving abilities that always lead into a great hand to hand combat sequence that is never one sided. Our hero pounding on yet another flunky is ever so boring but when Bourne looks into the eyes of his doppelgangers (Treadstone/ Blackbriar “assets”) he knows as do we that these are men just like he was, who are simply doing their job. So when the fight is over there is a little more waited added to Bourne’s shoulders. Moments where our hero has even a bit of remorse make him more relatable. Better than any super spy with a license to kill.
‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ really works on a whole in conjunction with the first two films. The story is now complete and if there is another film it will have to start anew because the arc of, “Who is Jason Bourne?” is now complete. This is more the thinking man’s action thriller and a satisfying conclusion to what is now a trilogy.
Will there be another Bourne movie? With Ludlum’s death in 2001 and no other Bourne book’s written by him the future looks doubtful. Damon said he was on board if the script is right, but with a Bourne video game slated for 2008, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Jason Bourne.
There are several action featurettes on the DVD but Paul Greengrass’s solo commentary track is the best special feature for the film. More often than not he points out the plot points and Bourne’s character development but it was him waiting for his favorite lines that displayed how much he really loved making the film. Greengrass wanted the film to keep its “gorilla style” film making and made every attempt at keeping the production small so it would have the same look and feel of the first two films. He didn’t want it to feel bigger and louder simply because it was the third one and they had more money and clout. He did praise Damon at the end for making a 21st century action hero who is relatable. Though I think that is ultimately up to the audience to decide.
As for the deleted scenes there is nothing that will really be missed. The majority of the scenes have to do with Allen’s character, mainly her taking the fall for what happened in the second movie. There is long scene with Scott Glenn; however I wasn’t sure if it took place at the beginning of the film or at the end.