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STUDIO: Universal Studios
RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes
- Deleted scenes
- Man on the move: Jason Bourne featurette
- Rooftop Pursuit featurette
- Planning the Punches featurette
- Driving School featurette
- New York Chase featurette
- Commentary by director Paul Greengrass
Bourne comes home. Ambulances / morgues / insurance agencies standing by.
Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine.
“OK, your new hairstyle looks good. With any luck, you’ll be able to make a clean getaway.”
“Have you ever helped a woman go into hiding like this”
“How did it work out for her?”
“Did I mention I like your new hairstyle…”
Rounding out the Bourne series is this thrilling final chapter in the life of an amnesiac assassin (Damon), looking to fill in the blanks of his former life while avoiding members of his former agency who seek to kill him before he gets those answers. Helping Bourne this time out are allies within the agency, Pamela Landy (Allen) and Nicky Parsons (Stiles), and leading the effort to eliminate him is rogue deputy director Noah Vosen (Strathairn). His quest takes him from Europe to Northern Africa and finally his home turf of New York City. Bourne is determined to find the answers to his identity and his past that have haunted him for three years, but when he finally has those questions answered, he may find that he doesn’t like the truth they represent.
“Bourne, don’t be a fool. I can help you. What? Uh…I’m wearing a blue blouse, why?…Yes, I’m wearing a bra…no underlace…and lace panties…no black lace…really, you like that?…What else do you like?…”
If you need me to tell you just how friggin excellent this trilogy of movies has been over the last five years, the movie series that clearly brought about the rebirth of 007 as a grittier, no nonsense ass-kicker in 2006’s Casino Royale, then I have nothing but pity for you. The Bourne franchise has not only reinvented the spy drama into a hard-hitting and exciting genre that relies on story and characterization equally as much as great action, it’s also reinvented how we looked at Matt Damon. Damon, who was already one of the best actors working today, has transformed himself into a thoughtful, empathetic, deliberate and fantastic action hero. He’s made us rethink what the entire genre should be and as of right now, Jason Bourne is his most dynamic and signature character. Up until the aforementioned Royale, when you thought spy, you thought Bond. Now you think Bourne.
“Okay, Bourne’s coming for me. Make sure we have that battalion of Marines, a dozen Navy SEALS, a squad of ninjas, the last ten heavyweight Ultimate Fighting Champions, and a couple of Sherman tanks standing by. What? A howitzer? Yeah, keep that in reserve in case all the other shit just pisses him off…”
I’m going to admit that despite recognizing the flaws of the recent 007 movies, I rather liked Brosnan’s take on the character. But it’s easy to see that when you get an invisible Aston Martin, CGI windsurfing on a glacier and a terrible performance by Berry as the Bond Girl, a change was definitely needed. The same year that Die Another Day came out, The Bourne Identity burst onto the scene and clearly outclassed Day. Identity harkened back to the gritty spy thrillers of yesteryear where story and characterization took precedent over cute gadgets and bottom-of-the-barrel one-liners. Along with its sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, Damon and director Paul Greengrass not only raised the bar for the genre, they damn near launched it into space. The result for 007 was Casino Royale which, at the very least is top three of the entire bond series, and at most is the best one ever made. The influences from Bourne are patently obvious – for the better I might add.
In retrospect, giving Bourne a job as a parking lot attendant may not have been the wisest move…”
Now we arrive at the third film in the Bourne series: The Bourne Ultimatum. And it’s at least as good as the other two, although out of all three, I’m kind of partial to Identity the most. Nevertheless, this is just a kick-ass film, wrapping up the compelling story of how former soldier David Webb becomes the unstoppable assassin, Jason Bourne. The first thing that should be noted is that Ultimatum picks up right after Supremacy and keeps the action and the story rolling right along from that film into this one. There’s also a damn clever use of timeline from Supremacy into Ultimatum that I can’t spoil under penalty of death, but you’ll know it when you see it if you haven’t already. It’s a great hook from the second film to the third and ties them together like few sequels before.
…however, he was quite dedicated as a UPS delivery guy…
Everything that clicked from the first two movies is back with Ultimatum in spades. Damon, who’s been looking beefier and beefier from movie to movie, is back and carrying the film on said beefy shoulders. Stiles and Allen are also back, and Greengrass returns to steer the franchise to its great conclusion. The signatures of the Bourne films, Bourne seeking answers, great fight scenes and a killer car chase are all here as well. Strathairn also comes onto the scene to pick up where Chris Cooper and Brian Cox left off as the slimy company men out to get Bourne before he gets them. Strathairn is a guy who has been doing really solid character work his entire career and its nice to see him get much more of a leading role this time out to display the skill that fans of his work already knew he had. Joan Allen also returns to do her typically excellent work as well. She really clicks as Landy and if I may say so, Allen is looking the hottest I’ve ever seen her in these films.
Of course virtually no film series is perfect, although Bourne is about as close as it gets. One thing that kind of took me out of the movie a bit is Nicky Parsons’ return. It’s not that I didn’t want to see her again. In fact, I’m glad that she was back in it as I liked both the character and Stiles’ portrayal of her. It’s just that Parsons was back for a solid reason in Supremacy and here in Ultimatum, out of all the places she could have been working in Europe, she gets assigned to the one place that Bourne is going to to find Daniels, the guy who headed up Blackbriar, at the exact time that Bourne shows up there. And then later, in a diner, there were hints that there used to be something between her and Bourne when he was Webb, that wasn’t ever hinted at in the previous two films. In fact at one point in Supremacy, Nicky was eager at the prospect that Bourne could be taken out and even terrified by him as well when he abducted her. Yet here, she was more than willing to help him and highly empathetic to his plight. Based on what I saw of her character before, it just didn’t seem to play.
“Man, I don’t like the look of this neighborhood. I hope I’ll be safe…”
Also, Greengrass has gotten a bit of heat for his herky-jerky handheld camera work and blipvert cutting during Bourne’s most critical fights. If you compare Bourne’s smackdowns with Jarda (Martin Csokas) in Supremacy and Desh (Joey Ansah) in Ultimatum as done by Greengrass to Castel (Nicky Naude) as done by director Doug Liman in Identity, I think it’s safe to say that you get a better sense of the fight as a whole as Liman shot it than Greengrass shot the subsequent two. Personally, I damn near got whiplash with the Jarda fight. Although he did tune it down a bit for the Desh fight. That’s about the only gripe I have with Greengrass as a filmmaker. He took over for Liman with the last two films and not only kept the spirit alive of Liman’s take on the genre, but ran with it and expanded it admirably.
(Note: I had most of this review written before the Oscars. Considering which way the Best Editing little gold statue went, I guess that pretty much invalidates the previous paragraph…unless you take the opinion of the Motion Picture Academy over mine of course…)
I’d say overall that Ultimatum is sandwiched in the middle of Identity and Supremacy in terms of enjoyability. But if Supremacy is the so-called “worst” of the three films in the series, well then you know where this franchise stacks up in terms of other action and thriller franchises. The Bourne Ultimatum is an absolutely solid film all around, just like the entire franchise.
This is also an excellent DVD in terms of look and the OScar-winning sound, with plenty of special features to keep you entertained for hours. First off, there’s over 12 minutes of deleted scenes, that aren’t the usual throwaway tripe. A lot of these scenes give some crucial info as to the background workings of Blackbriar and how Bourne gets caught up with journalist Simon Ross. There’s also an alternate take between Pam Landy and Noah Vosa where he explains what Blackbriar is. There’s some good scenes here that, while ultimately expendable, still fill in some of the blanks to the story nicely. Man on the Move: Jason Bourne is a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes focusing on the location shooting for Bourne’s varuious travels, including Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid and Tangier. Also some good stuff there.
“So what are you going to go do now, David?”
“There’s this guy Affleck whose ass I have to go kick…”
Rooftop Pursuit is another behind-the-scenes of the rooftop shooting in Tangier that runs about five minutes. Planning the Punches is a five minute piece on the Tangier fight between Damon and Joey Ansah, who plays Desh. I actually could tell most of what was going on here better than in the movie itself. Driving School runs three minutes and features Damon in New Jersey learning how to make cars do neat little spinouts and stuff. New York Chase is a ten-minute piece on the chase of Bourne in the police car threw the streets of Manhattan. Finally, there’s a feature commentary from director Paul Greengrass. Some really good features here.