5.10.2008

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

DIRECTED BY
Paul Greengrass


STARRING
Matt Damon - Jason Bourne/David Webb
Julia Stiles - Nicky Parsons
Joan Allen - Pamela Landy
David Strathairn - Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn - Ezra Kramer
Albert Finney - Dr. Albert Hirsch
Paddy Considine - Simon Ross

Year - 2007

Score - 4 Howls Outta 4


In my review for THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, I mentioned that the third [and final] part of any trilogy is the "take-no-prisoners" film, where bigger is better while leading to a satisfying conclusion to all of the questions that we've been asking since the first part. Since 2002's THE BOURNE IDENTITY, we've wondered who Jason Bourne was and why everyone wanted the guy dead, even if he wasn't doing anything necessarily wrong to his knowledge. Now five years later, we get THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, which will answers most of those questions and end the trilogy in such a way that we, as viewers, don't feel as if we waited our time watching the two previous films. So is THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM a satisfying end to Jason Bourne's story? A restounding YES.


PLOT
Taking place right after the end of THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) goes back into hiding to figure out his next step. Out of nowhere, a reporter for some British newspaper named Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) begins doing stories on Jason Bourne and he how he's related to a secret CIA black ops program named Treadstone [which was established in the last part] and how he's the key for finding the answers on another secret program called Blackbriar. With more questions than answers, Bourne decides to stop hiding and find out who he is and why so many government people are after him. Travelling all over Europe, Africa, and even New York City, Bourne meets up with two familiar faces: Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) and Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), who both want to help Bourne get out of this CIA mess the most non-violent way possible. As an corrupt government official, Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), does everything possible to undermine Pamela Landy's authority in order to kill Bourne so the secrets of Blackbriar are kept hidden, Bourne learns more and more about the government program that turned into a spy to begin with until he eventually regains his full memory back.

REVIEW
Three words: BEST. BOURNE. EVER. I don't know if it was the great audience I was sitting in, or if the film was just a blast to watch, or both. I really liked THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM and truly feel that this is the best Jason Bourne film of the three. You get the great action from THE BOURNE IDENTITY [the crowd was cheering like crazy over the stunts and car chases] and the great continuation of the story started in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY. The stunt people involved in this film deserve kudos for their fine work because the action in this film was simply incredible. While we finally got our first explosion in a BOURNE film, it wasn't over-the-top. It looked incredibly real and a lot of people gasped over it. The hand combat stuff was incredible to watch, as I was rooting for Matt Damon to kick some ass with books, towels, and anything else he could get a hold on. It was like watching THE TRANSPORTER, but less cartoonish or more brutally realistic looking. And the car scenes, especially the last one in New York with the NYPD police car - whoa, that was one intense fuckin' scene. I couldn't keep my eyes off on it and the crowd I was with loved every single second of it from beginning to end. Include me in that. Just visually impressive.

Paul Greengrass returns from the last film and I think he actually does a better job here than on THE BOURNE SUPREMACY. I think it helped since the script was the best of the three and we were allowed to see more development of the major characters, to which I could sympathize with all of them on some level. Of course, the shaky-cam effect is here more so than ever, but I didn't think it took too much away from the film. Actually, I think it enhanced it in most parts. Especially during the action sequences, which were really shaky and edited so quickly that you had to watch really closely to see everything unfold. I know a lot of people complain about it [it can be annoying to some], but I kinda liked the fact that through that shaky direction, Greengrass helped transport us into the shoes of Jason Bourne. Those jump edits and the constant shaking of the camera was like letting us watch through his eyes during these action sequences. We become Jason Bourne when the camera starts shaking while he kicks ass, and it creates a high level of tension and energy that most action films wished they had. The film looks unstable because Jason Bourne is unstable. The only time the direction actually settled was at the end when Bourne finally learned the truth. The direction becomes a character itself, and I really dug it. It was like one big rollercoaster ride that you didn't want to get off, and I loved Greengrass for it.

The acting was phenomenal here. Matt Damon once again proves he was born [no pun intended] to play Jason Bourne/David Webb. Damon has truly evolved as an actor and it helps evolve Jason Bourne's character at the same time. He could have played it the same for all three films if he wanted to, since the BOURNE films will make lots of cash nonetheless. But Damon really cares about the character and lets us into his psyche and his torment when he finally realizes who he is and how he became Jason Bourne. We don't judge this good guy who did bad things in order to succeed for his superiors. Damon makes us care about Bourne to the point where we just want the guy to find the truth, get back at these scumbags who wants him dead, and move on with his life so he can find peace. Damon is quite vicious [those fight scenes...wow!], as well, in this film and it's such a departure from those performances where he plays these nice guys you just want to love. I didn't know he had it in him, but lately with roles in THE DEPARTED and THE GOOD SHEPHERD, Damon has become truly versatile and just a pleasure to watch on screen. No one's worth a $20 million paycheck per film, but since it's a reality, I'm glad Damon is part of that club because he deserves it. If this is his last BOURNE film like he's been stating over and over again, what a way to go out. Matt Damon is one of the best actors in our generation, and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM just adds prudence to that.

Julia Stiles handles herself quite well with her larger role as Nicky Parsons. She doesn't have much dialogue, but her facial expressions and body language are extremely well-done and tell you what you need to know about her complex character. That's what you call acting, ladies and gentlemen. I'm just happy to know what he deal was with Bourne after three films and it made sense as to why she would help him in this film. She also has a very tensive chase scene as well that I enjoyed. Stiles is a good actress and I hope she continues to pick more good roles for herself. I liked her here.

Joan Allen also returns as Pamela Landy, continuing her more than fine work in the BOURNE Trilogy. Has this woman ever acted horribly in any film she's been in? Such a professional and she really steals every scene she's in. I love how she's treated as an equal among the men and she takes control without having to resort to seduction or manipulation. She tells you what to do and you do it. Simple as that. Intelligent women in control in action films are cool. Allen is definitely enjoying her role and sharing tense scenes with David Strathairn, who is an excellent actor in his own right. I'm really glad she became part of this cast because I feel something good would have been lost without her wonderful presence in the last two films.

And David Strathairn was great as the villainous Noah Vosen. He could have been a one-dimensional cliched action villain who wanted someone dead to keep secrets hidden, but Strathairn really brings out a personality in Vosen. He's scared of Bourne, intimidated by Landy, and desperate enough to push his power in order to get what he wants. His scenes with Allen are extremely intense and you could cut that tension with a knife. They really get under each other's skin and it's a pleasure to watch two actors in that kind of realistic exchange on film. You usually don't get that feeling in action films anymore. I wish Strathairn had shared a scene with Damon besides the conversation on the phone, because that would have been something to watch. But I enjoyed the character of Noah Vosen, adding another great actor [along with Chris Cooper and Brian Cox] to the list of Jason Bourne villains. Excellent casting for all three films. Just incredible.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE WATCHING THIS FILM

1) While escaping, don't leave blood prints on doors like it's Passover. Not only will it give away your location, but it's messy and you're wasting valuable blood that people can use. Especially if they're Type O.

2) You have to hope for the best and plan for the worst. If I had done that while watching TROLL 2, maybe I still wouldn't be suffering nightmares over it. Damn you, NILBOG!

3) The government seems to watch your every move. If that's true, they must have hundreds of hours of video footage of me playing with myself. The footage probably scares them more than knowing they see me doing it scares me. I take the term "minute man" to a whole new level, let me tell ya...

4) Jason Bourne makes a good tour guide. And women say us men don't know our left from our left. Ha!

Er...can someone tell me where my bathroom is? Anyone...? Damn, I guess I'm gonna be wetting the bed again...

5) The internet is a treasure trove of information. Without it, I wouldn't have learned how to perform "the footgargling windmill", the "buck-eyed wookie-puller", or "the snap-neck bulldonkey". Good times.

6) Jason Bourne and Nicky Parsons possibly had a romantic past that Bourne does not remember. I'm sure Whitney Houston wants that luxury. Who wouldn't want to forget being married to Bobby Brown? Or that "crack is cheap...crack is whack" interview? Actually, I wouldn't want to forget that last one. It's still pretty funny.

7) Julia Stiles is pretty good at evading danger. Must have been all that dance training for SAVE THE LAST DANCE.

8) Jason Bourne can jump from building to building without a sweat. And he doesn't need webs to do it. Take that, SPIDER-MAN 3!

9) That dude got his ass kicked with a book. And they say that words will never hurt you...

10) Jason Bourne likes driving cars off of roofs and smashing them into other cars below. Looks like a lot of people are getting good news for saving a whole bunch of money by switching to Geico.

THE FINAL HOWL

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM is a three-quel that is the exception to the rule by not sucking and actually being somewhat better than the two films that preceded it. The story is still interesting and intense, the action is a marvel to look at, and Matt Damon is has never been better in the role of Jason Bourne. I really enjoyed this one and I am so glad that I invested myself into these three films because they kicked ass from beginning to end. If this is the last BOURNE film ever made [probably not, though it won't be the same without Damon], then I'm happy with that. The audience I was with cheered at the end of this one and so will you. The best action film of 2007 is right here.

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