Sunday, August 12, 2007
I am on a roll. I made it out to see The Bourne Ultimatum yesterday, and I think that means I've made it to 3 movies this summer. I'm on fire. And am I glad I made it to this one. This is the first movie (of the whopping 3) that I've gone to this summer that I have no hesitation in saying was great. The Bourne movies aren't super complicated, though it can seem that way when you have all the cat and mouse games going in between Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and the various CIA operatives and assassins that populate these films. When you get right down to it, this is a pretty simple film. If you have seen the previous Bourne movies then you already know the basic plot: Jason Bourne is one deadly amnesiac. Okay, maybe I'm oversimplifying things. But I guess that's one of the things I liked about this particular movie; it's intelligent without trying to throw in too much. It alternates between heavy duty action sequences and essential plot-moving dialogue at a virtually flawless pace. The jittery camera work that was distracting in the second film seems more contained in this one and mostly at the beginning. If you have read the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum you might expect to have some idea of what this movie is about, but it's only loosely based on Ludlum's books anymore. That really bothered me in the second film because I felt the deviations were unnecessary. But in this third installment it isn't as much of a factor. In fact, this one seems to back to the basics of the book insofar as Jason Bourne is again focused on finding out who he really is. Picking up directly where the second movie, The Bourne Supremacy, left off, Bourne is thrown directly back into action. After stumbling across an article in The Guardian, a British newspaper that names him personally as a CIA operative and hints at knowledge of Bourne's past, he immediately sets out to find the journalist, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine), who wrote the article--one of a series that promises more information. Naturally the CIA is already aware of the article and they assume that Jason Bourne is feeding Ross information. Once Bourne tracks down Ross he immediately notices the CIA surveillance but chances a confrontation in order to find out what Ross knows. I don't want to give away too much information at this point because I am truly hoping most of you get the chance to see this movie. And what passes from this point is predictable in that we know Jason Bourne is going to be fighting off the CIA and their assassins. We know we're going to see spectacular fight scenes and some pretty great car chases. But what you don't know is that the movie shows a more vulnerable side to Bourne's character. Sure, in the first film we saw Bourne in a vulnerable situation: not knowing his identity or anything about his past. But in this one Bourne has an idea of who he was and he's struggling to make peace with it. He's getting flashbacks of memory that are unsettling and there are moments in which he seems truly disturbed by what he is capable of. I also feel that perhaps the latest James Bond movie, Casino Royale, influenced the tone of this film a bit. There are similar moments in both films in which we see a man's struggle with the aftermath of what he has been forced to do. But I still feel that The Bourne Ultimatum is a better movie for taking some cues from Casino Royale. But Jason Bourne is not Bond-- and I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I think Matt Damon is excellent in the role. He brings great intensity to the part and I think he is very credible. He seems like a guy who could be that tough, that smart and at the same time, that uncertain. The stunts are also very satisfying. I loved that they were big and fast paced without going over the top in the way the stunts did in Live Free or Die Hard- a fun, but very unrealistic movie. Granted, there are stunt sequences in which you're pretty sure any normal human would be completely obliterated. But in movie terms it was realistic enough to keep you involved and gripping your seat. So if you guys get lucky enough to make it out to 3 movies this summer, try to add The Bourne Ultimatum to the list. It definitely gets a thumbs up from me.