Review: THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 8 August 2012



The trailer may have been smacked with the same old deja vu feeling of THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002) but what can I say, this by-the-book sequel is nevertheless a refreshing alternative to the hyperkinetic spy thrillers in which everything spells "over-the-top".

The premise is more than less the same thing the first movie offered before, but only in different situations: Amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still struggling to piece out every fragmentary clues about his mysterious and scary past and he has been laying low with his girlfriend, Maria (Franka Potente) somewhere in the beach at Goa. Unfortunately their hideout isn't matter anymore when Bourne spots a stranger, Kirill (Karl Urban) who is actually a contract killer looking for him. In the ensuing pursuit that ends up their jeep send crashing down through the bridge and knocked into the river, Bourne loses the drowning Marie and manages to escape. With nothing else to lose, he determines to find out who ordered the hit and make them pay.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, a covert operation runs by veteran CIA agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) goes terribly awry, causing two agents dead and several million in U.S. government funds missing. The only evidence left is a single fingerprint found at the scene leads to a CIA database attached to a project called Treadstone. Landy's security clearance doesn't begin to warrant access to the Treadstone files, but she won't give up until she finds out what's really in them. Her investigation involves the theft of some $20 million in CIA funds, and her team was chasing a rumor that the culprit was a CIA insider and that Russian oil tycoon Gretkov (Karel Roden) was somehow involved. Soon she learns that Treadstone was actually a top-secret black op shut down after rogue Jason Bourne stopped following orders and started thinking for himself. The fingerprint is Bourne's, and needless to say, Landy recruits Bourne's old contact, Nicolette (Julia Stiles) and former Treadstone leader Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) to help her trap Bourne, who's after both the mysterious assassin and whoever responsible for framing him.

Although Tony Gilroy's screenplay bares little resemblance to Robert Ludlum's 1986 novel, the second installment in his Bourne trilogy, which involves a plot to plunge China into calamitous civil war, the story remains engaging enough to sustain interest.

Director Paul Greengrass, who has critics raving all over him with his much-acclaimed documentary, BLOODY SUNDAY (2002), taking over for THE BOURNE IDENTITY original director Doug Liman (who is supposed to helm the sequel but backed out due to "creative indifference"), made his first feature film debut. Paul Greengrass has nevertheless surprised everyone (including me) that he has a knack to helm a motion picture. He keeps the action believable, yet intense enough to keep audiences on the edge of their seat. Although this sequel doesn't follow suit of a typical Hollywood formula where "bigger and more" isn't the preferred criteria, Greengrass brilliantly uses the taut gimmick that once made the 70s spy thrillers such a captivating cinematic experience and has successfully made the tone both equally thought-provoking, paranoid and suspenseful.

What makes this sequel a plus is Greengrass's shaky camerawork that constantly lifted the otherwise typical spy thriller a realistic thrill ride. Although his unconventional filmmaking method will likely cause headache for most mainstream viewers, particularly the way he uses lots of close-up technique and quick cuts that I must admit most of the time the film tends to be irritating to look at. Still the level of excitement is top-notch, especially the much-talked about taxi chase sequence at downtown Moscow is nevertheless worth the price of admission alone. Again, Greengrass's oft-mobile camerawork keeps the particular chase scene so engaging you will keep holding your breath while anticipating how is it going to end.

Likewise the cast is uniformly excellent. Matt Damon shines again as the relentless Jason Bourne in which he just getting better with his character. The rest of the cast are equally superb, with each of the characters from the first film are now given bigger roles -- Brian Cox is as slick as usual, Julia Stiles is credible while newcomer to the BOURNE films, Joan Allen, gives an engaging performance as a relentless CIA honcho who won't rest until she accomplish her mission.

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