Review: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 8 August 2012



Rarely in the case of Hollywood blockbuster that "more of the same thing" or better yet, a deja vu experience are capable to be equally entertaining from both point of view. I'm talking about Robert Ludlum's highly-successful espionage thriller that deals with amnesiac ex-spy Jason Bourne, in which Doug Liman's THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002) raked in $121 million in the box-office, and Paul Greengrass's sequel, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY upstaged the original with an impressive $176 million in the box-office.

This third and presumably final installment of "Bourne" trilogy, Paul Greengrass returns to the director's seat in THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM and injects the same old deja vu feeling he has done successfully the first time around in the sequel. Make no mistake, the movie barely exceeds beyond its mediocre level and it doesn't takes a genius to figure that out as it clearly doesn't mess with the winning formula around. But something about the way Greengrass makes this otherwise routine espionage action thriller into surprisingly above-average: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM is non-stop kinetic entertainment that fueled with lots of adrenalin-pumping thrills without resulting into (much) sense for suspension of disbelief (note: 2007's LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) and sacrificing its characters into cardboard cutouts.

Like the first two installments before it, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) remains on the run and he's determined to continue his gruelling journey to dig out his mysterious past. After a tragic death of Maria (Franka Potente) in Goa during assassination attempt and sorted some of his unfinished business with the bad guys three years ago in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, Bourne is now fleeing to Moscow where he is wanted by the law enforcement. When Bourne begins to experience a fragmented series of painful flashbacks involving him joining a secret training program called Treadstone, he is about to come close to the truth.

Then came a series of newspaper articles by London's The Guardian journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) attempting to break a highly-classified story about "Operation Blackbriar" where he gets the source within the intelligence community. Bourne locates him there and contacts Ross to set up a secret meeting at Waterloo Station. In the meantime, CIA director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn) sends out Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) to head the operation in getting Bourne and anyone connected to him. A globe-trotting world of espionage terror ensues after Bourne manages to dig scraps of information from Ross about "Operation Blackbriar" that will eventually lead him to Turin where he reconnects with CIA agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) before going to Tangier and finally coming home to New York. There he will later encounters righteous CIA investigator Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) and learning further about the truth behind his true identity.

Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi's adapted screenplay is strictly by-the-books and especially minimal where storytelling is as economical as possible, while the dialogue isn't much favorable as well. Still, all the loose ends that has been hanging by the threads over the last two installment are neatly tied up and director Greengrass works up his engaging visual flair to the maximum point.

Using the same shaky-camerawork technique he employed in the sequel, he manages to craft some of the most intense and spectacular cat-and-mouse chase sequences ever committed in the film. That includes a nail-biting moment at the Waterloo Station where Bourne tries everything to outwit the shadowy agents in favor to meet face to face with Ross for information and a breathtaking car chase scene in the crowded New York City which is absolutely an edge-of-your-seat crowd puller. But the movie's biggest highlight is an amazing, tour de force chase through Tangier's twisty, hilly streets and narrow passages of the old Medina beginning with Bourne escaping the local police with motorcycle, before running over rooftops and leaping over the windows across the adjoined building, and finally engaged in a brutal, hand-to-hand combat with his pursuer, Paz (Edgar Ramirez) in a tiny bedroom and finishes him off in a cramped bathroom. The result is particularly a marvel of astonishing technique that does the rarity: the multiple action scene feels as real as it gets without being cartoonish or over-the-top.

Despite its consistent momentum that keeps you hooked at all time, there's no denying Greengrass's up, close and personal filmmaking style is a bit overwhelming it'll make your head spins. At times his shaky camerawork tends to cause one into motion sickness and some of the scenes are simply too tightly edited you have hard times trying to focus what really has happened.

Obvious flaws aside, the rest of the technical credits are top-notch with Oliver Wood's eye-catching cinematography towards its exotic locations, while Christopher Rouse's airtight editing and John Powell's intense music score works up pretty well to engage along the wild ride.

Not forgetting the cast also, are all fully committed to their respective roles though it's a bit pity that Greengrass doesn't have much time to elaborate each of the characters more than just one-dimensional since he's too busy staging action scenes one after another. Whatever it is, the actors remain engaging enough to keep us involved with them: Matt Damon continues to impress with his amazing physical bodywork and intense performance as he'll stop at nothing to dig out his past, while Julia Stiles is given extra screen time to extend her role with vivid result. David Strathairn is perfectly low-key in his effective portrayal as the power-hungry CIA heads of operation and so as Scott Glenn; Joan Allen in her consistently strong performance as always, and Albert Finney is equally memorable as the man-behind-the-curtain, Dr. Hisrch.

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