Starring Matt Damon (Ocean’s Eleven, Goodwill Hunting), Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate about You) and Joan Allen (Pleasantville, The Notebook), the third installment in the Bourne trilogy may not be the best of the series and it may not even be as well directed as say, Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End, but it’s the best sequel of 2007.
Jason Bourne (Damon) is running from everyone; police, CIA assassins, and even himself. In the previous films, we’ve seen Bourne do some amazing things considering the fact that he’s survived several bullet wounds, a possible concussion and a few too many horrible car crashes. He’s almost like hitting a punching bag. No matter how many times you try to nail him, Jason Bourne keeps springing back. Of course, aside from his own incoherent flashes of memory, Jason’s greatest weakness is for his dearly departed girlfriend. We saw her get shot and killed in the last, Bourne Supremacy. Unlike those horrible assassin-related memories, Jason remembers his Marie fondly.
Marie was a sweet German lady who took Bourne on as a passenger in Bourne Identity and found out that she was way in over her head. Jason and Marie worked hard to restore at least a few bits and peaces of his memory. Even now, after two adventures, Bourne is still suffering from amnesia. He picks up a few blotchy images of something that happened to him before the concussion. Jason has some difficulty trying to figure out what he’s seeing in his head. He’s as lost as the audience at times. Then something happens in the present, snapping Jason back to reality. Almost every moment we see Damon’s Bourne, he’s either running or kicking the crap out of someone.
Don’t chalk this up to being a bad thing. In fact, his violent adventures still prove to be much more fun than the black or evil Spider-Man jumping from building to building. We care about this character. Instead of completely trashing his image, filmmakers (Director Paul Greengrass and writers, Tony Gilroy, George Nolfi, and Tom Stoppard) hold true to every great thing we know about this character. Less we forget, Damon was bourne for this role. Excuse the pun, but it’s true. They tapped into a part of human unconsciousness that only a handful of filmmakers have ever been able to. We know some of the things Bourne does isn’t exactly socially cool but who cares, it’s Jason Bourne.
Just when things couldn’t be more complicated for Bourne, enter the most rotten bad guy in the series, Noah Vosen played exceptionally by Goodnight, and Good Luck‘s own David Strathairn. Working alongside a returning character from Bourne Supremacy, Pamela Landy, this Noah doofas thinks he’s got what it takes to find and terminate the ever elusive Jason Bourne. Noah has the best equipment in the spy business. Some of the things his suspicious covert CIA department can do and does do is pretty scary in itself. That’s one good thing about the camera work of Bourne Ultimatum, it helps maintain an illusion that everything you’re seeing is actually happening. You can’t help but feel a wave of motion sickness by the end of the opening chase sequence. If the audience didn’t care so much about Bourne or what happens to him, we probably would avoid watching all of this trembling imagery at all costs.
Unlike before, one of the CIA crew originally responsible for keeping Bourne and all of his fellow assassins in check, Nicolette or Nicky Parsons (Stiles) comes on board to help Bourne escape his would-be killers. Jason terrified Nicky in the last film, Supremacy and terrified her before that in Bourne Identity. Why is she helping him? I still don’t know for sure, good luck figuring that out. But that fact doesn’t matter, because this new collaboration actually works in the film. Filmmakers play these characters realistically and without any added romantic attachment to fumble the story.
Best part of Bourne Ultimatum
Every time Bourne gives his dangerous enemies the slip. It’s just a joy to watch such a skilled ex-assassin defeat the freaks who created him. Plus, I think James Cameron was right when he said that audiences unconsciously love a character that can do everything they’ve always wanted to and get away with it.
Worst part of Bourne Ultimatum
The trembling, and sometimes even incoherent images. They’ll make you sick, no doubt about it. But if you see Bourne Identity and the first sequel, Bourne Supremacy and allow yourself to enjoy the exploits of Jason Bourne, you might actually overlook the sickeningly jarred and shaken camera work.
Acting: Top-notch. From Damon and Stiles to Strathairn and Allen, everyone in Ultimatum is at their best.
Writing: Top-notch. The conspiracies, the characters, the ultimatum – everything about the story is fleshed out brilliantly.
Directing: Big thumbs down. I would fire any DP (Director of Photography) who agreed to shoot this kind of images. Then I would fire myself for thinking it was a cool idea. It comes close ruining the great acting and the great writing.
You might bring a bottle of Pepto Bismol to this wonderful, intelligent, and exciting thriller. But by all means, do not miss the best sequel of the year.