Sunday, September 16, 2007

WAAYY Overdue Movie Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum

In Brief: What's Good

  • Excellent performance by Matt Damon in one of his best roles as amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne.

  • A variety of interesting locales, including New York City, London, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, and Morocco.

  • Movie has a very high "cool factor."

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • The action is so non-stop, it's almost like there's no climax to the movie.

  • One major revelation near the end of the movie is realistic and not surprising. But, it's also a little disappointing at the same time.

B- Story
A- Acting
B+ Directing
A- Visuals

Ultimatum caps off the Bourne trilogy. David Webb, a.k.a. Jason Bourne, is an ex-CIA assassin still on the run from his handlers after suffering from amnesia in the original movie.

Ultimatum first picks up where the middle installment left off, with Bourne fleeing from Moscow police and attempting to dress his wounds. Then, there's a six-week jump in the story, and Bourne tracks down the brother of his former companion Marie to let him know that Marie is dead. On the way, Bourne learns of a journalist who knows about the top secret CIA project that led to Bourne's former career as an assassin. Knowing that going public with what he knows will get the journalist killed, Bourne tracks down the journalist and attempts to protect him.

From there, the plot gets a little complicated with Bourne playing a cat & mouse game with the CIA while trying to gain information about his past. The chase takes him to various locations in Europe, Northern Africa, and finally New York, where Bourne goes to confront a person from his past, face to face.

Rounding out the cast are David Strathairn as Noah Vosen, a CIA Deputy Director in charge of Operation Blackbriar (formerly Treadstone), the program that turned Bourne into an assassin; Joan Allen, returning from the middle movie as Pamela Landy, another CIA Deputy Director who is caught between helping Vosen and Bourne; and Julia Stiles, a veteran of the entire trilogy as Nicky Parsons, Bourne's former contact, who he enlists to help him uncover his past.

Typically, "shaky-cam" really bothers me. It was one of the worst aspects of the recent Transformers movie. It even bothered me when I saw Bourne Supremacy (the middle movie of the Bourne trilogy) for the first time in the theater. However, after seeing Supremacy again on the small screen, I came to appreciate the shaky camera work--to a certain extent--because it gives the movie a very immediate & kinetic feel. Somehow, it works for me, perhaps because director Paul Greengrass seems to know how to use the method correctly, while other directors don't get it right but use it anyway. It's rare for me to do so, but I actually give shaky-cam a pass in Greengrass's two Bourne films. Only twice in Ultimatum--once during a car chase and once during a hand combat scene--did shaky-cam get a little excessive to the point of making the action hard to follow.

The worst part of Bourne Ultimatum is a revelation that occurs near the end of the movie. It's a huge plot point, so I can't give it away. I will say that this revelation makes sense. It's understandable and believable. But, I also wish it weren't true. You may feel the same way if you're a fan of this trilogy.

I wish I could say that Ultimatum is the best of the Bourne trilogy. Maybe I could after a 2nd viewing. But, as exciting as the movie is, it doesn't seem to have as much substance as the first two. Jason Bourne has pieced together most of his past, so there's only one or two more things to learn. That mostly leaves a lot of action. But, there's so much action, the movie doesn't seem to reach a high point, and there are fewer quieter moments for you to recharge and appreciate the next big chase scene. Still, the Bourne trilogy is an excellent saga, and this is a respectable installment (if not conclusion). If you want pulse-pounding moments from a summer movie, this one will not disappoint.

Fun Fact from Internet Movie Database

The film crew were unable to shut down Waterloo station, so pedestrians can be seen looking and pointing at the camera.

No comments: