The Bourne Ultimatum

Shake, Rattle and Roll

The summer is winding down, but it wouldn’t be complete without another three-quel. This time its the Bourne franchise, with plucky Matt Damon cutting his way through killer operatives in order to find out his true identity. Shaky-cam director Paul Greengrass returns with his nauseating “style” that he brought to the table with the moderately entertaining entry The Bourne Supremacy. While it stumbles a bit at the start, I have to admit that I got involved in The Bourne Ultimatum, despite Greengrass’ manic storytelling.

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still on the run. When he notices a London newspaper is printing articles about him, he contacts the reporter in an effort to learn more about his own murky past. The agency is still trying to gun him down, however, as new government weasel Noah Voson (David Strathairn) takes his best shot. Bourne has an ally this time in former nemesis Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), who may be able to help him, but at what cost?

I liked The Bourne Ultimatum, which has a lot of action and just barely enough character interaction to keep the story interesting. The movie missteps at the start by throwing you into the violence with no exposition, but once it calms down and we relate with what is going on, it becomes much easier to root for Bourne once again.

Director Greengrass (United 93) has got to be one of the most obnoxious filmmakers working. His constant jittering of the lens and fast cutting works too well (sit at the back of the theater to lessen the effect). It’s distracting to say the least, but I have to admire his bravado. Like the Jason Bourne character, Greengrass goes insane, giving us crazy-fierce action sequences (with one fantastic fist-fight) that are almost beyond belief in their audacity. He does manage to keep the reins on this filmed riot, however, which is impressive.

Then there’s Damon at the center, who continues to play this guy as driven, smart, and ruthless--but he’s no longer a killing machine. This time out he’s more compassionate toward those trying to plug him. He only kills one guy (after using a hardcover book as a weapon), and that’s in a do-or-die scenario.

Damon gets excellent backup in the form of Allen (The Upside of Anger) and Julia Stiles (The Omen), both reprising their roles from the previous films. Allen is always good, but I really liked Stiles this time out. She is sympathetic toward Bourne, but I am pretty sure she was thinking about something more than just goodwill when she was staring at him like that.

If anything is lacking here, it’s a really sinister villain. Strathairn (Fracture) is okay, but he’s no Chris Cooper (seen in the first film), who you loved to hate. Despite this oversight and the lack of exposition at the beginning, The Bourne Ultimatum is a good action yarn that succeeds at what it sets out to do: rock your socks off.