Monday, August 6, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum

Jason Bourne is back for his third adventure. Jason is continuing in his quest to discover who exactly he is. The events of the second film jarred loose some tantalizing flashbacks and Bourne is determined to remember. A reporter uncovers some information that is of interest to Bourne who is racing against the clock to get to the reporter as CIA operatives try to find Bourne and the reporter. The chase takes Bourne around the world to various locales as Bourne stays one step ahead of his antagonists. The story is a sound one, even if we don't really care about the story. Greengrass in the director's helm knows this movie is about the action.

This movie gets to the action and sets a pulse pounding pace. Who knew that walking could instill such tension and yet it does. Bourne moves methodically through the movie outwitting his antagonists and when forced outfighting them as well. As in the previous films, Bourne faces off against agents who are trained exactly like him and those fights are the icing on the cake of the best action movie I've seen in a long time. This movie is fantastic to be sure but it doesn't violate its own dimensions and it doesn't do anything that totally removes you from the movie (such as a man jumping onto a flying jet).

Does a movie like this need decent actors? Hard to say, but this movie has a plethora of them. From small bit roles by Paddy Considine and Julia Stiles to major roles for Joan Allen and David Strathairn, this movie boasts a pretty amazing cast. Even Albert Finney and Scott Glenn show up. I did feel the Julia Stiles scenes a bit forced almost like she was finally getting the screen time she was promised in the first two films. I'm not sure I really care about Bourne's back story and the movie gives little time to it, forcing it in at the end in what is arguably the slowest part of the movie.

If I have any real complaint with this film, its the advertising which revealed one of the cleverest parts of the movie in a preview for the film which makes it rather unremarkable when you see it on screen. This movie had me smiling with glee and fondly reminiscent of its predecessors. Here's hoping for a fourth Bourne film because I could visit this franchise again.


If you have yet to see a so-called summer movie and you really want to see one and you're perusing the movie ads in attempt to choose let me just go ahead and advise you to put down those ads and stop thinking about it.

This is it. This is the one. Go see "The Bourne Ultimatum". Wowie wow wow.

Not to rub it in, Rory, but I'm so thankful you had to write the synopsis since that frees me to just rant and rave like the lunatic I love to be upon seeing a film as fantastic as this one. I would like to take every director who yearns to make an action film in the next few years, sit them down and make them watch this movie and "The Bourne Supremacy" over and over. These movies are how it's done. This Paul Greengrass can direct.

"Who knew walking could instill such tension?" Great line, Rory, and so great because it's completely true. Holy gods, that opening sequence. How long did that go on? It's the reporter trying to meet Bourne and a plethora of bad guys on the reporter's tail and Bourne directing the reporter to and fro via his cellphone. It's downright amazing. There's one gunshot (as I recall), some fisticuffs, no explosions, but more than anything it's just tension generated through the art of filmmaking. It brought to mind that sequence in "Minority Report" where the pre-cog (is that the right term?) guides Tom Cruise to safety in the shopping mall. Except it's done with even more tension and skill in "Ultimatum".

Or, to say it another way, Greengrass out-Spielberg's Spielberg.

The movie hardly ever slows down once it gets going and when it does slow down it's only to give the bare-bones exposition that is needed to make sure our bearings are straight and then it revs right back up. We do receive what the esteemed Roger Ebert would term the Talking Killer Scene but it's the briefest Talking Killer Scene of all time. It has to be there because what's said must be said but it says absolutely no more than what is essential and then hurries along. You could almost see Greengrass in the editing bay hollering, "Shorter! Shorter!"

But above all, there's one moment in particular that needs to be mentioned. For me, it sums up not just this installment but the entire trilogy. There has just been a mano-a-mano fight in a Tangier apartment between Bourne and one of our bad guys (and this fight, by the way, is just as virtuoso as anything else in the movie - I loved the decision to cut the soundtrack during the battle). Once it's concluded, Bourne gets that look that in ANY OTHER action movie would be followed immediately by a crafty one-liner. At the screening I attended you could literally feel the audience leaning forward in their seats in anticipation of this crafty one-liner.

And Bourne gets that look and then says.............nothing. Absolutely nothing. I very nearly stood and cheered because of the lack of the crafty one-liner. I hate to harp on it - scratch that, I do like harping on it. But how refreshing it is to get a movie that DOESN'T give you exactly what you expect.

You mention the possibility of a fourth film. Do we need one? Well, probably not technically, but I certainly wouldn't mind another one. If this is the conclusion to the series then a superb conclusion it is. "The Bourne Ultimatum" is everything I could possibly want in an action movie and not a thing less.


A Rebuttal:

My inclination is to state some negative criticism of the movie which I do have but I won't for two reasons:

One: the criticism revolves around Julia Stiles and as Julia Stiles is on of my top five cinematic crushes I will ignore it (it isn't really Julia that is flawed anyway).

Two: This small criticism in no way counters how fantastic this movie was to watch.

If you are really curious just ask me and I'll rant.


No comments: