Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Me and my brothers-in-law (is that proper English?  Somewhere in the universe my English Professor Mother weeps), anyway we were having dinner a couple of weeks ago and the conversation turned to the kind of completely worthless conversation that only boys have, the kind the make most women roll their eyes.  The question was who would kick more ass between John MacClaine and Jason Bourne?  Though we agree that MacClaine is certainly a bad ass of immeasurable proportions, Jason Bourne is almost God-like in his ability to kick ass. I mean Jason Bourne is government pre-programmed to kick your ass in his sleep.  One of the coolest scenes in movie history was the opening of the ‘Bourne Identity’ when Jason Bourne, suffering from complete amnesia, completely kicked the ass of those Russian, or French or whatever cops without even knowing how he did it.  Jason Bourne could give Kato from the Green Hornet a run for his money.  Though I was bit disappointed in ‘The Bourne Supremacy’, finding it bit tedious and long winded compared to the excellent ‘The Bourne Identity’, Director Paul Greengrass gets it right with the ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ carrying it even past the lofty heights set by the ‘The Bourne Identity’.

The film opens with Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) under duress as per usual, beaten bloodied shot and on the run from the Moscow police.  Hindering Bourne’s effort at escape are the sudden flashbacks of his fractured and missing memory.  These Russian cops may mean well, but the last the thing they want to do is actually catch Jason Bourne because that will only result in the snapping of limbs and severing of major arteries.  Fortunately for them he escapes and is on his final journey for the truth and his identity.  Things are starting to heat up at The Agency as a British reporter named Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) has found an informant who possesses information about a clandestine, and highly illegal CIA project by the name of

Blackbriar that gave birth to Jason Bourne and other agents of his ilk.  Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Stathairn) who is the head of the program under the orders of CIA director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn), is using every bit of privacy invading technology that we possess to track the reporter, find out who his source is and ultimately eliminate them both.  Bourne is also aware of this reporter and needs him to find him before The Agency does because the reporter’s source holds the key to who he is and why he exists.

In one of the many taut action sequences in the film, Bourne finds the reporter and plays a game of cat and mouse with the man, and the many eyes of The Agency, to try to secure his safety and get his much needed information.  Note to Self:  If Jason Bourne advises me to stay put and do what he says, then it would be in the best interest of my non-bullet proof brain to listen to what he says.  Bourne gets what he needs, but now the Agency has tracked him down as well and bring aboard Bourne sympathizer Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) to assist in bringing the super spy in from the cold.  From London to Paris to Tangiers and back to New York City while being chased by other Super Agents, law enforcement and dragging along the ubiquitous Agency secretary Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles, who has managed to snag a sweet gig by showing up in all three Bourne flicks),  Jason Bourne will eventually to get to the truth about what and who he is, but the question is will he like the answers that he is given?

The actual story supporting ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ is a little sketchy as most of the narrative was used up in the first two films, and in the first two Robert Ludlum novels as well I’m told.  Bourne’s goal has already been established, the basic characters are pretty much the same, though the names have changed and Jason Bourne still reluctantly kicks much ass.  We’re now given a name for the clandestine program which begat Jason Bourne but that’s about it for the new stuff.  What’s left for director Greengrass in the absence of a large amount of subtext is to load up on style and manufacture tense situations, and in this he succeeds brilliantly.  From the first frame to the last, danger seems present in nearly every scene, and even in scenes that take place in offices, with a bunch of cats sitting around looking at big TV monitors and talking, Greengrass cuts it so that it feels as if you’re on a roller coaster ride with end of the world at stake.  The actual action scenes themselves are truly among the best ever filmed making ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ the best big blockbuster of the summer, and I loved the ridiculousness of ‘Live free or Die Hard’.

The performances are all rock solid, led by Damon who manages to give Jason Bourne some humanity despite the fact he’s the invincible god of kick-ass, and veterans Scott Glenn, Albert Finney, Joan Allen and David Strathairn all lend credibility to their roles as Agency honks.  You really can’t go wrong with ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ as piece of modern entertainment as is succeeds in practically every facet it aims for.

On a sadder note, I actually PAID to see this film and I’m not happy about that.  I haven’t paid to see a movie at a theater in years and for whatever reason there was no screening made available for us lower rent film critics.  Sure, the big Newspaper and magazine guys got a ‘private’ showing but that’s not me.  Dedication people.  That’s what I’m all about.  I came off of six bucks and gas money to go see this – and yes I realize I’m whining, but that’s also me.  But it was worth it though, but let’s just hope that this paying to see a movie thing doesn’t become some kind of trend.

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