The Bourne Ultimatum


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Bourne Ultimatum
"This is about car/motorbike chases, ruthless corruption at the highest level, a focused defense of one man’s pursuit of truth and ... the hint of romance."

The final furlong in this marathon chase begins with a series of flashbacks, intercut with a wounded Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) on the run in Moscow. The audience would be forgiven for thinking they were watching a trailer.

The director, Paul Greengrass, wants to make his statement early that Ultimatum is about Bourne’s discovery of his past and the interpretation of his dreams. Ever since the rogue CIA assassin was fished out of the Mediterranean with a severe case of amnesia, this has been about identity. Who am I? What am I? Why am I? And, finally, who did this to me?

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The CIA wants Bourne dead because he knows where the bodies are buried. After Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) committed suicide, rather than be exposed, the head honchos in Langley and New York are Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) and Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn), but especially Vosen, whose single-minded determination to take Bourne out clashes with Pamela Landy’s (Joan Allen) belief that to bring him in alive and debrief him would be more humane, not to mention beneficial to the Agency in its internal investigation of dodgy power politics, as epitomized by the undercover activities of Abbott and his cronies.

The Bourne films have been compared favourably with the Bond franchise, which is misleading. If comparisons are required you could say that The Trilogy is a technically more advanced version of Andrew Davis’ The Fugitive (1993) and Tony Scott’s Enemy Of The State (1998). Not only must Bourne outwit incredibly intrusive surveillance devices and outrun the CIA’s killer squads in every European city you care to mention, but uncover the truth of how he came to be called Jason Bourne in the first place and why agents had to be psychologically broken before being deemed operational as murder weapons.

“Someone started all this and I’m going to find him.”

The pace is too fast to catch the drift of every nuance of nastiness orchestrated by Vosen and his team. As the locations leap from London to Paris to Madrid to Tangiers to New York, you can hardly believe how Bourne survives, or what he does for money. This is about car/motorbike chases, ruthless corruption at the highest level, a focused defense of one man’s pursuit of truth and, even amongst this maelstrom of male aggression, the hint of romance, as agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) reappears at Jason’s side.

The script is cunning and clever. The performances are disciplined and controlled. The plot can be criticised for audacity, but not lack of ambition. Greengrass, director of United 93, is a master of his craft. He brings The Trilogy home triumphant, justified and physically exhausted.

Reviewed on: 08 Aug 2007
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The chase goes on for the rogue CIA assassin in his search for recognition and revenge.
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Read more The Bourne Ultimatum reviews:

Paul Griffiths ****1/2
Chris ***1/2

Director: Paul Greengrass

Writer: Tony Gilroy, Scott Z Burns, George Nolfi, based on the novel by Robert Ludlum

Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez, Albert Finney, Joey Ansah, Colin Stinton, Tom Gallop, Corey Johnson, Daniel Brühl

Year: 2007

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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