The Bourne Ultimatum


Reviewed by: Chris

The Bourne Ultimatum
"The Bourne Ultimatum is one of those spy-flicks that looks great first time round and far too silly to ever watch again."

Don't you just love a good action thriller? Maybe with Matt Damon as the unassuming CIA agent - again, in search of his lost memories. Earlier episodes showed us brainwashed Jason Bourne (Damon) in search of answers or exacting revenge. In The Bourne Ultimatum, he wants answers with a capital 'A'. And the CIA want to kill him off. Director Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy) is to be applauded for keeping this series alive in the face of fresh James Bonds and smug Mission Impossibles. And although the Bourne Ultimatum is a spy-thriller-by-numbers, it is still a polished production and does keep you on the edge of your seat for the length of the movie.

All this comes at some cost. Bourne leaps from roof to roof of conveniently spaced buildings with the same ease that he traverses worn cliches and the well-established Bourne plot. A pretty world tour of photogenic hot spots will have an establishing shot of, say, the London Eye, followed by hectic chases captured by hand-held cameras. Generic shortcuts are acceptable as long as we are being entertained. If we get time to catch our breath, we can even enjoy spotting some.

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Cars, even modern ones, and motorbikes, can invariably be started by touching two conveniently located wires. These also neutralise the steering column lock. But it's only a movie - we need such things. As the high tech CIA computers locate their prey, they will make little chirping noises. This is in case we miss any plot development. The same computers explain what's happening in large type, in case any visually-challenged observers miss the point. Jason Bourne accurately judges the space between two buildings when taking a running jump. This is acceptable as we expect the hero to survive. Vast numbers of innocent bystanders' cars will be trashed in each location. The newspapers don't notice anything amiss until needed for our story. Top journalists won't use shorthand - because then we couldn't follow their notes.

When a highly trained hit man confronts Bourne, he will pause long enough to be talked out of it. Highly intelligent Jason Bourne will always witter long enough to bad bosses to gloat about his real location. So they can come back and look for him in their office. This provides enough wry humour to make him likeable.

As you can gather, The Bourne Ultimatum is one of those spy-flicks that looks great first time round and far too silly to ever watch again. Its point is to entertain you at the time. The CIA has been updated to look slightly out of control - Jason's hunters also handle borderline illegal stuff like renditions. Britain has more CCTV cameras than anywhere else and this is handy for the CIA, which can instantly control all of them.

Julia Stiles maintains a nice unrequited love interest without make up or low cleavage (the Bourne trilogy is aimed at 'intelligent' viewers). Paddy Considine, deprived of the larger roles he had in Summer of Love or Dead Man's Shoes, is swept along convincingly, his acting shining all the more when he doesn't say too much. Acclaimed veteran Albert Finney has one of the best scenes as he calmly stalls our enraged Jason. Cinematography uses effective contrasts between open spaces, close combat, and all the great locations that money can buy.

"You start down this path and where does it end?" asks spy-boss with-a-conscience, Joan Allen. Paranoia aside, I fear it will be more movies of this ilk: definitely worth the price of popcorn but just as disposable.

Reviewed on: 05 Sep 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:

Angus Wolfe Murray ****1/2
Paul Griffiths ****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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