Bourne Ultimatum
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Bourne Ultimatum

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There is nothing like sitting back and watching a really good action/adventure flick. Throw in some spies, beautiful women and exotic locations and you have a winning formula. While many take this and fail to live up to the potential of the genre there is one franchise that always delivered, the Jason Bourne trilogy. Hopefully the studio will not run this into ground with additional films. In an interview with the star Matt Damon he stated that a forth film would have to be called ‘The Bourne Redundancy. The story is left open for another installment but looking back at the three already released we have the whole tale of Jason Bourne just fine now. This film is the best of the three. The few flaws present in the second installment have been more than corrected. The audiences and legion of fans have had two films to get to know the characters and situations. This film was able to just get right into the action without a lot of unnecessary exposition. You don’t go to a spy thriller for talk; you want to see stuff get blown up. If there is an interesting story line, rare as that might be, it is only a plus. This is one of those kinds of movies that combine action with a physiological thriller in a fashion that few films have managed. If the writers and directors of this series wanted to be lazy the plot would be simply a spy has lost his memory and spends three films running from his former controllers. In the hands of this cast and crew there is so much more. This is the type of film that you not only get swept away with you sit there enthralled, completely immersed in the plot. Let’s face it in the Bond flicks you get the action, women and the bonus of gadgets but you don’t have to think a whole lot. This series sets the gold standard for spy films and this movie is the best of that group.

This film starts off just where the second left off. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) was injured in his latest car chase and is trying to keep one step ahead of the Moscow police department. He remains the trained killing machine with a code of honor when he is trapped near a medical clinic by a couple of Moscow’s finest. He readily overcomes them but since is fight is not with them he spares their lives. Bourne travels to Paris to tell the brother. Martin (Daniel Brühl), of his last ill fated female companion of her death. In Paris he reads an article in the London Guardian that details his recent exploits. The writer of the articles, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) outs Bourne as a rouge CIA agent placing him directly in Bourne’s interest. He contacts Ross who agrees to meet in him London. Bourne was not the only one interested in the articles, Ross is under CIA surveillance. What got their interest in Ross was his use of the term ‘Blackbriar’ the replacement for the secret black ops group, ‘Treadstone’ which has been after Bourne from the start. The new group is headed by CIA Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) who tends to prefer very violent and permanent solutions to most problems presented to him. Blackbriar dispatches an assassin Paz (Edgar Ramirez) to handle the Ross situation. Bourne councils Ross to stay in hiding but the newsman panics and leaves himself open to Paz. With Ross dead Bourne grabs his notes and runs off. The notes lead him to Madrid and the CIA section chief there, Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton). Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) is called in to help capture Bourne. The set up a trap in Daniel’s office in Madrid but once again Bourne manages to get the best of them. Before he can take his leave from the office he runs into Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles). She was his contact in Treadstone but has been assigned to Madrid to help get Bourne. Bourne is bewildered that she is helping but is not in the position to press maters too much. Another assassin, Desh Bouksani (Joey Ansah) is sent in but Nicky manages to derail the attempt. This brings her to the attention of Daniels who now wants her eliminated. All of this only serves to set up the rest of this non stop movie. There are a lot more chases, explosions and fights yet to come at this point. The thing about this film is it is one to experience more than discussed.

This is by far one of the best movies I have seen this year. It is intelligent but the more cerebral aspects never, and I mean never, overshadow the action. For a film to be able to combine both of these aspects so seamlessly is a gigantic feat in itself. It is also something notable that the audiences have embraced this film so well. It broke records for box office sales as well as being the biggest hit of the Bourne series. It looks like contrary to what so many studio executives think the public can handle a thinking man’s action film. If you only consider the action and the most superficial aspects of the plot this may seem like a repeat of the previous film. What sets it apart is how the overall series story arc is brought to a conclusion. This film gives the audiences some of the answers we have been waiting for years to get. Even though this is a smarter script than most members of the genre it is still an action flick. As such there is more than the usual need for suspension of belief. Bourne is almost super human not only in his physical abilities but in his talent for deduction and sheer dumb luck. Any of the situations he extricates himself from would surely kill a mere mortal man. Forget the science of the real world; this is the final Bourne film so just sit back and enjoy it for what it is, a great ride.

Director Paul Greengrass took over in the second film from the original director Doug Liman. When a new director comes in more time than not the franchise is doomed. Greengrass has built upon the work of Liman kicking things up several notches. Here there are only two speeds for the pacing, fast and really fast. There is not a single frame that is wasted here. This film was edited to perfection and nothing could have been done to improve upon this release. While most franchises lose steam by number three this one is fresher than ever. Take the old standby, the car chase. There have been many before and will without a doubt be many after this but the one here is going to remain the best for a long time. I thought that nothing could ever beat out the car chase scenes in the 1968 version of ‘Bullittor the spectacular under the train track chase in ‘The French Connection’. The one shown here is more like a direct to the heart shot of adrenaline than watching a movie. I just saw there in absolute awe of the stunt work not caring how they did it and just enjoying the experience. I would love to have the frequent flier miles this cast and crew accumulated in the production of this film. It is truly global in scope. Each location adds its own flavor and spin to the scene keeping the film always visually interesting.

I recently re-watched ‘Mystic Pizza’ again. As I did I noticed something when Matt Damon was on the screen. I had to admit that there was no way this slightly built young actor would become one of the best action heroes of our time. This gentle man who brought his mother to his first Oscar presentation has what it takes to bring on the action. The fact that he is not the huge built terminator type works here extremely well. He is someone that the audience can identify with. Men want to be like him, women just want him. He may look like someone to go see a baseball game with but when he gets going his character is lethal force incarnate. Julia Stiles has been in all three Bourne films and finally in this one she gets a workable part. She is an excellent actress who always gives an amazing performance and for once her talent is showcased a little more than usual in these films. Colin Stinton plays his role so well that he exudes a sinister cloud in every scene. He portrays Daniels so well that I shudder to think what his real life counter part in the CIA must be like.

Not only is this the best Bourne flick Universal made sure it is the best DVD release possible. The anamorphic 2.40:1 video is reference quality. The colors pop off the screen and the contrast is dead on and flawless. The Dolby 5.1 audio will shake your living room. You hear every little detail; shell casings seem to fall around your couch. Make sure you have a high quality sub woofer. It will boom through your house like you were in the middle of the action. There are also plenty of extras to keep you entertained long after the film is over. The commentary track by the director goes into detail on every little aspect of the production. The first featurette is ‘Man on the Move: Jason Bourne’. It goes into the many locations required to get this film made. Next up is ‘Rooftop Pursuit’ that gives the technical details to the heart pounding chase over the roofs of Tangiers. The complicated fight scenes are the focus of ‘Planning the Punches’. A few seconds on the screen takes days to rehearse and execute properly. There are two featurettes that concentrate on the incredible car chase. ‘Drive School’ shows the training required by Damon to pull off the stunts. Last there is ‘New York Chase’ which takes you behind the wheel for the chase. This is one to get and enjoy over and over.

Posted 12/10/07

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