really invested in this series of movies, we really love
Damon as Jason Bourne (aka David Webb)
And does it show! You can feel the passion. Damn it, you
can almost taste it. Without so much as a tap on Bond's
shoulder, Jason Bourne came along. Is the 'Ja' of Jason/James
and the 'Bo' of Bourne/Bond just a coincidence? He asked
"Who am I?" and over five and a half glorious
hours, has proved himself to be one of the most original
and exciting secret agents in film history. I'm not being
over the top here. Here is a hero who thinks and relies
on wits rather than twits who need their heroes to commercially
perform by shackling them with commercial tie-ins, Eurotrash
bad guys and an indestructibility based on the surrealism
movement (which would be yellow if anyone really appreciates
jokes like that anymore. Or was it fish?).
urge you to have one of the best cinematic night out's this
summer, I'm not going to take up much of your time. In Identity,
Bourne found a traveling companion and a whole slew of folks
who wished him dead. In Supremacy,
the filmmakers gave him the only real motivation Bourne
needed - the death of that companion from a random shot
aimed at Bourne. A good friend of mine said, not unreasonably,
that this sacrifice killed the film for him but for Bourne
to make all that effort at the tail of the movie, shot and
bleeding to simply apologize to the daughter of two of his
victims... Extraordinary. Suddenly it clicked - Jason Bourne
was the US of A. And there was a lot of apologizing to do.
In Ultimatum, we are told in the trailer,
Bourne is coming home hence the appalling sub-heading above
for which I offer no apology being aware of Tom Jones's
oeuvre and the glory that is the director's surname.
the camerawork is still nervous and hunted, jiggling from
one jagged jump cut to the next as per Doug Limon's first
installment. Paul Greengrass's direction - literally as
in keeping the knowledge of where we are, who we are with
and why - is first rate despite my distaste for the visual
ticks of recent movies. In the Bourne series
it simply works. It's as if the style is a garment that
only really shines on the right body shape. On Bourne,
it's tailor made. The acting is un-showy, unfussy and markedly
believable. Damon has been a revelation in this trilogy
given his rather geeky wannabe-cool guy as he's always played
in the Ocean's Trilogy. His determination level has raised his game - he's
in the home stretch after all - and Damon pulls off another
riveting physical performance.
is backed up by Joan Allen, returning as Pamela Landy, the
only agency worker with smarts and compassion. They get
a short scene together and it's oddly touching. The ever
earnest (and in this case creepy) David Strathaim slithers
into "Kill everyone mode" a little too easily
but then there are a few secrets he needs to stay secret.
Paddy Considine turns up as a journalist in over his vulnerable
head and we find out that dear, ultra-capable Jason Bourne
is a Guardian reader! How much did that newspaper pay for
that association? It's gorgeous, the polarized nature inherent
in the ultra right wing job (assassin to protect Americans
and American interests) and the fiercely independent, left
leaning bastion of all that this country of ours would dearly
love to be. The trouble with real international espionage
and crusading journalists is that the latter tend to forget
how bloody dangerous the former can be.
action picks off almost literally from Bourne's apology
and walk away at the end of Supremacy.
Google Supremacy's alternate ending on
You Tube (I'm told it's an Easter Egg on the DVD but don't
have it to hand). It's quite a shock and a small blip of
silliness that the writer in Matt Damon reacted against.
His instincts were right. You don't spend four hours with
a character who can get out of any jam and expect a hospital
room to present any great obstacle in escaping from. His
rewritten New York dénoument is far more effective
but that's a timeline not included in Ultimatum.
Bourne believes a journalist is getting close to discovering
what the assassin programme 'Treadstone' is all about. Clandestine
operations to serve to common good (define 'common'!) are
not necessarily inherently evil or politically unwise but
then it depends where the line is drawn and in CIA terms,
that line is a football field wide. People are frighteningly
easily ear-marked for assassination (assassins are 'assets'
in Ultmatum) and if in Bourne's sights,
the assets get their assets kicked.
(as in my review for Supremacy),
I was reminded of the classic Connery/Shaw scrap on the
Orient Express. The fight with the 'asset' using what's
to hand (towels and hardback books) is electrifying and
sets a benchmark other movies must now acknowledge. It is
to the action genre what The Matrix was
to science fiction - a sound raising of the bar which the
producers of Bond took to heart despite Casino's
shameless product placement. Despite the odds (of course)
Bourne outwits his hunters and ends up at where it all began.
Playing far from the avuncular storyteller of recent appearances,
Albert Finney is Albert Hirsch, the man who indoctrinated
Bourne and the way in which this is done (and remembered)
is suitably shocking. It seems Jason was born when his reason
caved in to his belief that anything is justifiable to 'save
American lives'. It's a telling moment and the closed parenthesis
to the apology offered implicitly by Bourne's return to
his former identity, David Webb.
are unlikely to find a better Hollywood thriller out there
in the last ten years that didn't have the word 'Bourne'
in its title. Go.