Blu-ray Review: The Bourne Trilogy

The “Bourne Trilogy” has had an amazing effect on action films since The Bourne Identity first hit theaters back in 2002. Jason Bourne was a new kind of action star and it brought a certain level of reality and edge to the genre that ultimately inspired a complete reboot of the long-lived James Bond franchise and had many saying the most recent Bond film, Quantum of Solace, was more Bourne than it was Bond. Agree with the sentiment or not, the comparison is one the Bourne franchise can be quite proud of considering Bond’s stranglehold on spy-based action thrillers.

From The Bourne Identity to The Bourne Supremacy and ultimately The Bourne Ultimatum this is a franchise that has seen its share of DVD, HD DVD and now Blu-ray releases. Identity saw its original release followed by a special edition DVD that included an alternate opening and ending as well as more features to bolster its worth in your collection. The Bourne Supremacy followed and became the first Bourne film to receive a high-definition release as it was offered on HD DVD with Universal’s first HD-interactive feature and its very own group of special features. Ultimatum followed and was again released on DVD and HD DVD along with its own HD-exclusive interactive features. On Blu-ray Universal has taken everything from all the previous releases, wrapped them into a superb high-definition Blu-ray debut with only a minuscule amount of new features but is certainly the definitive release.

Popping Identity into the player I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to watch all three films yet again, but before I knew it I had finished Ultimatum and once again enjoyed revisiting one of the better film trilogies I have ever seen. I was also pleasantly surprised as I believe this is the first time I have ever watched all three back-to-back-to-back at how Identity really does fit into the franchise more than I had originally remembered and may in fact be my favorite of the three now. Supremacy and Ultimatum really are just one film and it would be interesting to see all three cut together as one picture with Supremacy‘s ending simply removed and have it fit into Ultimatum at its proper time. That would be a lot of fun.

In terms of features, for anyone that has already seen the HD DVD releases you are only getting one new feature as all three films include the U-Control feature called “Bourne Orientation” which is basically a “Bourne Franchise for Dummies” tutorial spelling out the story for anyone that may not have completely grasped it all the first time around. It’s okay, but pretty much worthless for most viewers. I guess you can call the BD-Live features new, but unless you are into online chatting while watching movies or recording your own commentary it too is pretty much worthless.

From what I can tell only one feature from any of the previous releases is absent, which is the “The Speed of Sound” feature from The Bourne Identity which was a 4-minute bit of interview with the sound and effects crew followed by an interactive soundboard feature. It’s an okay feature that was found on the HD DVD release, but it won’t cause a stir in its absence.

Of the features I believe are of most value would certainly be the feature commentaries by directors Doug Liman on Identity and Paul Greengrass on Supremacy and Ultimatum. Liman’s commentary is particularly of interest; he is very talkative and brings a lot to the table in terms of the “hows” and “whys” of the making of the film. The alternate opening and ending on Identity are also interesting to return to as this would have been a drastically different franchise had they stuck with the alternate version of the ending, which was created as a result of the September 11 attacks.

The U-Control picture-in-picture is very good on each film and should you be interested in learning how they shot the action scenes, blew things up or filmed a particular car chase the multitude of extras on these three discs will keep you occupied for a LONG time.

The picture on all three releases is phenomenal and along with DTS audio on all three releases is a step up even from the HD DVD releases. As for audio I did happen to notice what appeared to be an even greater improvement on the rear channels when it came to Ultimatum, but that could have just been me getting a little tired as it was getting late once it came time to watch that one.

The packaging you see in this review is of the cardboard packaging that holds three traditional Blu-ray cases. The packaging is actually quite attractive and the picture of Bourne you see on the front is a magnetized flap that slaps down to firmly hold all three cases inside the box. I rarely mention packaging in a review, but this one looks quite nice on the shelf.

Overall, this is a great release, but all of Universal’s Blu-ray releases have been impressive, the question is whether or not you actually need to upgrade. If picture and sound aren’t necessities for you then you are probably best left with your DVD releases considering this is going to be an expensive investment. If you haven’t bought any of these titles yet and were looking at this one to be where you start then I definitely urge you to pick it up, it doesn’t get much better. Of course, they are working on a fourth Bourne film so the “Bourne Trilogy” could turn into the “Bourne Quadrilogy” all with special packaging, but if that happens just toss the cardboard box and add Bourne 4 on Blu-ray right next to the other three. DVD/Blu-ray shelves are always adaptable.

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