There are many who will tell you The Bourne Ultimatum is the best of the franchise but I’d have to disagree. Yeah, it’s a very good movie, and arguably the best sequel of the summer, but it’s a little behind The Bourne Supremacy for me. Perhaps I’m biased though because this is a common thread in my grading, I generally like the second of the series best. Empire Strikes Back, Pirates II, Godfather II, LOTR: The Two Towers, you get the idea. I think the reasoning is in the second effort you don’t need to introduce or conclude the series, you can just tell a story.
So let’s get into this thing. What can I tell you about the plot? Sheesh, why would you even ask me such a thing? Yeah, I could explain the twists and turns, the crazy intrigue, the insanity that Jason Bourne launches himself directly into but you should get to enjoy those moments yourself. The quickhit storyline is that Jason is again on the run and desperately trying to find out the answers behind his existence. Along the way he deals with surveillance, counter surveillance, assassins, the government, journalists, and a strange moment with a lady friend. It’s all done in the format that Greengrass has stamped the entire series with, frenetic blurry handheld shots that place an emphasis on highlighting hand to hand combat. It’s a great method, and it’s easy to see why Casino Royale ripped from it a little bit.
For me there were only two weak moments in the film; and the first happens in the first 15 minutes. You see, Bourne doesn’t start particularly well. It’s not horrible, not Norbit-esque, it’s just not the strong opening I’ve become accustomed to. Those minutes are.. dare I say.. boring. Luckily after the opening moments the film finds its way again, and all is fine in pacing world. The other weak moment might also be the film’s most interesting, and it revolves around the people who help Jason out. I actually can’t figure out if I liked the plot strand or not, so maybe I’m just being a jerk in labeling it “weak.” I tell you what, I take that one back. But I’d love to hear other people’s views on it once they’ve seen it.
What works? Everything else of course. First off, the fighting. The fighting always works in Bourne, it’s like they’ve figured out how to make combat both cool and transparent. You can see guys going for the next hold or punch, you can see the tactics and fighting style each combatant uses. As much as I love Batman Begins if it had The Bourne Ultimatum‘s fighting visuals the movie would be flawless. This one also really moves after that initial misstep, it gets better and better as it goes on. There’s legitimate tension as to how the series will end and although this movie doesn’t save the summer it certainly ends it on a sweet note. Lastly, the acting is solid all around, and the high-tech facet that the series has continually nailed is nailed again here.
All this means you should see The Bourne Supremacy. It’s a different kind of action film, a more menacing and brooding version, and it’s as good as a spy movie gets. Matt Damon is badass yet sympathetic (making me wish he could somehow appear in a Bond movie too) and after it was all over I wanted to see where this franchise was headed next. Heck, if it guaranteed me a Bourne 4 I’d even call this one the “best one yet!!” C’mon guys, whaddya say?