THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (action sequel)
Cast: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn and Joan Allen
Director: Paul Greengrass
Time: 110 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)
(Pic: Matt Damon & Julia Stiles)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? This third instalment of the Bourne franchise jumps right into the action from the opening scene, picking up from where "The Bourne Supremacy" left off. From then on, there is no let-up in the pace as we follow Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in his quest to uncover his real identity. If you are prone to sweaty hands when you are tensed, make sure you bring along extra hankies.
The "Bourne" series has a built-in sympathy factor for the protagonist - particularly in his bid for survival and in the loss of his German girlfriend (Franka Potente) in the second movie. Here, it comes into play again when we find the CIA top brass crying out for blood - Bourne's and anyone who comes into contact with him. So, as CIA director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn) and division chief Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), try to cover up a potentially embarrassing experiment, they opt for the easy way out: terminate on sight.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? As usual, the movie globe-trots with Bourne and he is constantly on the move - from Moscow and Paris to London where he tries to meet up with a British journalist (Paddy Considine as Simon Ross) to discover the reporter's source who may lead him to his real identity. The stakeout and subsequent cat-and-mouse game at the crowded Waterloo station are bound to leave us breathless. The sequences are significantly tensed because Bourne not only has to look out for himself, but also for the safety of his contact. As he outwits his pursuers, we marvel at his observation skills and knowledge of his surroundings.
Next, we find Bourne in Madrid, Spain, and Tangier, Morocco, where he meets up with old flame Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) and tries to intercept another contact. Here, the action takes place precariously over the rooftops of tenement houses and narrow streets.
HIGHS & LOWS: Throughout the movie, the action scenes appear rather blurry as the hand-held camera shakes a lot - even more than in the previous movie. Looking back, we now appreciate the clarity with which director Doug Liman helmed "The Bourne Identity", arguably the best of the series. Paul Greengrass, who also directed "Supremacy", is more into action and he does not seem to bother with pedestrian details like how an embattled Bourne can manage to move around the world so easily and quickly.
As expected, Bourne always goes 'full circle', returning to New York for the 'final encounter' with his old CIA colleague, Pam Landy (Joan Allen), and 'new' enemies. Here again, Greengrass does his sleight-of-hand tricks, making Bourne appear and disappear mysteriously in high-security buildings and offices. Yes, the "Bourne" espionage series works in the same 'gung-ho' way as the Bond outings - only that the action in "Bourne" is grittier and dirtier than Bond. However, the latter is also catching up in this department, as we have seen in last year's "Casino Royale".
As the closing credits roll, one thought comes to our mind: Will there be a fourth movie? Well, "The Bourne Ultimatum" is the last of Robert Ludlum's so-called 'Bourne Trilogy'. Ludlum died in March 2001 but his 'Bourne' stories were continued by Eric Van Lustbader in "The Bourne Legacy" (2004) and "The Bourne Betrayal" (2007).
THE LOWDOWN: Yes, it is safe to say that we will be seeing more of Bourne. Hollywood never lets its box-office heroes fade away.