Slug: review-the-bourne-ultimatum Date: 2007-08-23 Title: “Review: The Bourne Ultimatum” layout: post
Jodi and I went to see The Bourne Ultimatum this weekend. I’d seen it a couple weeks ago, but wanted to see it again before reviewing it.
The Bourne Ultimatum is, in a word, excellent. The central characters and themes are carried over from the first two movies, but the story never feels like re-tread (stone?) of the preceding films.
I’ve fallen in love with the intimate, near-documentary style mastered by Paul Greengrass (this film and The Bourne Supremacy) and The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman. As viewers we feel like we’re right there with the the characters, lending an intimacy and tension to scenes that might have seemed slow or unimportant had we been watching from a comfortable distance.
While I loved the quiet, intimate moments, The Bourne Ultimatum is at it’s core an action movie, a spy thriller, and the action here is simultaneously both larger, more intense than in the previous films and easier to follow. The hand-to-hand fighting (and there’s a good bit of it) is tight, intricate work, taking place in hallway and small rooms.
The close quarters keeps the camera (and the viewer) right up with the combatants and the sense of intimacy once again heightens the tension. As well, Greengrass emphasizes that assassins can’t be choosers: fights involve books, candlesticks, misc toiletries, razor blades, and towels - whatever is at hand is turned into a weapon and the stakes seem the higher for it.
Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I love me a good car chase, and Ultimatum delivers. The Fugitive may have pioneered the wireless destructo-cam (where small cameras transmitting footage wirelessly are placed in scenery that is going to be destroyed, so as to capture everything up to and including the destruction of the camera), but this movie uses them with wild, reckless abandon. No vantage point is safe from a head-on, or tail-on, or side-impact collision, and the result is shots that had me climbing out of my seat.
Bourne uses his vehicle (a commandeered police/security cruiser) not only as transportation, but as a weapon - stopping suddenly to force a rear-end collision with a following vehicle or reversing direction at high speed into another (sacrificing the entire trunk to put an SUV chasing him out of commission).
In the end, my greatest pleasure in the Bourne series is that I feel like I was taken seriously as a viewer. There are no “winks” at the audience, no 4th wall shenanigans, no tongue-in-cheek references or smart-ass parting shots after each kill. These movies aim to entertain, but they also expect me to keep my brain engaged. And that’s are rare thing in action these days.
4.5 out of 5, um, whatevers.