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Worth A Look: 34.52%
Average: 2.38%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.38%

7 reviews, 42 user ratings

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Bourne Ultimatum, The
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by Erik Childress

"The Ultimate Action Hero For Our Time Indeed"
4 stars

As the Bourne series was coming into its own, the James Bond franchise was dying out in quality; “a relic of the Cold War” as he was referred to in one of the Brosnan entries. While box office certainly didn’t suffer, along came Jason Bourne, the spy who came in from the cold water without a memory but with all the skills of a one-man killing machine. After all the problems and delays that came with the first film (with Doug Liman still managing to deliver a solid piece of entertainment), director Paul Greengrass was brought in for The Bourne Supremacy and it became a non-stop rush in the vein of a more brutal Fugitive. All hailed Bourne as the new Bond, but hold the phone. Along came Casino Royale to revitalize the superspy by incorporating the latest in action techniques to the literal beginning of the hero’s journey. Bourne is at the end of his and may have lost his edge in the power race, but even at the finish line, Greengrass, Matt Damon and screenwriter Tony Gilroy have given us a spy series for our time that has gotten better with each successive film.

Ultimatum kickstarts us right back into the events of Supremacy, specifically the aftermath of Jason Bourne’s (Damon) reckless car chase through the streets of Moscow. Weeks later, U.S. government operative, Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) is tracking the activities of journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) who has been writing a series of articles on the mysterious Bourne and what the connection may be to something called Blackbriar. Bourne has read them too and seeks out Ross to put together the final pieces of his fractured psyche. Agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) who also believes there’s more to the Bourne saga heads up the search despite not seeing eye-to-eye with the act-first and not-regret later, Vosen.

Bourne’s contact (and subsequent protection) of Ross finds him another lead in agency department head, Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton), the source of leaks that Vosen and CIA director, Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn), would rather have plugged. With a pair of “assets” (Edgar Ramirez & Joey Ansah) splitting time hunting on agency orders, Bourne finds his own in recurring contact, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who always appear in the wrong place at just the right time. With visions of a tortuous “breakdown” and a doctor resembling Albert Finney bouncing around in his head, Bourne must survive scrape after chase and get back to the allegorical place he calls home.

The Bourne Ultimatum does NOT stop! I think its important to get that out of the way if only to emphasize that this is one of the few films that live up to the wholly overused phrasing of “non-stop.” Having warmed up on Supremacy and expanding on the frenetic multi-tasking of his Bloody Sunday docudrama with one of last year’s true masterworks, United 93, Paul Greengrass applies everything to craft a steroid rush worth raging about. In a sequence worthy of most action finales, Greengrass detonates us through the first act where Bourne must keep the journo out of the hands of agency liquidators while avoiding detection himself and keeping radio silence from those who can hear all. The pure pacing and editing of this scene is frighteningly on-target contributing paranoia, cat-and-mouse pursuit and domino theory with the proficiency of Garry Kasparov on a dozen Red Bulls. And that’s just for starters.

Every other scene is either a set-up or an execution to action and even the expository bits in-between have the ring of exigency to them. Crafted to fit what is essentially one long chase picture, each sequence is an extension of the last – longer, wilier and more vicious in its consequences. A centerpiece second chase through Tangier implements Greengrass’ shaky-cam style to a nearly nauseating degree, but it works as the sheer exhaustion of Bourne’s pursuit over rooftops, on scooter and through windows is almost a 3-D IMAX experience seen through the squid devices of Strange Days. By the end of it, where Bourne shows his booksmarts along with his physicality, you are longing for a mano-to-mano combat sequence to vent your equality of his breathless fortitude and mano do we get one. As a series noted for having one kick-ass car chase per movie, Greengrass almost comically extends the demolition derby of Supremacy’s climax and while there’s not much of a chase persay when every one is getting hit and stopped, Ultimatum delivers on one of the all-time how-did-they-walk-away-from-that car crashes you’ll ever witness (if it hasn’t already been spoiled in the car commercials advertising the film.)

Adrenaline and endorphins notwithstanding, Jason Bourne has become the model action hero for a post-9/11 America. A man trained to serve his country without questioning orders, it took a moment of conscience for him to search for the identity he had lost; an identity with a country he was proud to believe in and fight for. Unlike James Bond who is predisposed to terminate with extreme prejudice from square one of his Double-O career, Jason Bourne is a man who is tired of killing. More significantly, he’s tired of killing with no rationale. He’ll do what’s necessary for self-preservation, but the blindness he’s suffering from is more than amnesia. It’s the disinformation that has propelled him from soldier to the guinea pig of a nation flaunting an authority that they know more about you than you ever will. Your privacy has become their memory.

It’s a Cliff’s Notes version of the lessons from Steven Spielberg’s Munich that turns us all into speed readers before the opening titles are even flashed. The cynicism that underlies the rampant action does justice to the whole trilogy but leaves us with hope for the future (with Bourne’s familiar Moby theme remixed) and in eager anticipation for what Paul Greengrass will deliver next. Matt Damon has put the (reported) final stamp on this signatory role and it’s his steely-eyed performance, a character who lost empathy a long time ago, that we identify with as an counterpart to the coldness of the carnage around him. Ingenious in the way it ties in the epilogue of Supremacy against our expectations, The Bourne Ultimatum is the decisive capper on one of the rare series that will surely get better with time even as we hope to one day look upon its own themes with relic status.

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originally posted: 08/03/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell snappy & exciting 4 stars
7/03/11 slayer best action movie in decades 5 stars
6/26/11 con air outstanding 5 stars
6/19/11 terror leigh james bond wishes it could be as great as this 5 stars
5/11/11 the rock one of the best spy movies ever 5 stars
2/10/09 Todddi edge-of your seat intelligent thriller 5 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. definitely the best in the trilogy! :] 4 stars
10/28/08 blah blah amazing glad to heat they are gonna make another one 5 stars
5/07/08 Sarbu Rada A really awesome movie. I hope there's more Bourne in the coming years. 5 stars
3/05/08 dude great action 5 stars
3/03/08 R.W. Welch Another snazzy entry, tho the series begins to show signs of wear. 4 stars
2/12/08 pixie dust solid spy chase flick with too much shaky cam but fine action 4 stars
2/09/08 mike Insane high speed action. Excellent movie! 5 stars
2/05/08 Indrid Cold Am I the only one who finds these Bourne movies incredibly repetitive and shallow? 3 stars
1/26/08 Pamela White fast paced and enthralling great plot and action 5 stars
1/14/08 Anthony Feor Probably the best of the three 5 stars
12/19/07 hrow I felt greatseeing it, but depressed afterwards 4 stars
12/13/07 davidbobo20 Awesome movie! If you like first two movies, this is a must see! 5 stars
12/12/07 actioin movie fan thrilling pursuit, very good story and action good third part but camera a bit too shaky 5 stars
10/14/07 chris. good ending to a great trilogy 4 stars
10/02/07 Rick absolutely amazing, so much action, and there's also a story, unlike so many action movies 5 stars
9/09/07 Russ As good as the rest 5 stars
9/08/07 HW what a great action flic cant wait to see it the third time and then all three together. 5 stars
9/07/07 aaaetc Fast-moving, plot is Bourne trying to discover his origins, shaky camera is distracting. 4 stars
9/06/07 mr. mike non-stop thrills , with some unconvincing detours. Straitharn is outstanding and steals it. 4 stars
9/03/07 Stephen No plot, shaky camera equals very bad movie that gives headaches 1 stars
8/31/07 bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb best of the three 5 stars
8/20/07 AJ It was fairly entertaining, but it's just one big action scene--almost no plot or dialogue 3 stars
8/20/07 Steve Action All the way Through; puts the highest rated movie to shame. 5 stars
8/19/07 MP Bartley Doesn't really answer anything, but it just pulverises you into submission - and it's great 4 stars
8/19/07 Monday Morning Better than Bond & MI combined. 5 stars
8/18/07 David Graham Best of the trilogy, & the best thriller ever made, a Bourne thrill. 5 stars
8/16/07 Nick Wheres the plot, just a bunch of meaningless 'action', Dumb movie 1 stars
8/14/07 AJ Muller Phenomenal; how is it that these flicks (which were great to start with) just get better? 5 stars
8/14/07 damalc very good but, somehow, i'm just not blown away, like a lot of people are by this series 4 stars
8/12/07 KingNeutron Totally awesome - a fun ride. 5 stars
8/07/07 Captain Highcrime The come-uppance conclusion will have you remarking "Not in George Bush's America." LOL 5 stars
8/07/07 Quigley Loved every second of it. Easily the most satisfying three-quel released this year 5 stars
8/05/07 CrazyJayy Easy to follow, mindless,suspenseful, entertaining eye-coaster. 5 stars
8/05/07 Ole Man Bourbon Fun, but kinda empty. Interesting how few lines Damon actually has. 4 stars
8/04/07 Todd Kick ass movie, great way to end the trilogy. Amazing action and acting. 5 stars
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  03-Aug-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 11-Dec-2007



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