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Movie Review
The Bourne Supremacy


2004

Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Brian Cox
C


he Bourne Supremacy opened Friday, two years after the release of its surprisingly good predecessor, The Bourne Identity. The second installment of Jason Bourne’s (Matt Damon) story reveals that “surprisingly good” is still the best way to describe the original film. Robert Ludlum’s string of novels based on an amnesiac/CIA assassin certainly prove once again to be fertile ground for creating taut action films, but heightened expectations leave the viewer less impressed on the second go-around.

Bourne, part deux, revolves around a CIA investigation following a failed mission that resulted in the loss of a field agent as well as a large sum of U.S. taxpayer cash. CIA deputy Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), whose team ran the original botched mission, wants answers when a fingerprint pulled from an explosive device used by her perpetrator comes up as classified in the agency’s database. Shortly thereafter she makes inquiries to her superiors and colleagues about project “Treadstone”.


Look what I have created! I...have made fire!!!


After acquiring the proper clearance to unmask the mystery fingerprint’s owner, Landy makes her way to The Bourne Identity holdover Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) to grill him over the probable whereabouts of one Jason Bourne. As Mr. Abbott attempts to convince his zealous peer that Bourne is untraceable, said super spy’s original U.S. passport is scanned at the Italian border, triggering a CIA computer alert.

Since Bourne is a perfect espionage machine, the audience should know that his use of a known passport must be a plan; but lest we assume too much, they are treated to dual storylines in chronological order. While Landy is piecing together fingerprints and the nature of Treadstone, Bourne finds his idyllic life on the beaches of India drastically altered by a killer of considerable skills. So talented, in fact, is Bourne’s new adversary that he believes his old bosses are still trying to erase his existence.

If you’ve seen the first Bourne film, or one of the plentiful trailers for the sequel, you have seen his, “I’ll take this fight to your doorstep” speech in which he threatens to attack the directors of the Treadstone program. Well, it turns out ol’ Jason was serious, and he’s so confident in his ability to take fights to doorsteps that he foregoes any usual stealth (hence the passport issue) for an unspoken, “I’m gonna git you sucka!”

Along the path of Bourne’s revenge and Landy’s investigation, murky pasts are made lucid and plans are adjusted accordingly. Similarly, as in all action/thrillers, people and events are not what they seem, and the revelations of their true nature play important roles in the film’s plot. Predictable writing, however, is not what made The Bourne Identity good and The Bourne Supremacy a solid follow up; what makes this brand of spy film interesting is its (relative) realism.


I always get so sad around the holidays...


Jason Bourne is more believable than your average action hero: when he jumps from a 50-foot bridge to a passing boat, he actually hurts his leg; when he is confronted with five police officers, he runs away rather than giving them a Bruce Lee demonstration. There are no stupid one-liners following spectacular deaths, no bad sex jokes, no, “Screw that machine gun, I’ll keep my six-shooter,” moments. Bourne and his behavior are somewhat plausible, and that’s what made the first film such a refreshing take on the tired action genre.

The acting is still strong for a popcorn flick; Brian Cox stands out as usual (does he not have the greatest voice in film today?). Bourne 2’s pacing is thrilling and the frugally included fight scenes are well executed. Plus, the final car chase scene is probably one of the most exciting ever shown on screen. Which leads to the perhaps unfair conclusion that The Bourne Supremacy is as good as the original, but leaves the already experienced Bourne viewer more satisfied than wowed. The best way to experience the sensation felt while watching the end credits of this sequel roll is to imagine Radiohead having released, in 1997, a record equal in quality and identical in character to The Bends. Sure, Altitude Sickness would have been very good, but without the “That’s Radiohead?” effect of witnessing progression, the album would have left us wanting more.



By: Kevin Worrall
2004-07-28


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