Earlier this month I watched THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002) for the first time, based on the spy thrillers by Robert Ludlum.
This weekend I completed watching the original trilogy. Here are my takes on the next two films in the series:
...THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004) picks up right where THE BOURNE IDENTITY left off. More so than most sequels, it's simply an extension of the first film; Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still trying to understand who he is, and some of the same bad guys are still out to take him down.
As the movie begins, Jason is living in a remote area with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente), the only person he knows he can trust.
Before long, however, an assassin (Karl Urban of RED) locates Bourne and shows up to kill him. Once more Bourne must crisscross Europe, staying one jump ahead of those who want him dead. Among those who want Bourne erased: Ward Abbott (Brian Cox, also seen in RED) of the CIA, an evil man who kills his colleagues without a second thought.
An unexpected wrinkle for both Bourne and Abbott is CIA agent Pam Landy (Joan Allen), who begins probing Bourne's history. Allen is excellent, a real asset to the film, and I was glad to note she'll also appear in the next title.
This was a solid film which will please fans of the first movie, as it's basically more of the same, including the return of Julia Stiles as Nicky, a young Paris-based agent. The one difference is Paul Greengrass took over directing, replacing the first film's Doug Liman. I prefer Liman's smoother style; Greengrass is all about supertight closeups and a careening camera. The movie was shot by Oliver Wood, who filmed all three movies in the original trilogy.
The storytelling can be a bit convoluted at times, leaving the viewer feeling like a scorecard is needed to track the players, but if you stick with it, it all sorts itself out. At 108 minutes the film is more compact than THE BOURNE IDENTITY, which works to its benefit. The time seemed just right.
As with the original film, one of the pluses is the extensive location shooting, ranging from Germany to Moscow to India. It's a great-looking film with good atmosphere.
Parental Advisory: THE BOURNE SUPREMACY is rated PG-13 for violence, intense action, and brief language.
THE BOURNE SUPREMACY is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Amazon Instant Video. A short trailer is at IMDb.
...THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007) begins exactly where THE BOURNE SUPREMACY ends, with a wounded Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) trudging through the snow in Moscow. This once again underscores that the three films are really one long story.
Certain members of the CIA still want to kill Bourne, but he edges closer to finding out why thanks to detective work by Agent Pam Landy (Joan Allen), who begins to uncover evidence of a rogue operation within the agency. The agents who were involved are desperate to kill Bourne to hide the program's existence, and eventually agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who aids Bourne, is also targeted for execution.
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM is, for the most part, action-packed and exciting, though I suspect some aspects would become clearer to me if I sat down and watched all the movies again! There are a lot of players in a very complicated plot.
My favorite sequence was a cat and mouse game shot in London's Waterloo Station, where we spent a good deal of time during our 2009 trip to London. It was beautifully choreographed and quite thrilling.
The one place the movie falls apart is near the end, when everything grinds to a halt as Jason learns the truth about his background. Getting to that point at the end of three films should be exciting, and instead it ends up being an incredibly boring, slowwwwww sequence with underwhelming revelations.
There's some nice symmetry with a watery ending, bringing us full circle, as THE BOURNE IDENTITY began with Jason in the water, and water was also part of a key sequence in the middle film.
Like THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM was directed by Paul Greengrass and filmed by Oliver Wood. The supporting cast includes Scott Glenn, Albert Finney, and David Strathairn.
Parental Advisory: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM is rated PG-13 for violence and intense action.
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Amazon Instant Video. A brief trailer is at IMDb.
In the near future I also plan to watch THE BOURNE LEGACY (2012), the lone Bourne film to star someone other than Damon. Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in the Marvel films (most recently CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR), stars as Bourne.