Da­mon, Green­grass back for more Bourne

The Covington News - - NEWTON @ PLAY -

In “The Bourne Ul­ti­ma­tum,” di­rec­tor Paul Green­grass has crafted an in­tense thriller and fit­ting con­clu­sion to the Bourne tril­ogy. Eas­ily the best in the genre since 2006’s “Casino Royale,” “Ul­ti­ma­tum” pushes the ac­tion to the lim­its of con­ven­tional film­mak­ing.

The movie be­gins, oddly enough, dur­ing the end of “The Bourne Supremacy,” with an in­jured Ja­son Bourne (Matt Da­mon) chased by po­lice in a crowded Rus­sian train sta­tion. Dur­ing the chase, Bourne has the first of many flash­backs, re­veal­ing piece by piece just how he be­came the killing ma­chine au­di­ences have been fol­low­ing for 5 years.

This sets the tone for the rest of the film, which is ba­si­cally just one long chase scene bro­ken up by flash­backs and quiet mo­ments of re­flec­tion. More so than in the pre­vi­ous two films, Bourne is the pur­suer, a man search­ing for his true ori­gins.

This pur­suit leads Bourne to a Lon­don re­porter who has writ­ten sev­eral ar­ti­cles about the mys­te­ri­ous as­sas­sin. The CIA is also af­ter the re­porter, who fool­ishly dis­cussed Black­briar, the name of a covert gov­ern­ment pro­gram, on his cell phone. Both Bourne and the gov­ern­ment could care less about the re­porter, but in­stead want the name of his source. This leads to an in­tense and spec­tac­u­larly chore­ographed cat and mouse game be­tween Bourne, CIA agents and an as­sas­sin in a crowded mar­ket­place.

The ex­change leaves both sides with only clues to the source’s where­abouts. Th­ese leads take Bourne around the globe to ex­otic lo­cals in­clud­ing Spain, Tang­iers and fi­nally back to where it all started in New York.

Da­mon plays Bourne per­fectly, giv­ing a min­i­mal­ist per­for­mance with just the right bal­ance of cold cal­cu­la­tion and hu­man­ity. He is be­liev­able both in the tense fight se­quences and in the film’s few quiet, thought- ful scenes. To say Bourne is a man of few words would be an un­der­state­ment, so Da­mon has to con­vey the char­ac­ters emo­tion through sub­tle looks and ac­tions.

The rest of the cast, as al­ways, is su­perb. Joan Allen re­turns as Pamela Landy, Bourne’s com­pas­sion­ate CIA pur­suer from “Supremacy.” Also re­tun­ing is Ju­lia Stiles as Nicky Par­sons, Bourne’s old han­dler and the only other char­ac­ter to ap­pear in all three films.

In a way, Nicky re­places Marie, Bourne’s mur­dered love in­ter­est from the first two in­stall­ments. Their re­la­tion­ship is fi­nally ex­plored and a past af­fair is hinted at, but never fully re­vealed. Most of Da­mon’s few lines of di­a­logue are re­served for scenes with Stiles.

New to the cast is the wel­come edi­tion of David Strathairn as Noah Vosen, Bourne’s lead hunter and head of the Black­briar pro­gram. Strathairn is great as a man who eas­ily jus­ti­fies his hor­rific ac­tions by deem­ing them to be in the coun­try’s best in­ter­ests.

The ac­tion is in­tense to the break­ing point. A chase across Tang­iers’ rooftops and an even- tual fist­fight be­tween Bourne and an as­sas­sin is per­haps the most ex­cit­ing and tense scene in any film this year.

Green­grass’ fran­tic cam­era move­ment works to cre­ate a sense of ur­gency and ten­sion, but al­most pushes too far. Even dur­ing the films quiet scenes, the cam­era is con­stantly shak­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion for the mo­ment the ac­tion picks back up. At one hour and 51 min­utes, “Ul­ti­ma­tum” is just long enough for Green­grass’ vis­ual style. This has been true for the en­tire fran­chise which, at a to­tal of 315 min­utes, is slightly longer than the fi­nal two in­stall­ments of “Pi­rates of the Caribbean.”

Un­like some other fran­chises, the Bourne films are a true tril­ogy that tells one co­he­sive story, so those who did not like, or who have not seen the first two in­stall­ments, need not bother. Fans of the se­ries should be thor­oughly sat­is­fied by the in­tense ac­tion and per­for­mances in the sup­posed fi­nal chap­ter in the Bourne saga.

B+

Paramount Pic­tures

Dan­ger­ous en­coun­ters: Am­ne­siac, ex-se­cret agent Ja­son Borune re­turns for more break-neck ac­tion and heart-thump­ing sus­pense in “The Bourne Ul­ti­ma­tum.”

Tyler Smith

Film Critic

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