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USA 2007
Directed by
Paul Greengrass
115 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum is a dualistic experience. On one level you’re caught up in the relentless, edge-of-your-seat action, on the other you’re constantly asking yourself questions such as how does Bourne manage to outwit the entire CIA black ops section with their arsenal of technology using only his cellphone? How does he manage to survive so many ultra-high risk encounters with little more than a scratch?  Where does he get his money from? How comes he never needs to use a currency exchange?  And so on and so forth.

Realism isn’t exactly a priority with Paul Greengrass’s film but with a fast-moving plot, chockers with hip spy business patois, bravura stuntwork, kinetic editing, lots of hand-held camera and a percussive soundtrack you’ll be so busy trying to keep up with things that The Bourne Ultimatum is still a fun ride

The third  instalment in the franchise loosely based on Robert Ludlum's novels, (its predecessors were The Bourne Identity  in 2002 and The Bourne Supremacy in 2004) sees Matt Damon back as Jason Bourne and still trying to work out who he is (he gets periodic flashbacks to some kind of forced induction) as well as seeking revenge from the people who terminated his girlfriend (which must have happened in the previous instalment but I can’t remember).  “These people” are a black ops section of the CIA, the brain-child of Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney) and run by stony-hearted Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) and his ruthless boss, Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn).  But Bourne has some friends on the inside in the form of senior agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) and agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), both returning from The Bourne Supremacy, who feel sorry enough for Jason to defy their sworn duty.

The plot by Tony Gilroy and Scott Z. Burns, however, is merely the armature for the action which is seamlessly handled by Greengrass. Although it is nearly continuous the highpoints are a cleverly staged foot pursuit of Bourne set in Waterloo Station, a gymnastic race across the rooftops of a Tangier medina to save Nicky and a brutal car chase through Manhattan streets that comes late in the piece (remarkably, without whiplash for Jason).

To some extent this is all rather exhausting and one can’t help but wish for a little more downtime so that Jason, if not we the audience, could rest up.  Still, probably wisely, the action’s everything here and the good news is that it’s rarely been done so well.




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