Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Movie Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

The third installment serves as an attempted conclusion to an ongoing series yet suffers by falling into a similar routine of the previous two film. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has vanished from the spotlight after his disappearance six years ago in the epic Russian car chase. A new set of spies seeks to cover up the evil government assassin program when a witness to Bourne's inception leaks information to a reporter, an interestingly prescient scenario. Bourne is still plagued by memories of how he was tortured to mold him into a superhuman, so he contacts the reporter only to discover, the agents are tracking their moves.

Ultimatum establishes the signature Bourne chase scene that was so successful the last two films. Matt Damon runs and ducks and occasionally throws explosive stuff behind him to distract and hinder the authorities in their relentless pursuit. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) pops back up and she has fully converted to Bourne's side despite still working for the spy agency. She almost momentarily takes the place of the romantic interest but her role is cut short. Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) also returns to assist in the hunt for Bourne.

Other than the two female spies, the new male characters are remarkably similar, just portrayed by different actors. There is the head of the spy group Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), his subordinate Willis (Corey Johnson) the cold killer Paz (Edgar Ramirez), and a higher official Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn). There is a bit more information about Bourne's pace and the doctor who lead the program that created him Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney).

The hand-to-hand combat and foot-to-vehicle chases are intense and fun to watch, but it is difficult to avoid the feeling that it has become formulaic. The chase scene in Tangier is certainly cool with Bourne hopping from rooftop to rooftop and crashing through glass windows with a visually stunning faceoff with another assassin (Joey Ansah). The car chase feels a little too familiar and can't match the Supremacy chase. Paul Greengrass is a master action movie director and, once again, pulls off the shaky came without being too dizzying, distracting, or confusing. 

Bourne stays one step ahead of the bumbling government officials as he uncovers the mystery. The movie does feel self-contained not relying primarily on the early stories to fill in the blanks on this one, but it would like any emotional resonance without its predecessors. The ending also feels lackluster and doesn't tie much up with a vague conclusion that left things open for a sequel, an option they eventually used. At least by the end, the theme song has become really catchy.

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