The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

PAUL GREENGRASS

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA/Germany, 2007.  Universal Pictures, Motion Picture BETA Produktionsgesellschaft, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Ludlum Entertainment, KanZaman Services, Peninsula Films, Studio Babelsberg.  Screen Story by , Screenplay by Tony Gilroy, , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2007.  Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2007.  National Board of Review Awards 2007.  Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2007.  

The thing I love about action movies it that they take movie stars, people who basically spend their time off getting their hair washed with Evian water or snorting cocaine off of stripper’s stomachs, and make us believe that they’re actually fine-tuned machines who can speak forty languages and jump from window to window in buildings in any country in the world. In the case of the Bourne series, which here reaches its final destination, the ruse is perfectly acceptable:  all three films involve gritty, believable knife-fights and car chases, they avoid having the hero spout cheesy one-liners while taking out nameless villains, they eschew jingoistic patriotism and they make sure that Matt Damon always has terrible bags under his eyes so that we forget, if only for instances at a time, that he’s a Hollywood Boy Wonder who once won an Oscar for writing a screenplay at the age of twelve. Paul Greengrass, director of the previous chapter as well as Oscar-nominated for last year’s incredible United 93, returns to the helm of this excellent conclusion, in which Bourne finally narrows his search down to the identity of the person who holds the answers to the questions he’s been asking for years: who is he and why is he so good at knowing where all the bad guys are on every street corner? Damon’s Bourne is a great cinema hero, always succinct and to the point with his dialogue, slipping across national borders and never for a moment moving at a slow to moderate pace; he’s like Carmen Sandiego without the big, red hat. The rapid-fire editing, smart, crisp dialogue and another terrific turn by Joan Allen as the CIA operative with a burgeoning conscience are familiar to fans of the first two films (particularly the second, as Doug Liman’s directorial style in the original film was slightly different), with this one falling slightly behind the last chapter only because the plot isn’t quite as rich. It’s actually quite a simple story, but Greengrass is incredibly effective at sucking the audience directly in by elongating the experience with some really long action sequences, all of which are first-rate.

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