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WGUC Reviews

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum
Universal Pictures
Rated PG-13
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas


It's a proven fact that, especially in the summer, moviegoers are attracted to the tried, true, and familiar, which explains why there are so many sequels. This summer, there have been quite a few that are number three in the series, which can stretch the limits of quality, plot and interest. Some of these sequels have failed to live up to critical and/or commercial expectations. The one that has exceeded them is The Bourne Ultimatum. Not only was it the biggest weekend opening ever for any film in August, but also it is the exciting action film of the summer.

Matt Damon returns as amnesiac uber agent Jason Bourne. He can't remember who he really was, or what he did, or why he did it. He's still in search of the truth, and along the way just about everyone in the whole world wants to kill him. Fortunately for him, and for us, he's skilled in every form of hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship, and stunt driving. Also fortunate is Matt Damon is a good actor, and quite believable in his role. Even though he still looks really young, his acting skills get better with each film.

The first film, The Bourne Identity, directed by Doug Liman, was more of a low-key character driven piece reminiscent of 1960s espionage thrillers with some action scenes punctuating the story. It was one of the best films of its year. The Bourne Supremacy got a new director, Paul Greengrass, who has a penchant for shaky camera work and dizzying editing, to the point of almost causing motion sickness in your theatre seat. It was distracting to say the least.

The really good news is that, even though Greengrass is back as director on The Bourne Ultimatum, he's borrowed from the styles of both previous films to make a stunning action film that also takes time to visit the characters. Based on the novel by best-selling author Robert Ludlum, it supports the theory that it's easier to make a good film from a good book.

The wonderful actress Joan Allen is back as CIA operative Pamela Landy, a role she played in number two. Also returning for her third outing is Julia Stiles, as an undercover agent. She has little to do, which is fine, since her acting prowess is limited. But coming along for the ride…and the chase…in this outing are David Straithairn, Oscar nominee for Good Night and Good Luck, as the shady, secretive head of the operation; Scott Glenn as the chief of the CIA; and the always magnificent Albert Finney in a small cameo role.

Also returning for the third time in the same job is composer John Powell, turning in yet another fine score that complements the story and action.

The Bourne Ultimatum is a tale of survival and discovery, with twists and turns around every corner, and featuring some of the most spectacular stunts and action scenes that you'll see all year. It succeeds on every level…as a spy thriller; as an action movie; as escapist fare; as a think piece on the nature of governments and identity; and as a top-notch summertime popcorn movie.

The critical and commercial success of The Bourne Ultimatum practically guarantees that, in a couple of years, Jason will be Bourne again.


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