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The Bourne Supremacy /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Produced by: Pat Crowley, Paul Sandberg, Frank Marshall
Written by:
Tony Gilroy
Universal Pictures


Matt Damon and Franka Potente in Universal Pictures' The Bourne Supremacy
Joan Allen in Universal Pictures' The Bourne Supremacy
Matt Damon in Universal Pictures' The Bourne Supremacy

     In my review of The Bourne Identity, I was clearly enthusiastic about the subject. In fact, the exclamation point to period ratio in it was nearly one to four. The 2002 film, directed by Doug Liman, was an international success, and developed quite a following. It grossed several hundred million dollars internationally, boasting sleek action scenes and a captivating story. It was only substantial that a sequel be made, and the fact that source-writer Robert Ludlum had already written one was a mere plus. Once again, I found myself immensely enjoying the adventures of the protagonist, Jason Bourne, but as a whole, The Bourne Supremacy is slightly lesser of a film than its predecessor. As slick as director Paul Greengrass’ style is, his product isn’t nearly as engaging, at times, as Liman’s was.

     The Bourne Supremacy opens to Bourne (Matt Damon) and his love interest from the previous film, Marie (Franka Potente), who have settled in India, together. Shortly thereafter, they are trailed by men who are familiar to Bourne, when driving, and forced to accelerate off of a bridge and into the surrounding water. Seconds before their plunge, Marie is hit by a bullet that was intended for Bourne, and dies. He must go on the run yet again, as the CIA closely tails him. Wondering what he has done to deserve this, Bourne finds that he has been framed for the murder of an agent and his wife. The Bourne Supremacy serves as both an account of its title character’s attempt to recover his true identity, as he did in the first movie, and to take revenge on those who have put him in such a questionable position. Surprises are, undeniably, in store.

     In this outing, the best part of the picture is not the sly action sequences, but Greengrass’ study of Bourne’s psyche. He has a bit of an internal battle regarding exactly how exactly he should handle himself in his tough position. His rather limited knowledge of himself is rather prevalent in his decisions, also. There is a particularly terrific scene at the very end of The Bourne Supremacy, in which he talks to the daughter of the couple he supposedly murdered. While I won’t, by any means, spoil it, I must say that it makes a bold statement about how sympathy and the ability to identify with someone’s situation impact an individual’s personal burdens. The one trait that The Bourne Supremacy possess that its predecessor neglected to embrace is psychology. I was astounded at how deep this movie was able to be, within the confines of its rather simplistic plot

     Matt Damon is pitch-perfect once again, in the multi-dimensional role of Jason Bourne. Here, he concentrates more on facial gestures and inner-fury than simple Bond-like coolness, creating a more subtle character-explosion. The tone of his voice and his eyes’ movements are always done with the utmost level of thought, especially in a scene where he talks to the lead CIA agent on his case, named Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), as he points a gun at her, from the building parallel to the one that she’s standing in. Bourne’s point of view is shown through both his mind, which is often worn on his sleeve, and the viewer in the gun. One is that of a chaotic man, searching for answers, crucial to discovering who he really is. The other represents the straight, evil, and violent one-dimensional side of him. Damon, in a tight bond with Greengrass’ vision, displays this superbly. Even one of his co-stars, Julia Stiles, who was downright awful in the previous entry in the series, improves here, despite the limited screen-time she has.

     It is when The Bourne Supremacy tries to satisfy the interests of its younger viewers that is fails. The final action sketch, in which Bourne simultaneously swerves a stolen taxicab throughout traffic, to escape from his enemies, and removes a bullet from his chest and cleans the wound with Russian Vodka, is especially pointless. This does not allow the picture’s plot to evolve, in the least. I can see the point of continuing Liman’s fondness for car chases, but I think that Greengrass should’ve definitely shortened this particular flurry. His ability to combine the old tricks with his techniques needed refining, albeit somewhat acceptable.

     I see that Ludlum has written a third novel in his series, entitled The Bourne Ultimatum, and given the success of this second film-installment, the franchise is sure to become a trilogy, in Hollywood. Being a fan of the flicks, I, personally, cannot wait for the next one. If Greengrass is to direct again, it will certainly be a treat, as the style he has introduced here will be able to evolve. The Bourne Supremacy is a rarity; it joins Spider-Man 2 as one of the few pure summer-blockbusters, currently in release. If all box-office successes, from now on, could be as good as this one, the world would be much better off.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (7.27.2004)

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