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The Bourne Ultimatum – movie review

September 22, 2007

We got to see this thriller a week late in India, but gosh, what a movie! Sheer unadulterated enjoyment. Like eating my favorite dessert for a good one hour and 51 minutes with every minute like the first bite!

Really, this is the best time I have had in a theatre in months….

The camera work in The Bourne Ultimatum (directed by Paul Greengrass) is not just dizzying, it gives the viewer a roller-coaster ride. The editing is tighter than I have ever seen, making the movie spin ahead at an exhilarating pace.

Good movie? You got to be joking. The movie is downright fantastic. Some reviews have compared this film to other action flicks like Die Hard films, 007, and Oceans…but the Bourne films are a class apart. Firstly, all the films in this trilogy have been good…Identity, Supremacy and now…Ultimatum.

I also like the character of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) better than all the characters of those other films put together. Jason is a man torn apart by the fact that he is a killer. But until he loses his memory, he doesn’t know it. I think this is an interesting concept because people often become who they are in adulthood by ‘adjusting’ to the vagaries surrounding them, by getting influenced by people around them …and in the process go against their very basic nature. Losing his memory sets him on a self-discovery path in the first film of the triology…and in this third one he comes close to finding out who he really is.

The movie opens with Jason on the run in Moscow, and in that sense it starts off from where the second in the series left off. Right from the start the pace is hectic, with Jason hopping from Moscow to London to Paris to Tangier to New York, with the CIA bad guys barking at his heels. Their intention? To take him out. His intention? To find out who he is. The main villain of the piece is Noah Vosen, CIA’s Deputy Director (David Strathairn).

Jason comes close to his goal when he meets up with Simon Ross, a reporter (played very ably by Paddy Considine) who has been in contact with Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton), a CIA agent who has leaked information about Bourne’s identity to Ross. Jason knows he has to get to Daniels…before the CIA does.

This third in the series, while not possessing anything new in terms of storyline, appears fresh and exciting. Why?

Well, it isn’t just the skilled camera work, the slick editing or even the poignancy of Jason’s character…it’s also the actual scenes. My favorite is the one at London’s busy Waterloo station. Jason via his cell phone gives step-by-step instructions to greenhorn Ross on how to dodge the CIA men following him (Ross). The scene, with the camera switching from the milling crowds, then to Jason and then to Ross, to other people, to the surveillance cameras to Vosen and his team watching the scene unfold on tv screens…is a breathtaking one and superly executed. Everything seems to happen in the blink of an eye, and yet the viewer is not confused.

The car chases and collisions were also well done…absolutely a treat to watch. Another scene worth mentioning is the fight between Desh, a CIA hitman (played by Joey Ansah) and Jason. It takes place in a small apartment, and the angles are all close-ups. I loved the camera work…it left a lot to the imagination as one cannot see the exact positions of the two men. This scene follows another great one – a chase on the rooftops on Tangier.

The film has its violent parts, but nothing too violent, and nothing gory.

Another thing I liked about this movie was how the director managed to bring out the flavor of the different cities, whether it was London, Paris or Tangier, all with the minimum of scenes.

Matt Damon himself looks haggard in the film but I thought the look went well with the story (why should guys on the run look as if they have just stepped out of the beauty parlour?) specially as Damon is not that hot in the acting department. Anyway, he didn’t have too many lines…but overall I liked Damon in the film.

Jason’s character was almost like that of a superhero in this film…the stunts and wins that he pulls off with such ease… but this didn’t bother me…I think I quite liked it.

There were some things which were not explained. Like the exact (past?) connection between Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), the pretty CIA operative and Jason, for whom she risks her life and job. There were also some other mysteries about Jason’s past which were not fully explained, although he does find out his identity at the end.

Overall, I think the film was brilliant because it was tightly edited and yet very clear. I get irritated when directors try to be stylish and in the process make it difficult for the viewer to follow the story.

I want to see the next sequel…now! 🙂 Or perhaps I’ll buy all the three movies and watch them again, one by one.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2007 9:39 am

    Yeah, it was an amazing movie, I loved it too!
    My favorite is the Waterloo station scene…the background music is so apt, the tension was so palpable…I watched the trilogy back to back…and I was walking almost twice as fast the whole week. The Bourne effect!

  2. September 22, 2007 9:42 am

    its based on a 3 part series novel…
    i do not think there would be a sequel to it

    Ankur, the movie has deviated from the book a lot, so I think a sequel is a possibility – Nita.

  3. B Chopra permalink
    September 22, 2007 10:09 am

    I was waiting for this movie from long time and finally I saw it on first day & first show here… and You know, It made my waiting worth.. I enjoyed so much.. I’m very very happy abt it.. 🙂 Is there any better action movie than this?? This much better than those Bond & Mission impossible series of movies..

    Matt, You are awesome dude! You have set new standards thru this movie!!!! lemme see who beats you now?

    I am also waiting for it’s next sequel.. Hope they release soon this time!

    and Finally I wanna say It’s perfect Incredible, thriller & action movie.

  4. September 22, 2007 10:30 am

    Actually Matt Damon said in an interview that this was the final movie in the series (though you never know). I loved reading Bourne series of books in college and was a bit miffed when they took the character but changed the story. But I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed all three movies in the series, with the Bourne Ultimatum being the best. Awesome movie, and also critical of US/CIA.

  5. Shantanu Chatterjee permalink
    September 22, 2007 11:15 am

    Yah even I loved the movie though they should release such movies simultaneously.I mean such a large time gap only encourages piracy.

  6. Shantanu Chatterjee permalink
    September 22, 2007 11:22 am

    btw there are several non-robert ludlum bourne novels. And if they can make 007 movies long after exhausting Ian fleming’s books I am sure they could find more plots since the movie is sort of open ended as far as the main character(I won’t say anything else 🙂 )

  7. September 22, 2007 11:41 am

    I agree with you there Shantanu, I don’t know why they couldn’t have released the movie earlier. the point about piracy is absolutely valid. also I feel really bad when a movie is released late…

    Amit, for all you know they might drop Matt Damon. 🙂 I believe he is a difficult person to get along with.

  8. September 22, 2007 2:20 pm

    Bourne is supposed to be superhuman because he is one of the most highly trained covert operatives/assassins in the world.
    Yet to see the movie…..

    Er…i know. But its a little more than that Rambodoc, when you see the movie you can tell me if if his stunts are normal for highly trained covert operatives/assassins. most of the films in this genre are like that, they portray the hero as superhuman, not literally like with superhuman powers like in Superman you know, but doing the impossible. I’m a movie buff, so ask me. 🙂 Nita.

  9. September 22, 2007 8:57 pm

    Rambodoc, yes he is highly trained, but I doubt that even such a trained person could crash a car at a very high speed and then simply walk off within seconds of the crash with minimal effects on his body. Every time. Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie, but there’s exaggeration on the part of the director and (some) willful suspension of disbelief at my end. 🙂

  10. Shefaly permalink
    September 22, 2007 10:07 pm

    It should have been called The Attack of the Bourne-oid…

    My view differed vastly from your positive and enthusiastic one, but I am prone to abstractions even in films requiring the suspension of all logical faculties.

    My post:
    life or something like it after the weekend

  11. September 23, 2007 9:08 pm

    I loved the movie in isolation but I didn’t like the fact that it deviated from the original story line…. Plus some stuff was really silly. I’d give it a B+ (I see everything in terms of grades these days)

    Hi Priyank! Actually I have stopped giving grades…! I don’t know why. I think in terms of what I am looking for in a movie, and if I am looking for fun, and I get it, I’m happy! 🙂

  12. Oemar permalink
    September 24, 2007 10:03 pm

    I loved this movie… I was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time… its difficult to continue the same heat in a trilogy series… but this one did

    Oemar, me too sitting on edge of seat!!

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