Friday, August 3, 2007

From the Archive: "The Bourne Ultimatum" Film Review

Film Rating: A–

Welcome to The Archive, a comprehensive collection of reviews dating back to 2007, originally written for The Denver Post’s YourHub.Com website and print edition!  In the archive, you’ll find hundreds of movie, DVD, Blu-Ray, and TV reviews, along with other special features.  You can access the complete Archive Collection by clicking here, and read about the archive project by clicking here. 

Continue reading after the jump to access my original review of “The Bourne Ultimatum.”

From the Jonathan R. Lack Review Archives:
“The Bourne Ultimatum”
Originally published August 3rd, 2007

In 2002, a little film came out titled “The Bourne Identity,” inspired by a series of books by author Robert Ludlum.  The film, packed to the bursting point with action, intensity, and one of the coolest car chases to grace the screen in a long time, the film was a hit.  Matt Damon played the title character Jason Bourne, and proved that he was born to play the role.  Two years later, a sequel was made, titled “The Bourne Supremacy,” and continued the story of Jason Bourne’s quest for identity.  Supremacy seemed somewhat lacking in a few departments, and when it was over, it felt like we hadn’t got the whole story.  What we didn’t know was that Supremacy was only part 1 of a 2 part epic that concludes the story of Jason Bourne in the absolutely best way possible.

The Bourne Ultimatum picks up right where Supremacy leaves off.  Bourne has just found the child of one of the people he killed as an assassin for Treadstone, and has done his best to apologize.  Now, he’s going to go find out the secrets of his past, and nothing will stop him from discovering the truth about the man he was, because only when he finds out the whole truth can he finally let go of the past and become a new man.  I won’t give away any more of the plot—that’s the basic premise, and seeing it develop across the course of the film is what makes the experience fun.  Let’s just say that Bourne is going to have to karate-chop his way through hordes of assassins and government agents before the film (and the series) reaches its gripping conclusion.

Like I said above, Ultimatum is basically just the second part of Supremacy, and as such, the film’s main flaw is that it just doesn’t work as a standalone film.  There’s no build up in the beginning—the buildup for this movie is all in Supremacy.  As such, one of the things Supremacy lacked was a sufficient conclusion and denouement, both of which are found in Ultimatum.  While Ultimatum is packed to the gills with some of the most exciting action and stunt sequences ever caught on film, it has little character development—Bourne’s character development is mostly found in Supremacy.  Everything that happens in both films is sparked by Marie’s death in the opening of Supremacy, so if you’re expecting to find Bourne’s motives for taking action within this film, you’ll be disappointed. The two films work a lot better if you consider them to be two halves of a whole, and when you put them together, you have that rare sequel that not only manages to be equal with its predecessor, but actually surpasses it.

As I mentioned, the action in this movie is absolutely fantastic.  There’s oodles of hand-to-hand combat that will have you on the edge of your seat, another excellent car chase, and a roof-top foot chase scene that is one of the most tense and exhilarating sequences in the whole trilogy.  All this is complemented by another excellent film score by composer John Powell, who delivers tense thriller music combined with hardcore action tunes and emotion-filled slower pieces that enhances the film tenfold.

But what really drives the film is another stellar performance by Matt Damon, who gives us even more insight into Bourne.  He has very little dialogue in the film—many side characters probably have 3 more times the speech, but Damon is a master of nonverbal acting.  Damon’s performances are very subtle, and you understand the performance after the movie is over, when you’ve had time to digest it.  His performance makes the absolutely fantastic ending even more powerful, and I hope he continues to take roles like this in the future.  The supporting cast is solid too, with a small but vital role played by veteran actor Albert Finney, who shines in his (albeit small amount of) screentime. 

In short, The Bourne Ultimatum is a great piece of entertainment, and while it can’t stand on its own as one independent film, it still is a great finale to the story of Jason Bourne.  When combined with Supremacy, the film is, in my opinion, nothing short of a modern cinematic masterpiece, just like the film that spawned it, The Bourne Identity.  See it as soon as you can, just make sure to watch Supremacy shortly before you go to the theater.  

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