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Movie Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

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The Bourne Ultimatum is the final film in what has been an amazing and action-packed trilogy of thrillers based on the late Robert Ludlum’s novels featuring the same characters and plot. Matt Damon has turned in some of the best work of his career in these movies. He appears at once as invincible and unstoppable as Jason Bourne, yet is also vulnerable and lost.

In the first movie, fans learned that Jason Bourne was just a pseudonym and not the character’s true name. In this movie, we finally find out what the character’s name really is. Of course, those people who have already read the books knew that.

The first two movies, to a degree, paced the action and played to the tension in scenes. The Bourne Ultimatum goes for the throat on action sequences from the very beginning, but there are still some brilliant twists and turns to the plot that will catch the audience off balance.

Julia Stiles reprises her role as Nicky Parsons, a CIA agent who believes Bourne and sympathizes with him. Joan Allen plays Pamela Landy, a CIA supervisor clever enough to catch Bourne – or to help him find out what exactly was done to him. Both of these women are strong and individual in their roles even though they aren’t allowed much screen time.

David Strathairn is absolutely marvelous as Noah Vosen, the evil CIA mastermind fans of the series have come to enjoy hating. His acting is spot on and his deviousness is purely Machiavellian.

But the thing that really drives this movie is the pedal-to-the-metal action. Once the movie rips into motion, it simply does not slow down. Although two hours in length, the movie breezes by and is gone before you’re ready, although it is intensely satisfying. Bourne’s opponents aren't the only ones capable of devious and twisted action.

Even though he’s been hunted, Jason Bourne is a relentless predator. He asks no quarter and gives none, totally merciless when dealing with those who would do harm to him. He’s the kind of hero every guy wants to be and every woman wants to fall in love with. The fight scenes, the chase scenes in cars and on motorcycles, the marathon races across rooftops and through apartment buildings are physically demanding and look great on screen. Evidently Damon did a lot of his own stunt work when he could.

The film was also shot on numerous locations, giving it a spectacular visual appeal. Scenes were shot in New York City, England, France, Germany, Morocco, Spain, and India. The story’s pacing burns through the terrain, but you can immediately tell it was shot on location. The stunt crew must have had a field day with this one. All the dazzling escapes, explosions, and chase sequences are extremely well choreographed and look great on the screen.

Personally, I felt this movie was a little less plot-dense then the other two. There was more of a linear progression in this one, without all the side stories. We knew Bourne was being hunted, and we knew that Vosen was the bad guy. But everything tied together and made sense.

At the same time, some of the scenes strain credulity. Not the action sequences, because I was willing to go along with those. But in one instance, Bourne was able to break into Vosen’s office without being caught. We never got to see that happen, and I can’t believe it would be so easy that he would do it in a matter of minutes while they were hunting him. The security in that place, even before the threat of Jason Bourne being in the city, had to have been extremely high, not just mechanical security devices, but also human guards. It was a great plot twist to have Bourne invade Vosen’s office, but I really had to stretch to believe it could happen.

The world seems to have rediscovered Robert Ludlum through these movies. Several of the late author’s novels have been recently reprinted, and there’s even a new film adaptation of The Chancellor Manuscript underway starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It seems as though Hollywood has finally figured out how to make realistic spy thrillers and is doing a bang-up job of choosing source material the same way Quentin Tarantino did when reinventing the crime thriller using Elmore Leonard’s books.

I’m waiting to buy the Bourne movies when they come out on HD DVD. The first two have already been released in that format. But I’m holding out for a collector’s set of all three. I’ll probably have those, though, when Matt Damon decides to do a fourth movie in the series. Two new Jason Bourne novels have already been written by best-selling author Eric Van Lustbader. A fourth movie would disrupt my collected set, but I would be happy to see another one.

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About Mel Odom

  • KYJurisDoctor

    Bourne is America’s Bond, but unlike Bond who loves to shoot ‘em up, Bourne loves instead to beat ‘em up with his fists, kicks, the rest of his body and his “stolen” cars. I love Bourne’s action scenes better.

  • Victoria

    Bourne is not the orginal sterotypical hero, watching these films are new and exciting and even though some of the scenes can be desrcibed as fare fetched, it is still very enjoyable and excting to watch. The director uses the camera to show the characters feelings and emotions very well, creating a real atmoshpere and tension the audience can feel. As for Matt Damon, what an unilkey acion hero!