The Bourne Ultimatum
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Paul Greengrass
scr Tony Gilroy, Scott Z Burns, George Nolfi
with Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Albert Finney, Edgar Ramirez, Colin Stinton, Daniel Br¸hl, Joey Ansah, Tom Gallop
release US 3.Aug.07, UK 17.Aug.07
07/US Universal 1h55
The Bourne Ultimatum
Look behind you: Damon and Stiles

allen strathairn considine

See also:
The Bourne Supremacy (2004) The Bourne Legacy (2012)

The Bourne Ultimatum Ripping straight back into the story (previous knowledge required), Greengrass maintains the edgy energy he injected into part two to give us the summer's most intelligent, satisfying blockbuster.

Jason Bourne (Damon) is reeling from the events in Moscow, where he finally caught up with the shadowy Treadstone group that trained him to be a ruthlessly efficient killer. Now he wants the full story, beginning with a London journalist (Considine) who seems to know something. But Treadstone is hot on his heels. Bourne follows the trail to Madrid, where he meets former handler Nicky (Stiles), and together they head for Tangier, and another tenacious assassination attempt. Eventually, Bourne tracks the leaders (Allen and Strathairn) to New York for a final showdown.

With a smart script and Greengrass' visceral direction, this film grabs us by the collar and throws us into the action; we feel every punch and smash. It looks like it was shot on crowded streets with real people running for cover in the background, from the cool suspense of the Waterloo Station standoff to jarring fender-crunching through Manhattan. In between, the extended Tangier section provides an ingenious motorbike chase, aerial derring-do and a vicious fist fight in extremely close quarters.

These sequences are shot with hand-held cameras and edited like they put the film through a paper-shredder, and yet they are the most coherent action scenes in recent memory, catching telling details without wasting a single frame. Even the insinuating flashbacks are kinetic. By contrast, scenes in which the characters catch their breath feel draggy and dull. Although they help the actors deepen and broaden their characters, drawing us into the growing mystery and surprising us with small moments and unexpected actions.

Damon is a terrific everyman hero, avoiding tough-guy heroics for something more desperate and sympathetic, even though he seems to be made of steel. Allen is as impressive as usual in the most shaded role, while Strathairn does wonders with a strangely one-dimensional character who seems written to bear the weight of a nation's fury at its arrogant government. Yes, the pointed themes make the film timely and urgent. But it's basically just a cracking thriller. And they don't get much better than this.

cert 12 themes, violence 31.Jul.07

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Bourne Ultimatum Laurie T, Minneapolis: "what can I say - am still trying to catch my breath. This movie starts with action and never stops. I have to say even I can admire the editing - the plot flowed - I detected no gaps in it. Matt Damon seems indestructable - is there another one coming? A good movie to go see on the big screen!" (14.Aug.07)
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall