The Bourne Supremacy (2004) - Widescreen Edition

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Mystery / Thriller
Universal || PG13 - 109 minutes - $19.98 || December 7, 2004
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-11-06


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer(s): Robert Ludlum (novel), Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Gabriel Mann, Joan Allen


Theatrical Release Date: July 23, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending (Hidden)
  • 7 Featurettes
  • Anatomy of a Scene
  • Scoring with John Powell


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

The Bourne Supremacy was one of the bigger surprise hits of 2004 and one of the best films to come out during a summer season with over-stylized CGI scenes that, while great looking, added up to squat when it came to story -- a trend that continues as technology advances and story and character take a back seat to it. I recently went back to see The Bourne Supremacy at the cheap theater and again today on DVD, and both times, I enjoyed the film immensely!

Original Review:
2002 brought us a new vision of the spy-thriller made oh so popular with James Bond. Back then, people -- including myself -- questioned the casting of Matt Damon as amnesia-stricken Jason Bourne. But, thankfully, not only was Damon believable as a government created super-assassin, but the movie, The Bourne Identity; itself was a good piece of work to see on a hot summer night. Now, two years later, with Matt Damon returning and a new director, Paul Greengrass, at the helm, The Bourne Supremacy does not skip a beat, in fact itís better on more levels than the original.

Jason and his sweetheart, Marie (Potente), are living in India and living life as a couple on the run, living a low key lifestyle. However, despite Jasonís threats, the CIA has come back in their lives after Bourne is framed for the murder of two men central to a CIA sting operation to find a mole from within. The head of the operation, Pam Landy (Allen) takes charge of finding Bourne and getting the answers she wants and needs. Under pressure, she brings aboard the former members of the Operation Treadstone (the group that created Bourne and other assassins). Meanwhile, Bourne also is coming to terms with his own past as his nightmares have put together bits and pieces of his first job while also hunting down those who want him dead.

The Bourne Supremacy surprised me in many ways- from different plot twists to the good works behind the camera with editing and Greengrassí direction which has a certain gorilla style to it -- which no doubt will annoy some of you other there -- though I myself, appreciated. Also surprising is that this is Paul Greengrassí first big budget film after helming a scattershot of TV movies and low-budget feature films. As I said, based on the chatter on message boards and such, many people have absolutely hated it.

Identity and Supremacy play like two chapters in a book (kind of like The Lord of the Rings trilogy Ė which I definitely am not trying to make any similarities beyond that) as both films opens simply with a title, and end with the same kind of credits, thereby giving it a certain continuity that will play nicely on DVD once all three films have been released (and re-released in a box set) some 2007/08 (Iím making this assumption based upon crowd reactions so far and the $50m+ weekend opening).

Matt Damon, as I said in the opening, is believable in this role and once again, I must give props to Universal and Identity director Doug Liman (who may have had a falling out with the studio) for making a certainly unusual casting choice that others would have placed with someone more built for the actioner -- like, perhaps, Ben Affleck? Anyways, I think Damon is great as Bourne and gives this assassin-turned-good guy a real soul.

Supremacy co-stars Brian Cox returning as Ward Abbott, Joan Allen as Pamela Landy and Julia Stiles as Nicky, the woman who seems to know Bourneís file inside out. Allen, as a Tommy Lee Jones-esque fugitive pursuer, is good. Itís neither a great role nor one that has much depth to it, she is, however, believable and a formable foe to Bourne. Brian Cox also does a good job reprising his role that has more to do this time around. Lastly, Julia Stiles, whose role in Identity was dwindled to walk-on status and even though she has more screen time here, she still doesnít fulfill the fullest of what the role could offer (we always have Ultimatum, though).

One of the reasons (other than a good, solid plot) The Bourne Identity was such a hit was because it featured a car chase that rivaled that of Ronin or even The French Connection. This time around, the filmmakers (most of whom, with the exception of Greengrass, were around for Identity), upped the anti. This car chase is absolutely amazing and although it goes on for quite a bit of time, was stunning to watch. In Roger Ebertís review, he questions the amount of possible collateral damage left in its wake. I will cede his point, but like he also said, this is a thriller and that ďthrillers don't exist in a plausible universeĒ.

Overall, The Bourne Supremacy is an excellent spy-thriller that surpasses the original and has more to offer than merely another summer blockbuster film. Give this sequel a chance, you will be Supreme-ly surprised at what you will get.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

For a sleeper hit that The Bourne Supremacy was, I had hoped for something more than I got, which makes me think -- given Universal's track record -- that a Double Explosive Edition may be released before The Bourne Ultimatum (we all know its coming). However, that said, they did manage to cover a decent amount of ground with 8 featurettes plus Anatomy of a Scene and director's commentary.

The Featurettes: (Total Time - Approx. 41:20)
Matching Identities: Casting (5:30) - This is the weaker of the featurettes as you have the standard interviews with actors, producers and the director kissing butt about how great their co-stars were, etc. What I did find interesting, though, was trying to replace a "classy" actor like Chris Cooper with that of Joan Allen, and I have to agree - she was a good replacement. The rest covers a bit about each of the returning actors like, of course, Matt Damon as well as Brian Cox and Julia Stiles.

Keeping It Real: Photo Shoot (5:00) - Describes the style indie director Paul Greengrass brings to a big budget -- and sequel -- movie. The best line I found was that they wanted the look of Supremacy to be that it was like it just happened.

Blowing Things Up: Pyrotechnical Sequences (4:00) - A pretty cool featurette that describes the sequence in which Bourne blows up the upper-class suburbian apartment/condo. You get a good behind-the-scenes look of the work that went into making this scene work and without the use of CGI, just the good old fasion wires and pyrotechnics.

On the Move with Jason Bourne (4:50) - If the casting featurette was weak, this is the worst one of the bunch. It goes through the three major locations of Berlin, Moscow and Goa (India) and shows some clips from the film and more interviews from the usual: cast, producers... you know the drill. While some information was indeed past to the watcher (such as why locations were chosen and hardships endured), I just felt they could've shown some more of the character of these cities where movies rarely go.

Bourne to Be Wild: Fight Training (4:20) - This looks at the fight sequence between Bourne and the other last remaining Treadstone assassin. They chronicle this brutal fight and the preparation for it. Not all that exciting but covers another aspect of filming.

Crash Cam: Racing Through the Streets of Moscow (6:00) - Obviously this one covers the big chase scene in the film. They don't go too in depth with it but it does show that they (once again) use very little CGI and go with the tried and true method of wires and other tricks of the trade. Again, nothing worth more than one viewing but somewhat interesting, at least.

The Go-Mobile Revs Up the Action: Action Photography (6:50) - This gives you an inside look of how Hollywood films some chase scenes (or just footage of scenes taking placing in cars. What they do is attach a metal frame to replace the engine part of the vehicle (it has a structure like race cars) and the actor can sit in the driver's seat while the stunt driver can do all the work. How it happened before was the car would be on a platform and being pulled by another vehicle which would really limit what could be filmed.

Scoring with John Powell (4:50) - No, this is not some dating advice... or anything the like (they really should've picked a better title). Anyways, this featurette replaces those useless composer commentary and wraps it all under 5 minutes, which gives Powell enough time to tell the viewer what and why he brought back a piece from the original and different little themes and the such.

Other Features:
Commentary by director Paul Greengrass - Indie director Greengrass goes solo and basically gives the listener a play-by-play of what he's watching and little real information. But, as the film goes on, he does open up a bit more (like Bourne Identity director Doug Liman) about government secrecy and his thoughts on it. As a director, he does explain that he wanted to give this Hollywood film an independent feel. What he does not explain, however, is how or why he signed on. He says that he was scared to tackle something of this magnitude and thanks producer Frank Marshall for helping, but what made this man go to a film whose catering budget was as much as an indie film he'd direct? I will assert this again: please add another person in, just to mix things up a bit, I think it would've helped here (especially during some of the lulls...)

Anatomy of a Scene: The Explosive Bridge Scene (4:40) - Wow, those guys at Universal sure love the "explosive" title, yeah? Anywho, this feature truly takes us behind-the-scenes from Damon's flight up the stairs to his swan dive to the barge passing below the bridge -- a stunt, interestingly enough, Damon did himself (with the use of wires). This is fun to watch and includes a blooper at the end as Damon missed going over due to the wiring (and milks it for all its worth).

Deleted Scenes (7:09) - Included on the disc are 5 deleted (useless) scenes. While more often than not I know why a scene was left on the cutting room floor yet are well acted, these were pretty bad to begin with. One scene in particular, "Abbott Gretkov in Berlin" in which the two meet on an isolated bridge in what looks like a poorly directed and badly acted scene (sadly from Brian Cox, who spends most of the time looking over his shoulder- which is OK, but when you see it, it LOOKS like he's acting).

Alternate Ending - This is a hidden feature that is (at this point) not accessible via a regular DVD player. There are a couple of ways to get to it but one of them may or may not be legal therefore I will not post it here.

SPOILER - As for the scene itself, after Bourne leaves the apartment he collapses outside in the snow and wakes up in a hospital room where Landy is looking over his file. It is here she reveals his real name and asks him to come back to the CIA. She leaves and tells one of her assistants (as well as Nicki) that she'll give him 30 minutes. As they're walking down the hall, a nurse is bringing food but upon entering the room, Bourne is gone. The next scene has him on the streets of Burlin before disappearing when a bus passes by (the Moby song plays like before).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

I've got to say, I love John Powell's Bourne score and that comes through nicely as well as explosions (which are not over-powering) and the big car chase. Picture-wise, director Greengrass' muted and dark tone can be a bit hard on the eyes as some scenes are very dark (which was on purpose).



.::OVERALL::.

The Bourne Supremacy is a DVD that you should only get if you like the film and not for the features. Though these are not a total waste, they don't take long to get through and once you do, you're good. No need to see 'em again. As a film, Supremacy still is one of my favorite films of 2004 and hope that Ultimatum can top a great sequel to an already great original.