The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
|Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Mystery / Thriller|
|Universal || PG13 - 109 minutes || July 23, 2004|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-07-24|
Writer(s): Robert Ludlum (novel), Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen
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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 it’s 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 Jason’s 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 Greengrass’ 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 Greengrass’ 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 – 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 (I’m 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 Bourne’s file inside out. Allen, as a Tommy Lee Jones-esque fugitive pursuer, is good. It’s 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 doesn’t 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 Ebert’s 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 “thrillers don't exist in a plausible universe”.
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.