The Bourne Ultimatum is a thrilling and riveting action movie, played out on a global backdrop and a liberal political tone.
Continuing straight after The Bourne Supremacy, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is on the hunt for the people behind an experimental spy program called “Blackbriar”. The program used intense physical and psychological torture tactics to build super spies, with Bourne their first success.
Tracking Bourne’s every move is CIA Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), who has marked Bourne as a threat to national security. Bourne must also contend with two super agents (Edgar Ramirez and Joey Ansah) who have bent sent by Vosen to kill him.
Director Paul Greengrass has crafted a fast paced film, which is enhanced by Christopher Rouse’s rapid fire editing and an energetic, percussion heavy score by John Powell.
The film is split between two factions; the first focusing on Bourne, and the second focusing on the CIA who are tracking his every move. Greengrass balances the two halves extremely well, using the sequences that feature behind the scenes political plot points to elevate the action scenes.
Greengrass also knows how to increase the tension to break neck velocity, with a number of nail biting sequences (Matt Damon navigating Paddy Considine through a sea of people, a great foot chase through the streets and rooftops of Morroco) cranking up the suspense to (at times) dizzying heights. There are also a number of crazy stunts, and a bone crushing care chase through New York City.
Matt Damon gives another great performance as the dogged spy who is still struggling with his demons. Joan Allen and Julia Stiles are good in their reprised roles, while Edgar Ramirez, David Strathairn and Albert Finney are all welcome additions.
Greengrass’ shaky cam, although effective is most scenes, can irritate in others. The feeling of urgency during the action and suspense scenes benefits from it, while strictly dialogue driven scenes suffer from an overuse of it. Also, a number of well choreographed fight scenes are marred by the effect.
A stinging left wing undercurrent is felt throughout the film. The evil Republican’s and their dastardly schemes are the real bad guys here, with their use of “legal” torture programs (Guantanamo, etc.) used to the filmmaker’s advantage in developing Jason Bourne’s identity. Considering the political leanings of Damon and Paul Greengrass, it is not a surprise, but can feel forced.
An engrossing action movie and a fine conclusion to the series.