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THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez, Albert Finney, Joan Allen
Director: Paul Greengrass
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Universal
Features: See Review
Length: 116 Minutes
Release Date: December 11, 2007

“HE DROVE OFF THE ROOF!”

Film ***1/2

Of all the sequels to come out this year, the one I was anticipating the most was unquestionably The Bourne Ultimatum. And of all the sequels to come out this year, it was unquestionably the best! Although this third chapter was rumored to be the final installment in the series, and it does bring closure to all that’s occurred in this as well as the first two movies, I for one am hoping that we will be seeing much more of Jason Bourne in the future.

Matt Damon is back once again in his career-defining role, and also back for the proceedings is Bourne Supremacy director Paul Greengrass. And just as the case was in the previous two movies, The Bourne Ultimatum effortlessly blends white-knuckle action scenes with tremendous suspense, intelligent plotting and first-rate production values. Of the three movies, this one definitely has the most globetrotting feel, as the action shifts between different countries.

This third installment in the Bourne trilogy, adapted from Robert Ludlam’s novel, picks up right where the last movie left off. While in Russia and bleeding from a gunshot wound, Jason Bourne (Damon) starts having sudden flashbacks as he is treating himself. The flashbacks, showing him in some kind of training facility, may hold the key to the one thing he wants to know; who was it that trained him into a lethal government weapon.

But Bourne still has enemies within the CIA who want him wiped out immediately, most notably agency boss Noah Vosen (David Strathairn). Like the villains in the previous movies, Vosen considers Bourne nothing more than a threat and wants him taken out. It’s clear that by not revealing his motives for wanting him dead that Vosen may in fact be linked to the very people Bourne is looking for.

Also back on Bourne’s trail is Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), only this time she is working under Vosen. And she soon starts to suspect that her superiors are keeping her in the dark as far as the reasons for killing Bourne are concerned. The very fact that this character, who was such a fierce adversary in the last movie, becomes sympathetic to the hero is one of the many pleasures of this movie.

As Bourne makes his way through countless assassins in numerous countries, he comes into contact once again with Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) in Madrid. She was part of the initial operation to track down Bourne in the first movie, but now becomes his only ally in his plan to come face to face with the very people responsible for his creation, which then lead to his first assignment; Treadstone. The two then head to Morocco to track down an agent who may have leaked information concerning Bourne to a reporter.

At this point, the nonstop chase begins…and it’s a true rush.

The agency activates an assassin stationed in Morocco to take out Bourne. This leads to one of the most riveting action set pieces I’ve ever seen, as Bourne commandeers a motorcycle to escape the police who believe him to be responsible for a car bombing. The chase goes from street to rooftop, where a road runner-like Bourne leaps from building to building to save Nicky from the assassin trying to kill them. That leads to one of the intense fight scenes I have ever witnessed. It’s a purely effortless scene that is sure to go down as the best action scene of the year.

And it wouldn’t be a Bourne movie is our hero didn’t get to create havoc by way of driving. The action concludes in New York City, where Bourne leads his enemies on yet another fantastic and all too-real car chase. Every time I see a Bourne movie I walk away with the same feeling; wishing I had Jason Bourne’s driving skills. I would love it if I could drive at super-high speeds in dangerous traffic, get into the most outrageous car wrecks and survive without a scratch.

As you can tell, The Bourne Ultimatum is filled with plot, and so much of it that it’s difficult to pen a good review while at the same time not give away too much, which I don’t think I have. Also, it’s important to note that if you haven’t seen the first two movies, or have even forgotten about what went on prior to this movie, you absolutely need to go back and watch them because you will be somewhat lost in the proceedings.

So strap in for the most intense action movie of the year. The Bourne Ultimatum is one hell of a finish, if such is the case, to a rousing action movie trilogy.

Video ****

The first two Bourne movies were stellar looking presentations, so it’s no surprise that Universal applied the same top-flight quality to this release. The anamorphic picture is strong and dynamic from beginning to end. Image quality is clear and crisp as can be, and both light and dark lit scenes appear in tremendous form.

Audio ****

The 5.1 mix delivers in all the areas you would expect for this ferocious action thriller. The intense level of sound never lets up from the opening scene. John Powell’s score is tremendously heard in nearly every scene. And get ready to be immersed in the action as every gunshot, punch to the face, explosion and car crash is delivered to its fullest effect.

Features ***1/2

A nicely packaged release from Universal, including a commentary with director Paul Greengrass, Deleted Scenes, and a good number of terrifically made featurettes, including “Man on the Move: Jason Bourne”, “Rooftop Pursuit”, “Planning the Punches”, “Driving School” and “New York Chase”.

Summary:

The Bourne Ultimatum is both the best sequel and best action flick of the year, which is quite a phenomenal double quality to have. And should this be the final chapter of the Bourne movie series, I can certainly say that it’s been a tremendous ride from the first movie to this one!

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