Bourne Ultimatum–Movie Review

Contain Spoilers: Abandon All Whining All YE Who Continue Reading….

Bourne Ultimatum opens in medias res with Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) practicing seasoned tradecraft to escape the clutches of determined operatives. Immediately the viewer is drawn from a brief panoramic distance into a claustrophobic and nightmarish panic of black-ops gone awry. The result is a rush of sensory feasting as we follow Bourne from London to Italy, on to Madrid and then to Morroco before finally landing in New York City for the climactic showdown. All the scenes are shot on location, compliments of the unique local cultures, as well as their gorgeous architectural and geographical landscapes. The transitions are sudden, even jarring, but they immerse the viewer into the vibrant textures of the respective locales.

In this installment of the ongoing saga, Bourne is seeking to discover his real identity and to find the people who made him who he is. There are people in high places, however, who would rather see him terminated. Yet he is not entirely alone. Not all who function at high levels at Langley and at the New York City Bureau have given themselves over to unquestioning obedience to the corrupt cronyism of specific power-brokers. Yet those that do have the full resources of Langley at their disposal exploit the vulnerabilities of a curious Guardian reporter to trace the whereabouts of Jason Bourne. I will belay the revelation of further details. Suffice it to say, according to script writer’s view of the CIA and NSA, there seems to be an unfettered fixation on eliminating threats, regardless of who they are. It gives the impression of pervasive conspiracies at the highest levels.

The direction of this movie is first rate. My only quibble is that it does feel a bit claustrophobic at times, especially during a fight scene where it was hard to see the full scope of the action. If the intent is to provoke a panicked desire to back off, the director succeeds. However, I should like to have seen from a more distant vantage point the very swift hand-to-hand martial arts in which Bourne and his adversary were engaged.

During the quiet conversation scenes, the director makes effective use of light, expression and silence. It is as if he is borrowing from the very best of the European sensibilities, adding a literary flare to an action genre spy thriller. Often the camera is placed behind the left shoulder of one actor while glancing at part of the other actor’s face. This forces the viewer to consider the one visible eye and its movements. Facial twitches are also more noticeable. However I do not care for the constant shaking camera, in the tradition of NYPD Blue. A limited amount of it is fine. But for me, it is distracting.

The movie is rated PG-13 for violence and language. The scenes of violence show very little blood. However a few of them are disturbing, especially a strangulation scene and an execution scene with a gun. For this reason, I think the movie should have been rated R. Children should NOT be allowed to view this movie.

This is a thinking person’s movie which blends character, locale and action to weave a complex story which will keep the viewer pondering long after the credits have finished their final tribute to the vast production crew.

Glen Woods

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2 thoughts on “Bourne Ultimatum–Movie Review

  1. I very much enjoyed this film (though the books are still better… I’m a fan of both).

    Only thing I didn’t like was the “shaky cam” approach, as was also done in Supremacy. There was a different director on the first film (Doug Liman) vs. the 2nd two films (Paul Greengrass)

  2. I haven’t read the books yet. But I may very well do so given how impressed I was with this last movie.

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