FILM REVIEW: The Bourne Ultimatum

Tagged:  •  

The Bourne Ultimatum: This Summer’s Best Action Flick

Missed surfing the summer movie blockbuster wave these past three months? You are in luck – the best action film of the season just hit the multiplex. Based on the trials of CIA rogue threat Jason Bourne, spy novelist Robert Ludlum’s most memorable character, The Bourne Ultimatum packs enough excitement to make up for a relatively disappointing summer of trilogy enders: Spidey, Shrek, and Pirates of the Caribbean among them.

Here are ten reasons to check out Bourne:

10. Not convinced that Hollywood is working overtime to glorify our culture of state-sponsored violence? Just sit through Bourne’s previews for the fall action movie line-up: The Kingdom (FBI crack team targeted by elite Arab network in unnamed Middle Eastern country), Beowulf (The West’s most celebrated monster-slayer fable, animated with Angelina “Council on Foreign Relations” Jolie and Russell ‘Gladiator” Crowe), Shoot ‘Em Up (Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti in a hit man movie), American Gangster (Denzel Washington playing a black mobster). Guns, guts, grandeur, gore – bring it on. Who funds this stuff?

9. Matt Damon: At last, after two attempts, the actor has grown into the role of Bourne: world weary, tough, clever – it’s all in his eyes. Amazing what a few years will do to a young actor’s chops.

8. Camera tricks: Especially the mid-scene sudden half zoom, which is used over and over again and just doesn’t get old here. Watch the film with your director’s hat on, and marvel at some of the shots they’ve constructed here. And bring some Dramamine, as you may feel seasick watching this story unfold.

7. David Strathairn: The Good Night and Good Luck actor is a treat to watch – graying, tight lipped, intense – as Bourne’s rival. After his tremendous performance as Edward R. Murrow, it is good to see him receiving more mainstream movie roles like this one (even if his character is a bit insidious).

6. The film’s editing: Shaky, edgy, almost manic. I sat at the very back of the theater, and high up – and I still got dizzy. See #8, above. Important safety tip.

5. Killer sound byte: “This isn’t some story in a newspaper – this is real,” says Bourne to a Guardian journalist right before the bullets start flying in a crowded train terminal. Best action movie line of the summer.

4. Product placement: Did 3M, Google, Motorola, and Blackberry throw down some cash for mentions in this film? If not, they sure should have. Bourne even gets to Google some research in the film’s first fifteen minutes. Good to know that even super-secret spies rely on the big G for intelligence gathering.

3. 24/7 Surveillance: Like Fox’s 24 or Will Smith/Gene Hackman’s Enemy of the State, Bourne reminds us how much of a surveillance society we now live in. Our Blackberries, mobile phones, computer connections – all are conduits carrying not only our personal information, but our real time location whenever we are dialed in. Welcome to the Panopticon.

2. Julia Stiles: I’ve always liked her acting – nice to see her stretch again in a serious role.

1. Chase scenes: The number one reason why us celluloid thrill seekers go to summer action movies. This movie delivers ‘em, in spades. The Tangiers, Morocco rumble is particularly memorable, coming as it does at the film’s strategic point, once character and dramatic tension have been well established.