Friday, August 24, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum

by Reymundo Salao

Synopsis: All he wanted was to disappear; instead, Jason Bourne is now hunted by the people who made him what he is—a legendary assassin. Having lost his memory and the one person he loved, he is undeterred by the barrage of bullets and a new generation of highly-trained killers. Bourne has only one objective: to go back to the beginning and find out who he was.

Understandably, the movie is tied with the previous two movies. It's not as if Bourne is heading off on to a new adventure. We are tackling on Bourne's issues from the previous movies that are never resolved. Sure, he took care of Project Treadstone at the first movie, sure, he took care of those who framed him & killed his girlfriend in the process in the second movie, but at the core of Bourne's crisis is his identity, which is never resolved or given finality... up till now. On the same thought, the film's consistency with the first two movies is what makes the film all the more outstanding. Such consistency makes it appear as if there was already a grand plan to make the movie a trilogy in the first place. Sometimes, it makes you feel suspicious enough to wonder if all three movies were made at the same time.

Paul Greengrass retains his shaky camera style, which may be sometimes not impressive for those who like to take a good look at the details of action scenes, but then again, the beauty of this style is that it makes the action all the more raw, intense, and realistic. Kicks and punches look more fast and more painful. Greengrass’ background in documentary filmmaking and also his background involving knowledge in the world of espionage have made his 2 Bourne movies, not only as considered among the best spy movies, but also given it legitimacy.

Like Ludlum, the film's director has delved into the shadowy world of espionage. In 1987, Greengrass coauthored—with Peter Wright, the agency's former assistant director—a personal account of a former MI5 secret-service operative. The British government's attempts to ban "Spycatcher—The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer" ensured its exposure and ultimate status as an international bestseller. Greengrass' glimpse into the actual workings of the spy game gave him insight few other directors could have for Bourne's story.

Jason Bourne is the thinking man's action hero. Within the first twenty minutes of the movie, we are able to witness a very intense, very thrilling action sequence; an action sequence with no fighting, no explosions, and no destruction; It is a scene where the parties employ a cloak and dagger type of hide, search & chase scene. The Bourne movies are grounded on realism. You have the Bourne stories set against the backdrop of current events, wherein the world has already become vigilant after the events of 9-11, with espionage and anti-terrorism has become very active. And the CIA's omniscience using modern technology but within the confines of what already exists. There are also no un-realistic gadgets here. After all, as the movie establishes, spies use their own raw wits first than reach for some Bond-type gadget to help them out of a nasty situation.

Certainly, Jason Bourne has made Matt Damon the now big action superstar that he is. Before Bourne, he was unlikely to be an action hero, now he with the creators of this Bourne franchise has established the template for the ideal spy action hero, so much so that even the new James Bond movie is taking inspiration from the Bourne movies. Damon's Bourne is a man who clearly is burdened by his own past. There is a quiet agony in this hero that seeks closure on the great mystery of who he is. Damon makes us see this clearly with his impressive performance. Returning from the second movie is Joan Allen who plays CIA operative and internal investigator Pamela Landy, who did a great job in the second movie as Bourne's hunter-adversary and eventually had developed sympathy for Bourne, and she does a similarly great job with this sequel as she plays a more significant role in Bourne's quest. Also playing a significant role in Bourne’s quest is the recurring character of the former Treadstone agent Nicky Parsons who is brilliantly played by the beautiful Julia Stiles, who, like Damon gave her acting image more depth with the Bourne movies; she has proved that she is more than just a pretty face that appears in preppy romantic movies. Among the new players in Bourne’s world is CIA Deputy Director Noah Vosen, played by David Strathaim, who has been in several movies such as LA Confidential, Simon Birch, Sneakers, and Goodnight & Goodluck. Vosen heads “Black Briar”, an upgrade of Treadstone mentioned at the very last part of (part 1) Bourne Identity.

The trilogy closes with a blast, and indeed, as its tagline appropriately goes; This summer, Jason Bourne comes home. Bourne Ultimatum and the two other Bourne movies are indeed among the best spy movies ever made. Perhaps among the top five even. A rare balance of legitimate storylines and thrilling, audience-cheering action. Bourne is spy-action gold.