With a plot that seems to have been cribbed from a Spy Movies for Dummies book The Bourne Ultimatum is the weakest of the three Jason Bourne movies. The pulse racing action of the first two installments is still very much in evidence, but the proceedings are brought down by a poor script that could have used a run through the de-clichéifer before cameras rolled.
When we join Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) he’s still on the run. He’s been on the lam for three years ever since he was fished out of the ocean, left for dead with a bad case of amnesia. In his search to reclaim his lost identity he’s slowly putting together the shattered pieces of his life, leaving a trail of havoc and death behind him. He’s a highly trained ex-CIA operative, he knows that much, and in the new Bourne he continues his search of self discovery. On the path to his self awareness a journalist is shot in a crowded train station, cars fly through the air, get blown up and do any number of unnatural and unsafe maneuvers and Bourne displays the kind of fighting technique that would make Hulk Hogan run for cover.
The problem here isn’t Damon, after three installments his minimal portrayal of Bourne is honed to a science, or the action scenes; it’s the cliché ridden writing that bogs down the CIA scenes. When Bourne is in the field the movie is self assured and exciting, but when the “action” heads back to CIA HQ and the behind-the-scenes efforts to locate and exterminate Bourne the movie skids to a halt.
Oscar nominated David Strathairn is perfectly cast as the head of a black ops group empowered with a license to kill; a man whose calm exterior masks his internal viciousness. He’s a great actor, but unfortunately every line that comes out of his mouth here sounds like something recycled from other spy movies. When he barks “We’re on lockdown!” or “I want the area shut down in a four block radius” I wondered what he could have done with the part had he been given something even halfway interesting in terms of a script.
Director Paul United 93 Greengrass knows how to shoot action. There is a hand-to-hand combat scene in Morocco that is as exciting, chaotic and violent as any sequence in the Bourne movies, I just wish he had spent more time on the moments between the mayhem.
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