Retro Review: Bourne Supremacy

Robert Ludlum’s super-spy Jason Bourne returns after a two-year hiatus. This new cinematic hybrid of the Ludlum series of novels was a surprise box office hit back in 2002 when Matt Damon became the amnesiac assassin in “The Bourne Identity”.

The film was such a success that in some ways it changed the face of spy thrillers for modern audiences. It really is a shame that the James Bond series hasn’t adapted this new way of telling a spy thriller.

The sequel picks up closely to where the first film left off as we find Bourne (Damon) and his lover, Marie (Franka Potente) in Goa, India as they once more try to stay under the CIA’s radar.

Meanwhile in Berlin, CIA ice queen Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) watches as her operation implodes and the only key to its demise is a fingerprint left by the saboteur.

The print belongs to Bourne and Landy begins to unravel dark secrets buried within the Treadstone project which created super-assassins like Jason Bourne.

The keys to finding and catching Jason Bourne seem to be two people. One is ruthless Ward Abbott (Brian Cox), former head of the Treadstone project and the other is the last person to see Bourne alive Nicky (Julia Stiles), a CIA analyst posing as French exchange student in Paris.

As Landy unlocks Bourne’s secrets a critical event rocks Bourne to the core and sends the world’s most lethal man after not only the CIA but Landy herself. Now the question isn’t will they find him but will they survive long enough to get what they need.

“The Bourne Supremacy” is sure to wet the appetite and delight fans of the first film. The film marks the return of “Bourne Identity” scribe Tony Gilroy who weaves a very interesting intrigue filled plot. The script is utterly faithful to the first film as it throws back to the first film and continues the story without missing a beat. It is an amazing return for Gilroy and let’s hope they already have him working on the third film.

Matt Damon’s spy portrayal has always been an enigma to casting directors throughout Hollywood.
Why did this choice for a spy work so well? The answer probably lies in the strength of the character and Damon’s reserved, tormented and resilient approach to his super-spy on the run.

In this sequel, we watch as Damon continues his brilliant work in the role. He is cold, calculated and not for one moment do we believe that he can survive the most harrowing of situations. Damon also does marvelous work with his memory loss scenes and he never misses a beat. He is brilliant.

Another brilliant performance is that of Joan Allen, whose ice-queen of a role becomes the perfect adversary for recurring sleazeball Brian Cox. Their chemistry and shouting matches make for some really interesting and awakening intrigue. Cox was such a success in the first Bourne film, as he squared off against Chris Cooper’s maniacal Conklin, but Allen antes him up in this film.

My problem with this entry in the Bourne series has to do with some of the choices made by director Paul Greengrass, who directed the gripping Irish civil rights massacre drama, “Bloody Sunday”.

Greengrass’s approach to Bourne is interesting in a lot darker and his drama filled scenes are his strengths but he seems to be lost in the high-paced action sequences.

When we are thrown into an action situation as Bourne fights for his life, the camera flies all over the place in a nausea-inducing frenzy. All we can make out is two shadows grunting and grimacing as the fight escalades. The same is when Greengrass delivers us into a showdown between Bourne and the psychopath Kirill (Karl Urban) in a harrowing car chase through Moscow. His camera is all over the place which takes away from the impact of the action.

In the first film we felt Bourne’s pain because just like Bourne himself each one of his calculated moves and actions was captured by the camera. The direction does really take away a lot of the power in this spy entry.

“The Bourne Supremacy” is a worthy sequel to its predecessor and carries on the new look of cinematic spies. The film just lacks calculated action sequences to keep audiences glued to the screen.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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