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The Bourne Supremacy – reviewage

In a recent interview Matt Damon said that there have only ever been three sequels that are better than the original: The New Testament, Huck Finn and The Godfather: Part II. When I heard that, I wrote it of as hollywood hype for The Bourne Supremacy . What I should have done is paid more attention to the fact that ‘Matt Damon’ and ‘typical hollywood’ are two terms that don’t belong in the same sentence.

The Bourne Supremacy picks up some time after the events of the first film. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and his girlfriend Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) are hiding in India. Borne, still unable to recall his former identity, is plagued by ‘snapshot’ nightmares that reveal little useful information about his former life. Soon, their peaceful retreat is shattered when evidence planted at the scene of a failed CIA operation in Berlin implicates Bourne.

The Bourne Supremacy sets a starling pace. Your mind will race as you attempt to assemble the macramé plot. Suspicion falls on everyone at some point or another. Good guys are really bad guys, bad guys really good guys and other bad guys are really worse guys. Through it all, Bourne marches resolute and glassy eyed from one situation to the next as he tries to piece together why he has been dragged back into this world of espionage.

Aesthetically, The Bourne Supremacy is magnificent. The film features fluid, handheld camera movement made popular by television shows like N.Y.P.D Blue. Whereas this annoyed me on the small screen, combined with MTV-style editing it creates a roller-coaster effect that will have those with weak stomachs reaching for the Cyclizine.

The original movie set a very high bar when it came to two distinct areas: fight scenes and car chase sequences. Fans of the The Bourne Identity will not be disappointed by the treatment that the equivalent sequences are given in The Bourne Supremacy. The fluid camera work is taken even further during the fight scenes and car chases creating a sensation that will have your adrenal glands working overtime.

I’m sure some will find the techniques used during these scenes somewhat distracting, but for me it only served to aid in the drama of the scene. This is not a passive experience, Paul Greengrass’ direction deliberately has you struggling for a look at what is going on and you are drawn forward in your seat in the hunt for more: Has he got a knife? I think he’s got a knife! Where’s Bourne? What’s that in his hand!? LOOK OUT!

Damon’s Bourne is morose and driven. While this is no Conan: The Barbarian, there very few scenes where dialogue allows access to Bourne’s personality. For the most part, it’s the other characters that explain the arc and reveal clues to both Bourne and the viewer. Brian Cox and Joan Allen play against each other as hardened CIA agents Ward Abbott and Pamela Landy. Doing her best to climb her way to the top, Landy’s agenda and personality clash with that of Abbott’s. When they are forced to work together on the Bourne case, it becomes clear that their personal agendas leave little room for the goals of the other.

As one would expect in a movie where so much effort has been put into its style, the soundtrack is equally impressive. Fans of his work for The Italian Job and The Bourne Identity will appreciate John Powell’s hi-tech, industrial, rhythmic compositions which accompany the more intense scenes, as well as the more orchestral work used through out the film.

Debate will no doubt rage as to whether this is a good film or not. Many of the visual techniques used are pushed to an extreme and as a result peoples reactions will probably follow suit. Personally, I loved the look and pace of the film. I enjoyed revisiting characters from the first movie. And, while Matt Damon lists only three decent sequels, I can see a trend where sequels are being used to explore characters and ultimately tell a much larger story than can be told in just one movie. The Bourne Supremacy falls into that slowly growing list of sequels that surpass and add to the original.

A thinking man’s action film.

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3 Comments

    A vegetable dish with 5 feet of sugar on top!

  • erm..
    No, I ordered the ham on whole-wheat and a lemon lime and bitters.


  • that review was Elroy-riffic!