30 August 2007

The Bourne Ulitmatum Review

Ah, the season of summer blockbusters. It's not every year that have a film come along in this period that is both incredibly intelligent and ridiculously exciting. Normally they're either one (Transformers, Spider-man 3), the other (Waitress, Knocked Up) or neither (Bratz...).

But the third outing in the Bourne trilogy is looking to - at least temporarily - change all that. It's both clever and pulse pounding, and is easily on of the best films of the year so far, let alone the best Bourne film or the best of the summer!

We all know the story by now - slighted US Government agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) seeks identity. Enjoys CQC and outsmarting opponents, as well as a predilection for running. But this time, they've taken it to the next level, the screenwriters - of which there are four - piling on the intrigue and tension. The film begins before the end of The Bourne Supremacy, with Bourne wounded and desperately trying to evade the Moscow police. Jump forward six weeks later, and he's just read an article about himself in the Guardian - and something called 'Blackbriar', which is apparently linked to the Treadstone project from the previous film. Intent on tracking down the journalist who wrote it, he once again gets himself caught up in the insipid dealings of the CIA.

It's perhaps a little confusing - and viewing of the first two films is recommended, preferably as close to your viewing of the third as possible. But the story is brilliantly conceived, and it ties off all of the loose ends beautifully and logically, but without ever losing a frenetic pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. There's a particularly memorable piece of scripting towards the end - suffice to say, it involves Bourne outwitting everyone who's after him, and it's wonderfully downplayed by both director and screenwriters.

Damon is still superb as Bourne; as he was in both the first and second - so elsewhere there's fantastic (and occasionally suprisingly) good turns from Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Paddy Considine and Joan Allen. Albert Finney crops up too, and his performance is suitable creepy and evil for his role. In fact, the cast is nearly flawless - even the slightly less verbal contribution from Edgar Ramirez.

But, once again, the true star of the show is Greengrass' direction. From the conspiracies in the CIA's HQ, to the incredible action sequences; his documentary-style hand-held cameras lend a sense of presence to the whole thing. It's almost like you're there, with Bourne, listening in on the conversations he's having, following him over the rooftops of Tangier as he evades police. Of particular note is a superb car-chase, which both mirrors the one in Supremacy, whilst adding a further veneer of realism to the whole thing. There's also a fantastically visceral roof-top chase that culminates with a brutal fist fight that is nail-bitingly tense.

However, as with any movie, it's not without it's problems - although the ones it does have are more or less instantly dismissable. First, if shaky-cameras aren't your thing - or even tend to make you feel nauseous- then the lack of visual focus in some of the scenes may annoy you somewhat. Also, the somewhat open ending may add to frustration. But these are minor, and are easily over-looked in light of the over-whelming number of fantastic qualities.

So, once again Bourne has proved that action films can have brains too. It's a fittingly brilliantly end to a brilliant trilogy.

Ross' Rating: 9/10

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