THE BOURNE SUPREMACY
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Produced by Doug Liman and Frank Marshall
Screenplay by Tony Gilroy
Based on the Novel by Robert Ludlum
Despite being made two years after the first Jason Bourne movie: “The Bourne Identity” THE BOURNE SUPREMACY could have been shot back to back with the earlier film as it picks up the story of Jason Bourne without a stumble or a hitch. It doesn’t even take time to recap what happened in that earlier film but honestly, when we live in a world filled with Blockbusters, Netflixes, Targets, Wal-Marts, downloadable movie services like Vongo, PPV and such, is there any reason for a recap in any sequel?
So with hardly so much as a title card to tell us what movie we’re watching, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY jumps right into the story: two years after the events of the previous movie, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) are living in India with Jason still trying to piece together his fragmented memory. He keeps a sort of diary where he records the flashes of faces, voices and places that come to him in his dreams. More and more memories of Berlin are crowding his mind and Jason begins to think that there’s a crucial part of his life there that maybe he should investigate.
And just like in the previous movie, here comes a pesky assassin to take a crack at killing the infamous Jason Bourne. However the wrong person is killed and that sets Jason off on a quest of revenge this time around. In the last movie he told Director Conklin of The Treadstone Project (Chris Cooper) that if they didn’t leave him alone he’d bring the war right back to them. In this movie he keeps his word. Not that the CIA is going to take what he’s handing out without a fight. In fact, a team is put together to find Jason Bourne and destroy him once and for all. Deputy Director Pamela Landry (Joan Allen) is heading up the team and she’s got a personal stake in this as she’s convinced that Jason killed two of her field agents who were in the middle of a $3 million dollar deal to buy documents relating to the theft of $20 million dollars of CIA funds seven years ago. The evidence is plain: Jason’s fingerprints were found at the scene and there’s a paper trail leading back to Conklin that makes Landry think that Jason and Conklin were in it together to steal the money. Landry enlists Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) who created Treadstone and Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) who was Jason’s Paris handler on the team to find Jason. But Jason Bourne isn’t hard to find as he’s cutting down everything the CIA sends at him to find out who is still trying to have him killed.
Now there’s a lot in this one that’s similar to “The Bourne Identity” in that the main thrust of the plot is that Jason Bourne is driven by his overwhelming need to discover who he actually is, what The Treadstone Project actually was all about and why the CIA is still trying to kill him after two years. What isn’t similar is that there’s a subplot in this one as there’s a third faction that is pitting Jason Bourne against The CIA while they sit back and twiddle their thumbs, waiting for both sides to annihilate each other. Also, in the first one, Jason had Marie to talk to and explain what he was doing and so, explain to us. He’s on his own for much of the movie but we still get an explanation of what he’s doing and why since we have Brian Cox and Julia Stiles reprising their roles from the first movie and their characters are all to familiar with Jason Bourne and what he’s capable of.
Matt Damon continues to play Jason Bourne with the same remarkable physicality he demonstrated in “The Bourne Identity.” Jason Bourne has more in common with Jack Bauer than James Bond in that Jason Bourne relies far more on his own brain and brawn to get out of the dangerous situations he finds himself in rather than fancy gadgets or far-out weaponry. A good old fashioned Brooklyn style asskicking or a well placed shot to the head from a Glock is good enough for Mr. Bourne. Since Jason Bourne doesn’t have a girlfriend to worry about in this one, Matt Damon is all business and he handles his business well.
Joan Allen is very good as Jason Bourne’s new nemesis but she’s no Conklin clone. She actually puts together inconsistencies the events and in the behavior of Ward Abbott, who keeps insisting Jason Bourne should be killed and comes to her own conclusions as to what is actually going on. Brian Cox manages to keep surprising us even though his character basically has one line he does variations on every five minutes: “Kill Jason Bourne!” and Julia Stiles gets to have more than a few lines and get in on some of the action outside of the office in this one.
Speaking of action…the hand-to-hand combats in “The Bourne Identity” were really something to gasp about as they were done so marvelously well. Not so in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY. I really have a dislike of the hand-held camera technique being used in fight scenes. I know it’s supposed to make you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action but when I watch a movie I want to see the action. If I want to be right in the middle of the action I’ll attend an Aryan Brotherhood rally with a white woman on my arm. I like fight scenes where I can see who is hitting whom and how. The fight scenes in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY are a messy blur of arms and legs. But I will say that the climatic car chase is exhilarating, even for somebody like me who’s seen car chases up the wazoo. You can plainly see that it’s really Matt Damon getting slammed around when other cars crash into his at 80 or 90 miles an hour and that it’s not being done with CGI. Much as I was disappointed by the fight scenes in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY I have to give props for the excellent stunt work.
So should you see THE BOURNE SUPREMACY? Sure. While not having the same surprising thrills as “The Bourne Identity” it is a worthy sequel that carries the story along and provides enough twists and turns that you can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next. Questions about the true identity of Jason Bourne are answered even as new questions are raised, presumably to be answered in “The Bourne Ultimatum” The spy movie needed a good shot of adrenaline to revitalize the genre and the Jason Bourne movies provide that shot. Spring for the rental fee and enjoy. Or even better, buy both of ‘em. I did. I think you’ll want to see them both again.