The Bourne Ultimatum marks the first entry in the series where I can say that the use of shaky cam actually bothered me. There was only one scene where I actually noticed it to a large degree, but it made that scene — something that had the chance to be an incredibly hand-to-hand fight sequence — into something that was just passable. It didn’t completely ruin the scene, but it was only okay. However, in the rest of the film, I didn’t have any trouble with this filming technique.
Once again, (and reportedly for the final time), our lead is Matt Damon. He plays Jason Bourne, a former black ops operative who functioned more or less like the best assassin that the company he worked for had. He lost his memory, and has been struggling for two previous films to recover it. Let’s make that three, because there are even more flashbacks this time around.
The plot has Jason Bourne searching for the person who hired the killer from the last movie. It’s a simple setup, but it gets more complicated. It gets more complicated when we learn about all of the double-crossing that occurs within the agency. Returning to this film is Joan Allen. She gets to butt heads against David Strathairn this time around. But this time, butting heads will go further than just a war of words.
After Supremacy, the filmmakers decided that actually having a secondary character on Jason Bourne’s side would be a good idea. We missed having another character’s perspective last time around, instead only getting to see the world from Bourne’s perspective. We get that this time in the form of returning character Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles). She was present in the last two movies, but didn’t have a very large role either time. Now, she gets to take center stage for part of the film, actually participating in a couple of important scenes.
However, this seems to happen just so that there can be another character. Nicky seems to join up with Bourne just about as quickly as Marie did in Identity, proving only that Jason Bourne must be the most charming person on the face of the planet, or else writing in character motivations isn’t the strong suit of the screenwriters of this series.
They also seem to have difficulty giving the audience reason to care. The first film made you care somewhat, yes, but the next two films did not even make an attempt. I guessed that in Supremacy this happened because we didn’t have a supporting character to directly contrast with Jason Bourne. We get that here, but we still don’t care. I guess now that Jason Bourne is just not an interesting character. It’s hard to relate with someone like him. He’s smart and seemingly indestructible. He crashes cars often and walks away without much injury.
Also with improving from Supremacy is the work put into the action scenes. Ultimatum contains more action scenes, and for the most part, they are better. Put them on par with the quality and quantity in Identity. They still don’t get to top the car chase sequence from Identity, but there is definitely an attempt — except this time they use motorcycles. There is one stunt in particular that left me awestruck, in which a motorcycle seems to climb a 7-foot wall. Some things, you just need to see. I believe this is one of them.
The story in Ultimatum starts to lose focus in its later stages. It has to quickly wrap-up all of the unresolved plot threads that have been built up as the series has progressed, which means that the self-contained story of Ultimatum has to finish long before that. The final scene from Supremacy also plays a part in this one, and likely not in the way you expect. It’s not until you get to this part of the film that the opening scene starts to make sense, which is at the very least one question that the film answers for you.
In the end, Ultimatum is worth watching, as are the rest of the films in the series. It still isn’t quite as good as the very first film is, but I think it’s an improvement over Supremacy. At least this time around, there was an attempt to give us a relatable secondary character. She joined Bourne too easily, but so did Marie in Identity, and that worked out just fine. The action scenes are really fun, and since the plot is more or less there just to set up set-pieces, we get our money’s worth there. Ultimatum wraps up the trilogy well, but, there’s still the potential for more of these films. Legacy is apparently in production, but will not star Matt Damon. That is the most disappointing part of this series.