BOURNE ULTIMATUM, THE (director: Paul Greengrass; screenwriters: Tony Gilroy/Scott Z. Burns/George Nolfi/based on a story by Mr. Gilroy and the novel by Robert Ludlum; cinematographer: Oliver Wood; editor: Christopher Rouse; music: John Powell; cast: Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Julia Stiles (Nicky Parsons), David Strathairn (Noah Vosen), Scott Glenn (Ezra Kramer), Paddy Considine (Simon Ross), Edgar Ramirez (Paz), Albert Finney (Dr. Albert Hirsch), Joan Allen (Pam Landy); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Frank Marshall/Patrick Crowley/Paul L. Sandberg; Universal Pictures; 2007)
“It’s a pure-hearted action-packed frenetic chase film from reel to reel.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Paul Greengrass (“United 93″/”Bloody Sunday”/”The Bourne Supremacy”) reunites with star Matt Damon, after doing the second political thriller Bourne film in the series, and helms this last leg of the trilogy. Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi turn in the dazzling adrenaline-filled action-packed script. It’s based on Robert Ludlum’s tale of an amnesiac ex-spy for the CIA, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), who is now being ruthlessly hunted down by his nefarious ex-bosses from the CIA and NSA. It’s Damon’s signature role and he runs with it, keeping it James Bond-like smart with a convincing dash of physicality and brain power. It’s a pure-hearted action-packed frenetic chase film from reel to reel, one that does justice to the action blockbuster genre and throws out some poison dart messages about the corruption of power, blind patriotism and the dangers of our institutions becoming just as bad as our enemies’.
The non-stop chase film opens in Moscow, as super-spy Jason Bourne, tightening his jaw and eluding capture, also manages to crack a few skulls as he tries desperately to understand what’s going down and why he’s being targeted. Bourne has lost his soul after losing his memory, and is on a mission to at least gain back his sanity by learning his real identity and what led him down this path. To find answers, Bourne will go from Moscow to Paris to London to Madrid to Turin to Tangiers and to New York.
In London, Bourne finds that the Guardian reporter, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine), has written some articles about him relating to highly classified info regarding the Treadstone program, where the operative was trained. The CIA is interested in the reporter’s source, as is Bourne. When Bourne meets with Ross, the CIA tails them in some greatly orchestrated cat-and-mouse scenes; this puts Ross in danger from both the CIA director, Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn), and the deputy CIA director, Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), the head of the top-secret CIA umbrella program with the code name of Blackbriar–he’s the man doing the chasing. The main action for this set-piece takes place at the crowded Waterloo Station, where the reporter is taken down by a CIA assassin and Bourne miraculously flees London after a thrilling chase scene through the streets and ends up in Turin–the location of Ross’s source. Once there, Bourne is befriended by his former colleague, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who chooses to disobey Vosen’s commands and ally herself with Bourne, which makes her a CIA target and she also must go on the run alone. Bourne makes his way by ferry to Tangiers, where he kills with his bare hands the CIA agent who killed Ross’s source and learns more about why he’s being hunted. To resolve things, once and for all, he returns to NYC where it all began for him.
In NYC, Joan Allen has the role of the competent and good guy CIA investigator, Pam Landy, who now realizes that Bourne is the good guy, even if he has a string of inexcusable murders and is no innocent. In the end, she gives Bourne all the help he needs to find the answers he’s looking for from her bad guy bosses and helps expose the baddies to public scrutiny. Albert Finney has a fine turn as Dr. Albert Hirsch, the reptilian founder of the pernicious Blackbriar program, the one now run by the despotic Vosen.
The film never flubs in its set-piece action scenes; each one keeps up a high level of excitement and a speed-freak pace, while the story keeps our attention by breaking down institutional barriers to give us some of its insights into the inner workings of our spook agency when it goes awry and warns us of the competition generated among the intelligence community for power. Not bad for an escapist summer movie, that gives a little more in story than a Bond film without losing its credibility to be entertainment.
REVIEWED ON 8/3/2007 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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