Saturday, July 24, 2004
The Bourne Supremacy (2004, USA, Paul Greengrass) AKA Baby We Were Bourne to Run
Finally! A 2004 release that has a little faith in its audience. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is back, and he’s just as angry, confused and determined as he was in the series original, based on Robert Ludlum’s novel The Bourne Identity. In this edition, Bourne begins life anew incognito with his girlfriend (Frankie Potente) in India, but his troubles have not been left completely behind. He still suffers from nightmares and headaches, and is frustrated by his inability to get to the nut of their cause. Adding to his woes is the sudden appearance of a suspicious character who is roaming around Goa with Bourne’s picture, trying to track him down. When he finds Bourne, you just know all hell’s gonna break loose.
Often-confusing and sometimes bordering on the incomprehensible—to which I must add, "Be patient!"--The Bourne Supremacy is, nonetheless, first-rate thriller material, and I'm not one easily won over by this particular genre. Sure, the shaky cam shit gets outta hand at times, and often strikes me as being the consequence of a director not willing to put in the necessary work to properly choreograph an action sequence. With the camera shimmering and shaking so much, you don't (or CAN'T) notice that there's no THERE there. Yet, at the same time, the hand held camerawork in The Bourne Supremacy is also used appropriately and to great effect to evoke just the right emotional notes in the film’s potent penultimate scene. I've not seen many thrillers that pack such a wallop at film's end. So, when all’s told, a bit of a saw-off stylistically-wise in the deployment of the jittery camera movement.
Now, back to the meat of the thing, the director Paul Greengrass (who’d a thunk the fella who made the saccharine Theory of Flight could also produce this and 2002’s fine Bloody Sunday?) keeps the story moving apace, while simultaneously managing to include sufficient and plausible character development and motivation to allow us to connect meaningfully to Bourne’s quest not only for revenge, but also (and more importantly) understanding of the nefarious world he’s caught up in. The film does all the little things right. Shooting entirely on location, particularly in New York, Berlin and Moscow, adds immeasurably to the film’s authenticity, as does the dearth of CGI in the generally stellar set pieces, especially and particularly the finale, a manic race through the streets of Moscow. Speaking of which, if I ever start a taxi company, I'm gonna load up on those there Russian cabs. Those suckers are TOUGH, man. It is also endearing to see Bourne get hurt, and to show the consequences of these injuries. For instance, when he bashes up his leg, he doesn’t limp for the next scene or two, then shrug it off like a super spy, but rather, hobbles around like a gimp for the rest of the movie. If you prick him, he will bleed.
I also really liked the casting, cuz it took care of any credibility issues right offa the top by hiring smart people to play the important roles. You just have to believe Cox and Allen could do this for a living if pressed into service. And Damon fits this role perfectly. As with Ripley, Damon is spot on when playing people who don't seem to quite fit in and are tying desperately to find where they belong. He carries with him a certain blankness, anger, intelligence and confusion that works so very well here.
The Bourne Supremacy is a thriller with a brain, a grown up film for grown ups. Well done, all.