US Release Date: 07-23-2004
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
- Matt Damon, as
- Jason Bourne
- Franka Potente, as
- Brian Cox, as
- Ward Abbott
- Julia Stiles, as
- Karl Urban, as
- Gabriel Mann, as
- Danny Zorn
- Joan Allen, as
- Pamela Landy
- Marton Csokas as
Julia Stiles and Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy.
The Bourne Supremacy is a cut above your average fantasy world espionage thriller. Its attention to detail and realism put it about as far from the world of James Bond as it is possible to get while remaining in the same genre. And perhaps most surprising of all in a Hollywood movie, here is a film where a sequel actually builds off of its predecessor, rewarding those who saw the original, while still providing enough detail so that newcomers won't be lost.
When the story opens, Jason Bourne (Damon) is living in India with Marie (Potente), the woman he met and fell in love with in The Bourne Identity. Two years have passed since the events of the first film and Jason is no closer to recovering his memories, apart from the few flashes of insight that come to him in his dreams.
His past hasn't forgotten about him however, and his peaceful life is shattered when he is framed for the murder of a CIA agent in Berlin. After an assassin is sent to kill him, Bourne is back on his way to Europe to figure out who's setting him up and trying to get rid of him.
After this initial setup, the rest of the film is nonstop action. But this is not sanitized Hollywood action, although it's not particularly bloody either. It just contains a level of realism rarely seen in this type of movie.
At one point Jason goes to visit a CIA operative to get information and a fight ensues. But this is not a perfectly choreographed fight scene with each of them doing amazing stunts and inhuman moves. It's two men scrabbling, punching, kicking, and finally rolling around the floor. The jerky hand held camera work -- keeping the action just slightly out of focus -- adds to the sense of realism.
Later, when Bourne is trying to escape from the Police by train, he actually stops to check the schedule, nervously scanning the listings. Further on, when driving through Moscow, he has to check a map. At one point, he jumps off a bridge and hurts his leg. In later scenes, he's still limping! When's the last time you saw a movie hero suffer the effects of an injury later on in a film? Small things, I know, but each of them builds on the other, and together they create a unique cinematic world.
I wasn't a fan of The Bourne Identity, finding it too generic, and I had low expectations for its sequel. Perhaps it was the change in directors that marks the dramatic change from Identity to Supremacy. Paul Greengrass helmed this one, while Doug Liman directed the first. Whatever the reason, The Bourne series has found its voice and taken a definite turn for the better.
Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy.
I was a fan of the first Bourne movie and, like Scott, find this one to be even better. The cast is excellent. The plot is good, and the director does a hell of a great job.
Car chases are such a staple of action flicks that they've become mundane. Not so here. This movie has the most exciting, tense car chase I have ever watched on the big screen! There are no unbelievable stunts or ridiculous coincidences. It is just one man chasing another. Simple, yet done so seriously and efficiently that I got caught up in it more than any other I have ever seen.
Damon is great here. He down plays the entire movie, and it works to great effect. He doesn't have any James Bond quips. He doesn't have any over the top stunts. He is a trained assassin who is all too human.
The only supporting actor I really liked was Stiles. She has one very good scene where Bourne has a gun to her temple. The one and only qualm I have with this movie is that right after this scene, her character disappears from the movie entirely. It works for the plot, but I wish we saw more of her. I hope that if a third Bourne movie is made, she is in it.
X-Men and Spiderman proved that the secret to success for a great superhero movie is to treat it seriously. The same can be said of the Bourne movies and the spy genre.
Joan Allen and Brian Cox in The Bourne Supremacy.
Damon is fairly good as a blue collar Bond but his performance is helped by the fact that he has very little dialogue. Outside of a Vin Diesel picture in fact this must be one of the fewest lines delivered by a movie's main character.
As for the realistic hand held camera work during the action scenes that Scott was enamored with. I didn't like it. I want to be able to actually see what is going on. Ditto for the car chase scene that Eric loved. Obviously Paul Greengrass never met an edit or cut he didn't like. Give me a break already. Compared to the classic car chase in The French Connection this one sucks. In that movie there are sustained shots of Gene Hackman's car chasing the elevated train through the crowded city streets. Here it is nothing but a blur of fast moving images that resembles a car chase.
As for the movie being realistic. I partially agree. Bourne does come across like a real guy and his struggles and frustrations are apparent. However, there was one scene early in the movie that I actually laughed out loud at. When Bourne and his girlfriend (who was driving and was just shot) crash into the river and start sinking he tries to rescue her not by bringing her body to the surface. Oh no. Our hero tries to perform mouth to mouth while under water! Ridiculous.
OK so maybe I'm being a bit harsh in my criticism but in all honesty this movie lacks in originality. Slight variations on the same characters we've seen over and over again in this type of movie. The bad guys are all the same. And the outcome was never in doubt, up to and including the Bond like semi-humorous moment at the end.
Photos © Copyright Universal Pictures (2004)