Saturday 18 August 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) - ickleReview (cinema)

The third part of the Jason Bourne franchise. In part one, Matt Damon ran around, surprised at all his special agent skills, trying to figure out who he was. In part two, Matt Damon ran around, exploiting all his special agent skills, seeking revenge for the murder of his girlfriend in a CIA assassination attempt aimed at him. In part three, Matt Damon runs around, still exercising his special agent skills, and eventually finds out who he is and how he got there. We go through Moscow (diplomatically pronounced both Moss-kow by the Americans and Moss-co by the British), Turin, London, Madrid, Algiers, and New York.

The security correspondent of the Guardian newspaper, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine), writes a special report about who is Jason Bourne, having met an important insider source in Turin. As he arrives back at Heathrow - neither losing his luggage in baggage reclaim (he was travelling light) or encountering anti-aviation protestors - he speaks to his editor on his mobile and mentions the word "Blackbriar", which triggers a keyword alert in the CIA substation in London (based, by the looks of it, not all that far away from Blackfriars, so I wonder how often they got hyper when monitoring people's calls). That's the new name for Treadstone, the top secret black op that created agents like our man Bourne. The CIA track poor Ross down in an attempt to intercept his source. In the confusion, they think it's Bourne, who is trying to protect Ross and find out his source for himself so he can finally use a passport with his proper name on it. Jean Charles de Menezes replay ensues.

Cue enthralling chase to Madrid (scene of another recent terrorist attack), where he meets up again with Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), a fellow agent who had been on the baddies' side in the earlier films; Tangiers (appropriate location for rooftop chases and leaps through windows across narrow alleyways); and, finally, New York, where squabbling CIA barnets, Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) and Noah Vosen (David Strathairn - last seen in Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)), are tracking Bourne's movements in a high-tech operations room where they apparently have control over every CCTV camera in the world, know everyone's phone number, and can even tell what you had for dinner a week last Tuesday (maybe not the last one). When agents are sent to storm an apartment in Madrid to where they have tracked Bourne, they hold portable video cameras next to their guns so that NYHQ and we can see what's happening - a nice touch given all the amateur footage that 24-hour news channels now screen whenever something big happens (I even heard the police were appealing for photos taken on mobile phones to help the investigation into that Hell's Angel shooting on the M40 last Sunday).

Fans of the previous two films will know what to expect, and director Paul Greengrass once more delivers. I'm not sure what the ultimatum of the title is, unless it signals the final (ultimate) part of the series, but room is left at the end for another installment, perhaps a prequel to find out more about how and why Bourne was made.

Nugget: continues to set the standard for breakneck action with a bit of brains, even if the final reveal of the MacGuffin that Bourne has been chasing falls a little flat. It's pleasing to find a trilogy that doesn't woos out.

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