The Bourne Supremacy Review
By Shawn McKenzie 07/23/2004
In 2002, I made The Bourne Identity my favorite movie of the year. It had amazing action, a story that kept you on the edge of your seat, and it was a bright spot for star Matt Damon and director Doug Liman. Damon proved that he could be an action star, and Liman proved that he could direct something other than a comedy. Its follow-up, The Bourne Supremacy, continues with a new director, which may have hurt it a little.
Two years have gone by since the events of the first movie. Amnesiac covert assassin Jason Bourne (Damon) now lives in Gao, India with Marie (Franka Potente), the woman who helped him back then. While some of his memory has come back, he’s still disturbed by nightmares about his past, which he tries to write down in order to help him remember. Other than the nightmares, things are going fine, until he spots another contract killer (it takes one to know one) and he tries to get him and Marie away from the guy before he succeeds. Kirill (Karl Urban), the assassin, has been hired to kill Bourne in order to justify a frame job elsewhere. Bourne was the target, but Kirill accidentally kills Marie. This of course makes him furious, and he wants to find out who sent the killer and why. Meanwhile, veteran CIA deputy director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) is investigating the murders of two U.S. agents who were in Berlin trying to acquire missing records about Yuri Gretkov (Karl Rodin), an oil tycoon mobster who may have killed a Russian politician and stole $20 million in CIA funds. They get a partial fingerprint that just happens to be that of Bourne (remember…he was in India, so the framers had to take him out to make the frame job credible.) Pamela’s credentials only lead her to the now defunct Treadstone Project, so she goes to see the head of the project, Ward Abbott (Brian Cox), to get more clearance, which gets her Bourne’s name. At this point, Bourne has found out about Pamela’s search for him, and thinks at first that she’s the one who sent the assassin. Pamela brings in Nicolette (Julia Stiles), barely seen in the first movie, to help track down Bourne, since she and Abbott know more about him than anyone. Bourne once again finds himself avoiding capture, all while trying to find out who framed him for the murders and dealing with some additional returning memories that aren’t so pleasant.
This chapter was directed by Paul Greengrass (original director Liman bowed out but took an executive producer role), and it was based off Robert Ludlum’s second Jason Bourne novel of the same name from 1986. From what I heard of people who read the novel, this one follows the book even less than the original movie had followed the first book. I didn’t care at that time about an accurate adaptation, and I don’t care this time either. I just wanted a good action movie again.
What I got was almost as good as the first movie, but there were a couple things missing that made the first one so good. First, the fight scenes weren’t as good, or at least they weren’t filmed as well. One of the things that stood out in the original movie was how well-choreographed the fight scenes were, and the way Liman filmed them allowed you to see them in their full glory, despite their lightening-fast speed. The speed is still there, but Greengrass filmed them so close up and shaky that you couldn’t clearly see them. Second, the female characters, except for the excellent Allen, are underused. As you can tell from the plot description, Potente doesn’t last long in the film, and Stiles is only used slightly more than she had been used in the first film. I can understand the shortness of Potente’s existence, but I was hoping to see more of Stiles.
It wasn’t all bad though. There was another impressive car chase in this one, though not as good as the one in the first movie. The story was very good, leading to a revelation found out by Bourne in the end that sets up the story for The Bourne Ultimatum. The acting is also top notch again all around, though only Damon, Allen, and Cox get any decent screen time.
I of course want to see the third movie get made, but I wish that Liman would come back to the director’s chair. I heard that he had constant on-set shouting matches with Damon on the first film, which led him not to helm The Bourne Supremacy. This seems to be a common problem for the director, because I hear that he is having the same shouting matches with Angelina Jolie, the star of his next movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith. He has probably had those same problems with other actors, because I’ve noticed that he doesn’t ever work with the same ones. Either way, if you were a fan of the first movie (which was the top rented DVD of 2003), then check out this one.
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