After I watched the first film in the Bourne franchise, I wrote the series off. I only just saw the second one last week. And I got talked into seeing this one because my roommates both wanted to see it. I figured it would make a good guys night, so I went, too. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this one the most out of the series.
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And this is a series. It is absolutely vital that you see these movies in order. You especially need to have seen the second one before you see this one. Why? Because this one picks up moments after the climax of the last one.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is injured and on the run. The Moscow police are after him because of the car chase that ended the last film. When cornered, Bourne explains that he has to find out who is after him and who he is once and for all.
The action skips ahead six weeks. Bourne has once again slipped under the radar. The latest flashbacks in his memory are connected to his early training at the CIA. But his motive is the death of his girlfriend. He may have caught the person responsible, but he wants to know the why that person was sent after him in the first place.
Meanwhile, British reporter Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) is writing a series on Jason Bourne. He has a secret source in the CIA. And he's attracted the attention of Bourne as well as Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), the head of a secret program at the CIA. Who is Simon's source? Will it lead Bourne to the secrets of his past? Or will Noah have everyone is site killed first?
The plots in the first two movies have seemed overly complex and mysterious. I had to work really hard to understand what was going on. Not so here. The story was straight forward and I had no trouble following the action. And the way they weaved in stuff from the first two films was amazing.
Now just because the plot was straight forward doesn't mean it was boring. The plot is really just an excuse for a bunch of action scenes. But those scenes are intense. I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of the movie. Because the movie shows us the action from several different points of view, we know just how much danger the characters are really in. There was one especially intense scene in Tangier that had my stomach in knots. In addition to the cat and mouse moments, we get fights, chases, and examples of Bourne using his wits to get out of all these situations. These scenes aren't especially believable, but that's not why you go see a film like this.
One complaint over the course of the series has been the lack of character development. Unfortunately, that holds true here. Most everyone in the cast is new, and beyond the very basics, we really don't get to know much about them. Quite possibly, that makes their pursuit of Bourne that much more intense.
The exception to that are the returning characters. Over the course of the franchise, we've come to know Bourne from quick little moments scattered throughout. That right there is enough to invest us in the outcome of this movie. Also returning are Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons and Joan Allen as CIA agent Pamela Landy. I found I cared about them just as much as Bourne.
As with the other movies, the acting is top notch. It's the acting that grounds the film and makes you forget how far fetched the action really is. And it overcomes the shallow characters to make us believe these are real people even if we don't know them that well.
My only real complaint is another one that I've had over the course of the series. Most of the film is shot using hand held camera, making the picture shaky. As a result, at times it is hard to follow the action, although it's certainly easier here then in the last one. I just don't get this cinematic approach and probably never will.
This is the first film in the franchise to make me interested in reading the books, so I'd say it was a success. Only time will tell if it really is the final chapter in the Bourne films. But if it is, it's a satisfying conclusion of anyone who has followed the franchise no matter how reluctantly.
The Bourne Movies:
The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Ultimatum (You are here)
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