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Universal Pictures

Official Site

Director: Paul Greengrass

Producers: Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall, Paul Sandberg

Written by: Tony Gilroy; from novel by Robert Ludlum

Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brain Cox, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles


The Bourne Identity, released in 2002, was a tense thinking man’s thriller that went on to become one of the top DVD rentals of the year. Luckily for Hollywood executives, Robert Ludlum wrote a trilogy of books featuring the character Jason Bourne and now the second of those books, The Bourne Supremacy, has been brought to the big screen.

The Bourne Supremacy is very similar to the first movie but just a little more involving at every level. In many sequels Hollywood feels the need to add too much more for no reason other than it has the budget to do so, but here, benefiting from a preplanned trilogy, everything takes place out of strict necessity for the story. Befitting a movie about clandestine activities the plot is hard to make out, but as much as can be determined Jason Bourne (Damon) is framed by an evil, possibly ?Russian?, conspiracy and must elude both CIA operatives led by old “Treadstone” honcho Ward Abbott (Cox) and newcomer Pamela Landy (Allen) and Russian assassins, while trying to clear his name and regain his memory. That is the most one can be certain about, but it’s enjoyable to have a movie that doesn’t spell everything out for the audience.

What sets The Bourne Supremacy apart is its intelligence. Too often Hollywood believes action thrillers must features as many loud explosions and gratuitous special effects as the budget allows (nothing wrong with that in moderation), but director Paul Greengrass keeps it low-key at all times. The tension is always high without the use of any of these Hollywood clichés. Greengrass uses a handheld camera during many of the chase scenes to give a you-are-there feeling and he uses cuts during slow scenes to add energy or he just shows off the beautiful European landscape. He cleverly has the more brutal consequences of the film’s many fist/gun/car fights take place off camera, affording it a PG-13 rating.

Returning actors Matt Damon and Brian Cox pick up right where they left off. Matt Damon is the perfect pick for Jason Bourne; he’s a bland everyman who just happens to have super spy powers. He undergoes an immediate and palpable transformation when he decides to re-enter the world of the covert. Brian Cox is playing he same role he has portrayed in many other movies (Bourne Identity, Chain Reaction, X-2)—the shady government official—and just as in those other movies, he does an excellent job here. New to the series, Joan Allen holds her own quite nicely as a by-the-book CIA operative. She makes the movie because she is an effective antagonist, always using her head to track down Bourne and to ferret out the truth.

The Bourne Supremacy keeps pouring on the tension and just when you think it can’t get any more taut it defies expectations and does. The movie is two hours long and there is never a slow moment. Anything the camera shows will have impact later in the movie and the sense of imminent danger is ever-present. Best of all, the climactic car chase is superior to the one in the first movie! It must have given more than a few stuntmen gray hairs. One can only hope they keep this up for The Bourne Ultimatum.

—Woodrow Bogucki

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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