Extreme means: the supremacy of BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007)
In a very general sense, the patterns that form the path of a narrative trilogy tend to bend at home when it comes to an end. In many modern trilogies, this idea – the concept of “home” – could be a physical place or something more spiritual or psychological. Often, the impetus at the start of a trilogy is for outside forces to invade the safety of our heroes’ “ homes’ ‘in whatever form, but the imprint left by those “ homes” on characters often come to define how their stories ultimately play out. We see it in the powerful “ journey ” trilogies of The Lord of the Rings or the original Star wars – in the first the return to the shrine of the Shire, the second being the regrouping of the survivors for whom a new home is with their companions. But we also see it in less conventional narrative trilogies – Toy story 3 bringing us to a new home but spiritually similar to Andy’s; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ‘s ride at sunset; hell, even the Austin powers the trilogy brought everyone together as a family at the end. There’s something cathartic and satisfying about the pleasantly circular shape of a Homecoming Trilogy Capper – it suggests that the journey is the destination, but the home you left behind is the answer. It is a curve that is difficult to resist and to which the Bourne Trilogy embraced in its last installment.
Over time, it seems that many have landed on Supremacy being the Bourne The crown jewel of the trilogy (or at least it was a trilogy before Greengrass and Damon Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘d the damn thing with the incredibly misguided Jason bourne) and although I disagree, it is largely indisputable that the impact of Supremacy on action cinema would be felt for years. Between Supremacy and Ultimatum, Greengrass would arguably wear the “ shaky-cam ” style of action leadership that has since been maligned. It’s easy to forget how revealing this was back then – while it wasn’t a technique used by all copying filmmakers in the years to come, it was intense, exciting, absorbing. Greengrass covers his action sequences extensively and his use of shaky-cam is full of intention, although in retrospect they don’t always come together as effectively as they might otherwise. At the time, it was a separate, practically author’s choice that aligned the Bourne series with being a “ mature ” action movie – that felt real, in an era of heightened cinematic similarity and apathy, especially in the genre of American action cinema that was floundering at the time.
There are undoubtedly better, more accomplished action films of the time – arguments could be made for a range of films, from Kill Bill series at Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon at The black Knight – but all carry the caveats of mixed genres or a certain directorial flavor that prevents them from being considered a Bourne movies did (the closest comparison I would consider would be 2006 Casino Royale in terms of both quality and influence, and ultimately it comes down to a personal opinion at that point as to which title is best). Without the Bourne series, it’s hard to imagine heavy and shaky digital action cinema taking off in the years that followed. Ultimatum, nor the Eurocentric action thrillers of the Taken series. It was also a reminder that blockbusters could be created from visual voices and singular directors on huge budgets – which the filmmakers – including, especially Christopher Nolan – would prove and improve further in later years. Mostly, Bourne argued that the more adult cam -oriented these films, the more financially successful they could be. If this was applicable to anything outside of Bourne is debatable, but it was nonetheless a current ideology.
Beyond the simple technique, Bourne, and especially Ultimatum, uniquely captured that sentiment in Western society that matched the emerging techno-paranoia and ambivalence towards the institutions that would define the years to come. Bourne is arguably the most successful action thriller to draw from the post-9/11 government surveillance crises and their implications – and the ideological hints of a film in which a government black-op killing machine gains autonomy. and turns against the infamous institutions that created it are palpable in their paralleling of the insecurity fueled by the NSA in the idea of governments and their ability to work in the best interests of all. Rather than feed it, Bourne works as a sort of island warning but resonating at work both within Western governments for the sake of powers beyond ordinary citizens, but also as a suggestion of what the results of such interference may have on a national population growing to be suspicious of their government working for them. Watching The Bourne Ultimatum ten years later, especially in his final climactic puzzle-assembling moments, is a particularly exciting but unsettling experience in the context of modern America, where distrust of institutions and their pursuit of obscure tactics, which they justified or not, at least partially fueled animosity towards the established US government.
The Bourne Ultimatum is the strongest film of the trilogy. While Supremacy contains the iconic Bourne moment (‘Rest Pam, you look tired’), Ultimatum is simpler, simpler and more efficient, but also more technically successful. Significantly, there’s a much less murky (read: somewhat boring) intergovernmental conflict over programs with suspicious names, fewer incidental supporting characters to wade through, the more emphasis on the emotional weight of Bourne’s story then. that its mysteries are finally unearthed. . It’s a well-oiled machine, with each sequence feeding off the next in a chase flick that makes great use of the character’s established storyline to deliver moments of stand-up-and-cheer heroism and heavy-handedness. development pieces for returning roles. .
Much of that gravity is due to Matt Damon’s work as Jason Bourne. As the thematic (and real) anchor of the entire series, Matt Damon’s performance is so iconic at this point that it’s easy to forget how unlikely a Damon action hero was before (and even after). ) this movies. Damon excels at playing an ordinary man (or at subverting one, in The dead, his best performance), and Jason Bourne is a character whose vibe just another face in the crowd is precisely what makes him so intriguing. Damon plays it on the other side of the monotonous, and it’s a testament to his abilities as a performer that it never feels like anything less than a deliberate choice, leaving behind the robotic physicality of his movements and the trauma. of his past. speaks for itself.
Beyond Damon, the film makes great use of character actors in supporting roles. If Damon is the series ‘quiet heart, Joan Allen as Pam Landy is the soul – the only friendly, conscientious, and principled character in the government system – while Julia Stiles’ returning appearance as Nicky provides an interesting and capable sheet for Bourne. Likewise, the appearances of David Strathairn and Albert Finney here follow in the great Bourne tradition of big character actors playing villainous white government men in costume (following the steps of Chris Cooper and Brian Cox), especially in the case of Strathairn, who finds wonderful new nuances of brevity as Noah Vosen, a male who orders a white omelet with the taste of a man who diversifies and breaks the routine for the first time in many years.
It’s by no means a perfect movie, however, and much of it hasn’t aged particularly gracefully. The shaky-cam element, while defining the era, is nonetheless still dizzying and entertaining, if not as intensely as it was in Supremacy. Greengrass seems more aware of this effect in this episode, however, and uses it to his advantage in moments of more directly conventional clarity – most notably in a thrilling escape sequence coordinated by Bourne and featuring a distraught reporter (Paddy Considine) at the middle of a busy London underground station. The other major element marking the time of the Bourne series – its endless self-seriousness – is also somewhat exhausting, especially for a premise that’s admittedly built around a character’s amnesia, a plot device that will never be at least a little awkward. Indeed, The Bourne Ultimatum, while increasing its quota of thrilling action-excellence moments, is still almost entirely without a laugh. His humor – what’s with him – is almost always of a bitter, ironic vein, and typically derives from Damon’s pleasantly realistic line readings in high-stakes moments. Besides a splash of bright color as Bourne roams Tangier, the dark and drab grays and blues of European and American places serve to reinforce that seriousness in a way that sometimes dampens the pleasure of the watch. And sadly, it’s hard to forget the fact that his aforementioned angle of evil government agencies is now less new and shocking than it was when it was released, something the film can’t really avoid but weighs on nonetheless. repeated viewings.
It should also be noted that these snags serve to fuel The Bourne Ultimatum as a fascinating and singular historical document of modern action history, and the emotional and visceral impact of some of the film’s most iconic moments still resonates. Of MacGyver-sque scene in which Bourne uses both a book and a tea towel to dispense with a potential assassin, to the demolition-derby car chase sequence through downtown New York who is very much aware that it’s essentially impossible to drive fast in the city without causing serious damage, nor the mind-blowing poetic circularity of the ending, which mirrors the start of the series in Identity in several ways, then builds on several others. Alongside the obvious return to the image of the ‘dark figure floating in water’ that opened the series, there’s also the delivery of the ‘Look at us, watch what they do to you. give ” – a row given to Bourne in Identity by another assassin and delivered to the assassin direct descendant of Bourne (Edgar Ramirez) by Bourne himself in Ultimatum – a direct example of the thematic impact of the return to basics and the passing of the torch in the closing of a trilogy. The film’s ending plays wonderfully with the expectation and the idea that because Bourne’s story is over, so must he. As we watch him come back to life and swim in the shadows, those iconic strings of Moby’s “Extreme Ways” reverberate around him, Ultimatum perhaps provides his biggest surprise – when Bourne got home he found something like a happy ending.