Thursday, August 23, 2007

Movie Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

Looking for an appropriate analogy for the Bourne Ultimatum, Ronseal comes to mind. Hitting on a winning formula and applying it has endured three times now, weathering the rule of diminishing returns which often leaves sequels reduced to poor, faded imitations. Matt Damon, having subtlety built a franchise for himself, with an ever present brow of sweat, is front and centre for a movie which does exactly as it says on the can – a one man show of hand held camera, fast paced brutal energy. All too importantly, while you expect the limb crunching, domestic appliance using tactics to feel tired at this stage, they maintain their effect. Bourne is the impervious, bordering on super human action hero we know of old, yet there is never a need to cast a blind eye at his incredulous escapes or abilities, the mans enforced solitude and focus, and presumably intense programming referred to, let us know he is a man built to survive. There are no neurotic side-kicks or family members to be held hostage in the final scenes and potential love interests are put out of harms way – this man learns lessons - there may be formula at play here but not so as to insult our intelligence.

The story is present, neither wafer-thin or over convoluted. Its intense execution though grips you from the off. The espionage at play, tracking and monitor watching, particularly an early chase to Waterloo Station, are as tense as any of the outright action sequences. You never feel though you are watching a set piece, there is never a dramatic pause or shrill in the music to warn you to change your underwear for the oncoming bus of vehicular and human carnage. In fact music disappears entirely for a segment of the mandatory Bourne car smash up, only the sounds of grinding gears and scraping metal assaulting your senses. Breaks for exposition only add to the sense of urgency as motives are revealed. Any suggestion of lost lives or time for emotion that dare to show their faces are given little breathing space. The effect overall is that at least twice during watching I had to remind myself to start breathing again.

The Bourne Ultimatum is a great movie experience, inhabiting some intangible ground between the thriller and the blockbuster where heroes are the most real of people.

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