Bourne Supremacy, The
A welcome throwback to blood-soaked espionage thrillers, The Bourne Supremacy is a gritty sequel that hasn't lost its popular appeal thanks to star Matt Damon, who reprises his role as Jason Bourne, a resilient killing machine who craves the life of an ordinary man.
It's been two years since we left Jason Bourne (Damon) on Grecian shores, lovingly reunited with the free-spirited Marie (Franka Potente). For the time being, they've settled in Goa, India, but their idyllic beachfront life is anything but perfect. Bourne is having unsettling flashbacks of his days as a trained assassin for the Treadstone project and is convinced the covert CIA outfit still wants him dead, even though he threatened to annihilate anyone who came after him. So when a mysterious assassin shows up in the sleepy, remote village to kill him, Bourne decides to track him down and take him out. His revenge mission eventually takes him to Berlin to the only surviving Treadstone assassin. But when Bourne discovers Treadstone was dismantled two years ago, his revenge mission turns into a quest to find out who exactly is after him. Meanwhile, the CIA lifts Bourne's fingerprints from a crime scene in which two undercover agents on assignment in Berlin were killed. But although CIA task force chief Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) wasn't the one who sent an assassin after Bourne in India, the agency still wants to reel Bourne in. Landy recruits senior operative Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) and former Treadstone liaison Nicky (Julia Stiles) to help capture the rogue assassin and, with the inadvertent help or Bourne, learns there is a rat within the ranks.
In Jason Bourne, Damon has landed the role of a lifetime. Bourne is different than most protagonists because there is nothing heroic about him; he's a trained assassin. But his amnesia and inability to remember much of his past has opened up the door for change, and his willingness to change for the better redeems his character. Damon's against type casting reflects this duality. ''I had to overcome that I look young,'' Damon said of the casting. ''I don't look like a stone cold killer.'' The actor's off-screen good-guy persona is exactly what works since Bourne wasn't born a killer; he was just ''made'' into one. Just as Bourne evolves emotionally in this sequel, so do the returning characters. Potente's Marie, for example, has gone from being a vagabond student with no emotional ties to a confident and nurturing woman. Another character who has significantly evolved since The Bourne Identity is Stiles' Nicky. Almost relegated to Treadstone secretary in the original film, Nicky, though she has little screen time, is more fleshed out and we learn that there is much more to her character, whose role it is to recognize the psychological effects of Treadstone on its operatives. She would certainly make a great central character to a third installment. Veteran Cox returns as Abbott and plays the perfect old-school bureaucratic curmudgeon, while Allen makes her first appearance as the tough-talking chief.
The Bourne Supremacy gets a new director in the likes of Paul Greengrass, and his gritty realism proves to be the perfect visual style for this sequel. Greengrass, who directed Bloody Sunday, a re-creation of the bloody 1972 massacre in Northern Ireland, uses many of the same visual techniques that gave that 2002 drama such a sense of propinquity. A high-speed car chase through a Moscow tunnel is the film's high point and one of the most viscerally exciting screen chases since last year's The Italian Job. According to the production notes, stunt coordinator Dan Bradley used a special stunt-driving camera platform to film the actors ''driving'' from numerous angles. The result is an ultra-violent and realistic action sequence where the viewer can practically feel the impact of a car barreling into a cement median at 100 miles per hour. Scribe Tony Gilroy, meanwhile, flawlessly adapts Robert Ludlum's 1980s Cold War settings into a paranoid modern-day international-conspiracy pic. But Greengrass honors Ludlum's Cold War dogma by shooting the film on location in both Berlin and Moscow. The director's sets, from the warm and reddish landscape of India's southwestern coast to the steely gray landscape of Moscow's projects, coincide with Bourne's evolution, from a loving partner to isolated man.
Director Paul Greengrass's grimy thriller is just the ticket for moviegoers craving an intelligent throwback to thrillers like North By Northwest and The French Connection.