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The Bourne Ultimatum - Review

The Bourne Ultimatum

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

IT’S extremely rare to find a film franchise that maintains such a consistently high quality. Some of the best directors – from Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas to Robert Zemeckis and the Wachowski brothers – have tried and come up short.

The Jason Bourne series bucks that trend by just getting stronger. The Bourne Ultimatum, the allegedly final film in the saga, is a stunning piece of work that enthralls, dazzles and ultimately leaves you breathless.

Picking up almost immediately where Supremacy left off, Ultimatum finds Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne pitting his wits against shadowy CIA operative Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), head of the Blackbriar programme responsible for Treadstone, and the usual bunch of assassins.

His quest takes him from London to Madrid and New York via Tangier as he pieces together the clues offered by a British journalist (Paddy Considine) who threatens to uncover the conspiracy behind it all.

Returning director Paul Greengrass hits the ground running and barely lets up throughout. Opening with a stunning chase sequence in and around Waterloo, the film then sprints around the globe as part of its character’s quest to find answers.

Yet amazingly, it manages to pack in as much intrigue and character building as it does breathtaking action and suspense – no mean feat for a film conducted at breakneck pace.

Bourne’s origins are revealed and explained but not without consequence and there’s also hints of a past relationship between the spy and his former handler (played by Julia Stiles).

His adversaries, meanwhile, get to debate the consequences of keeping a nation safe while attempting to stay one step ahead of each other for their own personal safety.

It’s a tribute to the quality of the writing, the acting and the direction, however, that the film never feels patriotic or preachy, existing in a moral grey zone from which there’s no easy escape.

Bourne, for his part, is a conflicted soul – a ruthless, efficient killing machine desperate to find some atonement. Yet Damon expertly brings a humane vulnerability to this darkest of souls, constantly battling a conscience that’s every bit as dangerous as his adversaries.

Strathairn, on the other hand, excels as his latest nemesis, a scheming “man in a suit” who seldom has to legislate for the personal consequences of the actions he asks others to take. And perched somewhere in between is Joan Allen’s Pamela Landy who provides something of a moral compass.

If the intrigue surrounding them is first-rate, then the action is utterly stunning as Greengrass drops in some virtuoso moments, including a four-way chase along the rooftops and streets of Tangier and another thumping car chase in New York. They feel bruisingly real, placing you at the heart of the action so you can virtually experience every bump and scrape.

Come the final revelations and Bourne’s moment of truth, Greengrass ensures a satisfying outcome that wraps things up neatly – as well as hinting at the possibility of another movie. For now, though, The Bourne Ultimatum is mainstream cinema at its most exhilarating – a tense, exciting action thriller that never misses its mark.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 115mins