Monday, August 06, 2007

The Bourne Supremacy

The verdict: Gritty, action-packed and, unbelievably, it's believable! Bond should look to Bourne for ideas, because this is what a spy thriller should be. Roll on Bourne 3!

The rating: 7/10

I don't know, there just seemed to be no end of fuss and hype about 'Casino Royale'. Fair enough, Daniel Craig delivered a great performance as Bond, and the script and action were the best we've seen from the franchise in years, but when you watch 'The Bourne Supremacy', you begin to realise the failings of the british franchise. The problem with Bond, as Daniel Craig found out so viscerally, is all the bloody baggage that comes with it. Everybody has expectations of who Bond should be, what he should say, what fecking car he should drive.. For film-makers to take on the Bond franchise, they have the weight of expectation around this larger than life character that has an off-screen identity all his own.

Bourne has no such baggage. The first movie was a pacy actioner in which Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) awakes from a spell of amnesia to find that he's a highly trained super-spy, and his life is in danger. Instantly, the rules of the game become fluid. We aren't sure what to expect from Bourne because he doesn't know what's going to happen next himself.

The first movie, with its understated and dangerous hero, managed to relaunch the flagging career of Matt Damon, and luckily there were two more Robert Ludlum books to mine for sequel material. Now, of course we have the franchise, with the third movie 'The Bourne Ultimatum' due out this summer, and featuring Paddy Considine in a lead role, good work, fella!

In an inspired piece of delegation for this, the second episode, the reins were handed to United 93's helmsman Paul Greengrass, and this has injected a dose of grittier, more realistic action to proceedings. Bourne has no catchphrase, and there are no invisible cars on show in this spy thriller.

Right from the opening moments, 'The Bourne Supremacy' sets the ball rolling for a fraught, tense and realistic thriller that is definitely worth the admission price. Greengrass brings an immediacy to proceedings, and the action moves at a real-time pace, with Bourne literally living moment to moment, but always a pace or two ahead of his pursuers.

The supporting cast adds the required level of gravitas to proceedings, with Brian Cox delivering a pretty good turn as the veteran of operation Treadstone, Bourne's training mission. Julia Stiles also shows up, and has a nice few scenes with Damon, where she genuinely looks like she's fearing for her life. Bless.

Crucial to your enjoyment of a movie like this though, is whether you can believe what's unfolding in front of you. To his credit, Greengrass manages the pace of the action very well, and although at times events happen very quickly, the movie never gets ahead of itself. When gadgets are employed, they are sufficiently low-tech in appearance, portable, and conspicuously free of brand names to make them look like they might actually do what Bourne is trying to make them do. One criticism might be that even in the quieter moments of the movie, his characteristic jerky hand-held camera style seems a little at odds with what's happening on screen, but this is a small quibble compared to the positives.

Damon is convincing as the amnesiac hero, and has sufficiently increased in bulk to make you believe he's hold his own in a ruck with a russian mole, or whatever. As I said previously though, Greengrass has foregone the dry cool wit of the action hero, so Damon has no killer line to speak of, of the "Bourne, Jason Bourne" variety. (How about: "I'm Bourne. You're dead." Eh? ... No?... - Ed).. However, given the situations he's dealing with, you'd forgive him for not having the time to throw a witty remark over his shoulder..

I have to say, I was impressed with this one, and am now really looking forward to the third instalment, which will also be direted by Greengrass. In any case, this one is well worth a look on Dvd if you missed it in the flicks...

1 comment:

Ben said...

I agree on almost all your points. Not only the lack of expectations (and history, he doesn't have to be the next Sir Sean Connery), but the story is great and like you said - believable.

Ultimatum was great, too.

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