Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

As much as I enjoyed this, it's also a tiny bit of a letdown because this movie is, basically, exactly the same movie as The Bourne Supremacy - which I loved.

Doug Liman's The Bourne Identity was a pretty simple and straightforward action-adventure with an emphasis on realistic stunts, but it was also kind of pedestrian. Liman's inability to make a movie without someone stepping in to clean up his messes meant that the sequel went to a new director. Paul Greengrass brought a vastly more interesting sense of kineticism to Supremacy, and a greater degree of moral probing and clarity; Jason Bourne wasn't just a former spy on a sexy tour of Europe, he was an anguished loner on a journey of discovery to find out who he really was and what sins he may have committed. Greengrass made Supremacy an action movie with a soul.

And now...ditto. You could pretty much use the same screenplay for both movies, just swapping out Brian Cox for Albert Finney and ending on the same note of 'exposing-the-bad-guys' and drifting into the ether. So that as much as I enjoyed the bonecrunching fight scenes and the spectacular car chases, I had the nagging thought in my head that I had seen it all before, storywise. Also I felt that the emotional impact was stronger in Supremacy, ending on that scene between Bourne and his young Russian victim, simple but direct.

So let me reverse myself one more time and add that this is clearly the best action movie of the year, thus far, and that I'm in a certain amount of awe of Greengrass's ability to stage his complex action sequences and shoot and edit them for maximum impact. People complain about Greengrass's hyperkinetic shooting style and rapid-fire editing, comparing him to Michael Bay, but the difference between these two is so big it's not even funny. Where Bay is bludgeoning and crude, Greengrass is precise and dazzling. I can tell where characters are in relation to each other in a Greengrass movie, and every tiny shot contains information; his movies take place in a finely detailed, realistic world, which I can't say about Transformers or any other Bay movie.

So: I can't wait to see what Greengrass does with Imperial Life in the Emerald City, where he'll be working with material that probably excites him more than doing another studio spy movie.

No comments: