Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Bourne Supremacy

The Bourne Supremacy
Directed by Paul Greengrass
2004, rated PG-13
3 stars

The days are hot, the nights are short, and summer is almost over. This is a time for rest, leisure, relaxation, wild car chases, and massive explosions. The last two apply of course to summer movie flicks, the fabulous entertainment we all enjoy, because we enjoy not having to think too much once in a while. Summer is absolutely filled with action films that mainly consist of beautiful women, hunky men, fast cars, little or no plot, and explosions galore; without these movies, it just wouldn’t be summer. This season is no exception, and neither is the recent addition to this genre, The Bourne Supremacy, based on the book by Robert Ludlum.

Matt Damon returns as the exceptionally talented, amnesiac CIA hit man Jason Bourne. Bourne cannot remember anything from his former career at the CIA, except for what he remembered in the last movie, The Bourne Identity—which isn’t much. Hiding away in India with his girlfriend, he suddenly gets thrown back into the fray when framed for a murder 3,000 miles away in Berlin, Germany. Bourne jumps into action, whipping out his mad assassin skills to battle and evade those who would dare attempt to eliminate him. When not in full action, Damon makes for a brilliantly deadpan, emotionless Bourne—perfect for this part considering the protagonist’s past and unusual training. What Damon lacks in this movie is a female counterpart. Unfortunately, his girlfriend and costar of the previous film only appears for the first fifteen minutes of this one. Throughout the rest of the film, Damon struggles from scene to scene, location to location, still managing admirably, and able to give a fine show nonetheless. While Joan Allen gives a satisfactory performance as Pamela Landy, the head of the CIA operation that’s trying to track Bourne down, she’s too old and not an interesting enough character to match Bourne. Julia Stiles also gives a good performance as Nicky, the young girl who passed the orders to the assassin agents. She has a slightly larger role than before, but it’s still too miniscule to balance Damon’s overwhelming lead. Perhaps this lack of a love interest is what makes this film slightly less satisfying than its predecessor.

What the movie lacks in love, however, it makes up for in action—awesome stunts, colorful explosions, and absolutely amazing car chases, all helped by excellent cinematography and perfectly chosen music. Most of the movie is filmed with a handheld camera, with quick, shaky movements that echo the entire nature of the film. This technique helps to add frantic action to some scenes, while providing a more personal, intimate feel to others. During the fast-paced, fantastic car chases, the cinematography reflects the frenzied action, with a rapid switching between close-ups of the people, cars, or parts of cars, to shots that encompass the whole of the action—whether that be careening off the side of an underground tunnel, or plunging off the side of a bridge. The well-chosen music also adds to the timbre of each scene, and keeps the film’s tempo and flow. While the score varies according to scene, the music is all very rhythmic, with heavy drum beats, and steady melodies. This helps the movie by pacing it in some places, and adding to the rush of the action in others.

While perhaps not quite as outstanding overall as the first film, The Bourne Supremacy still has its merits. It is an entirely enjoyable summer film, and has some of the best car chases ever. Damon makes for a splendid Bourne, with or without a female sidekick. The ending even sets things up for another sequel, as Bourne is still without his entire memory: he now remembers his very last mission, and his very first mission, but there are still plenty in between for endless future summer entertainment. So, for enjoying the thrills of summer, this movie fits the genre. Time to whip out those mad assassin skills!

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