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"The Bourne Supremacy"

Directed by Paul Greengrass.
Written by Tony Gilroy.  Based on the novel by Robert Ludlum.
Starring Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Karl Urban, Joan Allen and Brian Cox.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  7/26/04


Matt Damon is back again in the sequel to "The Bourne Identity", one of the better action efforts of the last two years.  What's interesting to me about "The Bourne Supremacy", based on the Jason Bourne novels by Robert Ludlum, is that while there seems to be a lot going on, it reminded me of one thing:


See, this time around, Jason Bourne (Damon) is in hiding with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) in Goa, India, seemingly far, far away from any chance that his old CIA "buddies", led by Abbott (Brian Cox), will find him and try to take him out.  But naturally, he's wrong, so when a Russian hit man (Karl Urban, from the "LOTR" films) shows up one day trying to off the happy couple, well, shit hits the fan and Bourne has to go after the people that he thinks are trying to kill him--a group of CIA operatives led by Abbott and Landy (Joan Allen) who were sent by the good people in Washington to take Bourne down.  Plot twists ensue, blah blah blah.

Although I'm sure there was a great story to be had in the novel, the movie version of "The Bourne Supremacy" (running time:  100 minutes) sticks to movie sequel formula and gives us a fight scene here, a shootout there, and wraps things up nicely with a big blowout car chase.  In between, there seems to be a taut, suspenseful thriller built into the film but I'll be damned if this film doesn't come off a lot like a two-hour season premiere of "Alias", the spy show on ABC that specializes in roughly the same formula as a big-budget spy/action thriller.  The only real difference for me is, when I thought about it, is that while Sydney Bristow on "Alias" at least remembers to bring a disguise when trying to hide from the bad guys, it seems like Jason Bourne is always thinking

"If I'm a wanted criminal or I'm trying to be in hiding with my girlfriend, it's probably best that I walk around in plain view where I'm the only white guy for miles!"

See, it seems like a white guy hangin' out in India (PLENTY of fuckin' white folks there) is just going to get found eventually.  Bourne globetrots from place to place with his basket of passports but doesn't seem to mind strolling with the locals from time to time, which nearly gets him killed about four times in this film.  Bourne goes to see an old acquaintance; who this person is, why this person is important, and why this person eventually tries to kill Bourne must be in the book somewhere, because it was not explained in "The Bourne Supremacy" at all.

See, normally plot-related things don't get me too riled up if there is no plot in the first place.  But here, there is so much of an attempt to establish a good story that the LEAST the filmmakers could do is to tie up the loose ends.  And, there are some long gaps that go completely action-less; watching Bourne ride on a train, or walk from place to place, doesn't give me much to work with and I would have preferred a pace similar to "The Bourne Identity", which seemed to have a shootout or an explosion every five minutes or so plus a great story to keep me hooked.  Because Bourne is on the run the whole time, the lack of a co-star (as you will see when you watch this sequel) leaves Damon with nothing to do a lot of the time he isn't beating somebody up.

The location shoot is the best part about "The Bourne Supremacy", and the car chase near the conclusion is solid as well.  Joan Allen is a great addition to this cast; Allen is always great, but because she hasn't worked in much lately (I last remember her in "The Contender", with Jeff Bridges, in 2000), it's kind of refreshing seeing her again.  Urban looks mean enough to be legit, and a small bit by Julia Stiles is well-placed, too.  Some good laughs are sprinkled in the script and I did enjoy the soundtrack for this flick, too.

Really, despite some of my negativity, I thought "The Bourne Supremacy" was a nice breeze on a hot summer day; it didn't make the day amazing, but it made everything quite palatable.  After the car chase was over, I was thinking, "Hey, this was a good time.  Looks like another $9.50 in the..."

And then, the ending came.  Man, I thought this ending blew.  I can't say it wasn't logical, and it does wrap up the plot fairly cleanly.  But, after that big blowout, you give me sap?  You give me morality?  You give me soul searching?  Well, if that's the case, I give you

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09