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The Bourne Supremacy
2004 - PG-13 - 108 Mins.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Producer: Frank Marshall
Written By: Tony Gilroy, Robert Ludlum
Starring: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site:
Matt Damon reprises his role as Jason Bourne, a rogue, ex-CIA assassin in ‘The Bourne Supremacy.’ This time, director’s duties are handed to relative newcomer Paul Greengrass who manages to take a thoroughly enjoyable story and shake it to pieces with overuse of blurry handheld shots.

Based on a novel by Robert Ludlum, ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ continues the story of former CIA assassin, Jason Bourne, who is anxious to leave his life as a government-sanctioned black ops assassin behind. At the opening of the film, he and his girlfriend, Marie (Franka Potente), are in hiding in India when a Russian agent tracks him down. When his girlfriend is killed, Bourne goes into vengeful action to wreak havoc on the organization he assumes is still pursuing him – the CIA.

While the first film was quite a treat to see Matt Damon in kung fu choreographed martial arts mode, director Greengrass clearly wanted to avoid that kind of stylized choreography which is pretty pervasive in action movies, instead preferring the urgency and realism of the handheld camera. Like in ‘Black Hawk Down’ and the recent remake of 'Battlestar Galactica', the theory is that handheld shots give a scene a sense of on the ground reality as in a documentary. You could be part of a news camera crew following Jason Bourne around. But ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ takes the technique to overkill with blurry shots that supposedly show frenzy and tension but only left me with a headache as I tried to focus on different elements in the shot.

That said, the other components of the movie work well like the slickest James Bond flick of Connery vintage. We have the exotic locales and we have lots of biting wordplay and subterfuge. And we have a great cast. Joan Allen co-stars as CIA Deputy Chief Pamela Landry who is on the hunt for Bourne. She’s under the impression that Bourne is responsible for the death of two of her agents so she leads a team that includes Brian Cox and Julia Stiles. Allen, who portrays icy characters well (she’s also the nasty mom in this summer’s ‘The Notebook’), bristles with hollow-cheeked efficiency. As she tightens a dragnet around Bourne, she begins to uncover a layer of conspiracy within the CIA. In light of recent criticisms of the agency, the plot seems entirely probable.

It’s Cox and Allen who almost steal the show. As CIA chief, Ward Abbott, Cox has made a career of playing morally dubious so his scenes going head to head with Landry sparkle with hate and deception. The two veteran actors battle for turf and territory in practically every scene.

This Bourne franchise has created a more physical star out of Matt Damon. There are plenty of shots of him jogging and enduring great pain. He’s not conventionally handsome and he seems content to play the amnesiac Bourne with a general look of worried unhappiness. This movie is not as showy as the first 'Bourne Identity' but the Bourne series is shaping up to be the best update of the superspy genre that had fallen into formula cliche (Bond today) or satire (Austin Powers).

There are some logic errors in the movie which could have been the result of editing – how did he recognize Landry? Why did he feel guilty about some of his victims? – but overall ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ is a high voltage thriller that visually vibrates with entertainment. Bottle of aspirin for the post-screening headache is not included.
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

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