Gwnewch y pethau bychain

The Bourne Ultimatum

Last night after work, I drove down to Perimeter Point to meet up with Alice for dinner and a movie. We had a leisurely meal at Atlanta Bread Company and discussed the day and a variety of other topics; one of the things I love about hanging out with Alice is that she’s always got something interesting to talk about, and often about subjects that I’m not already immersed in, which is a good stretch for my brain.

Our movie for the evening was the just-released The Bourne Ultimatum starring Matt Damon. I admit that I had no idea what to expect from this film, having seen neither of its prequels nor read any of the novels which they are (loosely, I’m told) based upon. But it was the film that Alice suggested she was very interested in seeing, and I had no objection to it, even if it was a film I might not have ever seen if someone had not asked me to go with them.

I’m glad she did. Ultimatum isn’t a deep film, by any means, but its a roller coaster ride that starts on a high and never lets up. The plot is tight and gripping, and paced in such a way that even when something preposterous happens, your brain doesn’t quite have time to object before the action moves on. The violence is hyperkinetic and neatly manages to avoid unnecessary gore while at the same time never being cartoonish. I heard the director refer to some of the fight scenes as a “violent ballet” in a radio interview last week, and that’s a fitting description.

Jason Bourne as a character is interesting to watch. Matt Damon manages to be likable enough for us to keep us on his side while still being about as emotionally withdrawn as its possible to be without completely ceasing to be human. David Strathairn is fantastic as the CIA Black-Ops director who wants to stop him before he learns to much, and Albert Finney makes a surprise appearance at the end. Surprising in an action film, the various characters never quite become caricatures.

I’m not sure this was the Platonic Ideal of an action movie. But it was awfully darn close, and i’m looking forward to getting the two previous films on DVD and watching them now.

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15 Comments

  1. I believe you’re referring to The Bourne Ultimatum

  2. It was a rather fabulous action film. They’re just smart enough to be engaging, and the choreography is fabulous.

    • In the radio interview I heard with the director, the played a bit of the Morocco fight scene…just the audio. It was really interesting to see what a big role the sound plays in making a fight convincing.

  3. We own The Bourne Identity if you guys want to come over and watch it in the theater.

    I admit, I didn’t like The Bourne Supremacy very much so I have been hesitant about seeing this new one. But, I think we will have to. I really liked “Identity”, and I am not a fan of most general action films.

    • I’m not either, but that’s because most of them insult my intelligence. This one never did. (I admit, I’m a big James Bond fan, so action films in the spy-genre are an easier sell to me, but even so, there has to be some sort of wit or intelligence or I’ll get bored just watching things blow up for no apparent reason.)

  4. I’ve not seen Ultimatum yet, but I like both Identity and Supremacy. What gets me about them is:
    1) The characters, for the most part, act fairly intelligently. Bourne, especially, tends to think his way out of problems — thinking with violence, to be sure, but generally speaking, intelligent, directed violence.

    2) The violence feels, y’know, violent. The car chases, in particular, feel like things hitting each other, not like a video game. It feels palpable — you wince during them. You feel like there are consequences to the violence. Similarly, the fight scenes, when people get hit, you feel like they’re getting hit — like it’s REAL somehow. Like you say, it’s not cartoony.

    3) Jason Bourne is fascinating as a character.

  5. I haven’t seen this one yet, but I did see the first two. The first is great, the second doesn’t really stand up to the first, but wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. And the reviews that I’ve seen for this one suggest that it’s as good or better than the first.

    So I’m looking forward to it. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. I really enjoyed all 3. I think the last two seem shot by people with Parkinson’s though which is a shame. Some camera shake is good… too much & you start to wonder if you’re going to have a seizure.

    I love the way Bourne thinks up clever ways to get out of things. Speaking all the languages and kicking ass all the while. Damon is not unhot either which never hurts….

    I love that spy shit myself.

    • Heh. I saw Damon on The Daily Show last week, and he mentioned seeing an online review of the film which included the plea “Will someone get this guy a fuckin’ steadycam?”

      • Ah- this is something I’ve been wondering about- I really dislike the recent convention where action scenes (and especially fight scenes) are shot in such fast cuts that you can’t actually tell what’s happening a lot of the time. The last Batman movie did this- you’d just get fast changes from fists hitting body parts.

        Is that something this does? Or can you actually follow the action? I do really like action movies, so this is something I’ve actually been interested in seeing. (JT is a tough sell for movies though- I’ll have to find out if my sister has seen it yet *g*.)

        I’ve read all three of the books (though I could have stopped after the first one- the other two aren’t especially different).

        • The action is very easy to follow. The comment really comes from the fact that the director prefers the slightly jerky look you get from a hand-held camera, rather than a more traditional mounted one. It’s an artistic choice, and to be honest, about 10 minutes into the film I stopped really noticing it.

          hates movie theatres; she likes movies just fine, she just doesn’t like the “going to the movies” experience. That’s why Alice and I have been making a regular habit of seeing movies together, which works out well for everyone.

          • Anonymous

            Cool- that won’t bother me.

            JT doesn’t hate theatres, but the movie theatre experience is a slight negative for both of us- such that it has to be a movie that we want to see on the big screen before we’ll go. Or it has to be hot. Movies get considerably more attractive in hot weather. “It’s two hours long and air-conditioned,” has frequently been our verdict on summer movies *g*.

            But our tastes are different enough that we aren’t always interested in seeing the same things.

      • The new Battlestar Galactica seems to do a lot of that. Normally it would annoy me, but somehow it works to give it a documentary kind of feel.

  7. As a Bond fan: did you see Casino Royale? I’m not at all a fan of those film in general, but I heard CR was quite different than the usual Bond film and worth checking out.

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