Move over James Bond!!! “The Bourne Identity”, a taut spy suspense-thriller, set the bar rather high for flicks of this genre. Unlike the aloof, jet-setting 007 or buddy Ben Affleck’s sputtering take on Jack Ryan, Matt Damon perfectly evokes Robert Ludlum’s “Jason Bourne”, a special forces C.I.A. operative/lethal killing machine.
As the movie opens, a bullet-riddled Damon, adrift in the Mediterranean is rescued by a small fishing vessel. From that rather ominous beginning, he is on the run, all the while trying to piece together who he is, even as he evades capture by countless pursuers.
Damon is aided and abetted in this perilous endeavor by the aptly cast, Franka Potente, playing a character reminiscent of her memorable Lola in “Run Lola Run”.
Many elaborate subterfuges come to light as our intrepid “hero” delves more deeply into his makeshift past, discovering far more than he ever wanted to know.
What sets this movie apart from others of its ilk, apart from the uniformly excellent performances and sublime cast which also includes Julia Stiles and Clive Owen, is the startling action sequences that will leave you gasping in disbelief. That coupled with the frenetic thrill-a-minute pacing, deft directorial touch of Doug Liman and, of course, terrific source material – the Ludlum novel from which the movie draws its name – makes for an edge of your seat cinematic experience – let the popcorn fly!!!
-The Ludlum Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum
-The Birth of The Bourne Identity
-The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum
-From Identity to Supremacy: Jason & Marie
-The Bourne Diagnosis
-Cloak and Dagger: Covert Ops
-Inside a Fight Sequence
-Access Granted: Co-Writer Tony Gilroy
-Alternate Opening and Ending
-Extended Farmhouse Scenes
-Music Video: Extreme Ways by Moby
-Feature Commentary with Director Doug Liman
The Bourne Supremacy directed by Paul Greengrass:
The winning trend continued on with the second installment of Bourne films. In part it is your typical secret agent/spy film in that it done in high gear, involves a lot of physical stuff and some brain usage required.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) finds himself on the run again as his lover has been murdered as has been a fellow agent. Being suspect numero uno he has to get to the bottom of who is actually responsible. While he is doing this he realizes that his former handlers are back on his trail.
A murder happens in Berlin and Bourne’s fingerprints are everywhere. Now an ambitious CIA operative becomes obsessed with catching the on the run former agent.
-On the Move with Jason Bourne
-Bourne to be Wild: Fight Training
-Blowing Things Up
-Matching Things: Casting
The Bourne Ultimatum directed by Paul Greengrass:
As I am writing this I am in the process of untightening my stomach, which was tense throughout the whole nearly two hour film. A combination of the handheld shaky camera work and the almost non-stop action lead to me being tense throughout the film. Oddly enough until the very end, which is kinda slow in comparison, the film is like an adrenaline rush. There are chills, thrills, car chases, rooftop chases, gunfights, and a fight in the tight quarters of a Moroccan flat that keep your heart pounding throughout.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon – The Bourne Supremacy, The Brothers Grimm) is still on the run from the CIA trying to find out who he is and what he has done. The lead agent on his case, Pamela Landy (Joan Allen – The Upside of Anger, The Notebook), has put the case on the backburner, as she no longer sees Bourne as a threat.
This all changes when he reads an article by British journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine – Hot Fuzz, In America) about Bourne that indicates he has a source that knows the story behind the fugitive. While Bourne is trying to get info from him Ross is killed by the CIA led by Noah Vosen (David Strathairn – Good Night, And Good Luck, L.A. Confidential), who has brought Landy back on the case to find Bourne. Landy still does not believe that Bourne is a threat, but follows her orders…in the beginning. Bourne’s quest for his real identity and his past leads him to Agent Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton – Proof, The Jacket), who is also assassinated, and his assistant and Bourne’s old foe, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles – Save the Last Dance, The Omen – 2006). Parsons sides with Bourne and finds herself on the run with him. Landy does not like Vosen’s methods and begins to suspect that there is more going on than she knows. Landy thinks, Vosen searches, Parsons runs, and Jason Bourne is still looking for the truth.
The third film seems more like a continuation of the first rather than the second one. However, you do not have to have seen either film to understand this one. It is highly political with its illustration of how paranoid and trigger happy the American government has become since 2001. They are now going to defend themselves from any perceived threat with much force and not ask any questions. We leave wondering if those we have put in the positions of fighting the bad guys have not now become the bad guys.
Matt Damon has demonstrated himself to be an accomplished actor in almost every role that he takes. I think that of Jason Bourne is his most beloved in which he really becomes the character. He is totally believable. Damon has had that quiet determination about him throughout the three films. It is too bad this is the last one. Joan Allen, Julia Stiles (good even though she does not say much) and David Strathairn all turn in good supporting efforts, but it truly is the Matt Damon show.
Like most action films there are some holes in the plot and some implausible things that happen (this Bourne seems to be able to escape from any type of tight situation), but these leaps are what make them thrilling. We don’t care that the one man fighting a whole nation is not plausible; we just sit there rooting for Bourne. This is fantasy folks and highly entertaining fantasy!
-Man on the Move: Jason Bourne
-Planning the Punches
-New York Chase
The Bourne Legacy directed by Tony Gilroy:
Going into the fourth Bourne film we were all wondering about accepting another actor as the lead in the film. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) was stepping into the film but not taking Matt Damon’s place. Renner would be the lead as Aaron Cross. Bottom line is there is no Bourne in The Bourne Legacy. Big shoes for Renner to fill as the previous films have featured high quality action. I was really pulling for Renner and writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity) with their taking on the massively successful franchise. Unfortunately it did not live up to what Damon and director of the second and third film Paul Greengrass had created.
Kudos to Gilroy for giving another life to the Bourne series as Damon has said he won’t make another one. It would have been a shame if we never got another Bourne film. What turns out to be a shame is that Gilroy brought nothing really new to the story. The film does keep you on the edge of your seat during several sections but definitely not throughout.
Outcome is in trouble. Not run by the CIA, Outcome is the brainchild of retired Admiral Turso (Stacy Keach – American History X, Machete) and retired Colonel Byer (Fight Club, The Incredible Hulk). It has been a useful organization though it’s funding is in danger due to the risk that the public might find out about it. Deciding to think about the future rather than the present, Turso and Byer decide to end the program. What this means is that they will have to terminate or kill off all their present agents.
Aaron Cross (Renner) is one of the nine agents that make up Outcome. All these agents have been injected with medication that increases their speed, stamina and mental abilities. He, of course, does not want to be terminated. Outsmarting his bosses, Cross makes it to the woods in Alaska and hides there.
Wanting to find out what is happening, Cross tracks down scientist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz – The Whistleblower, The Lovely Bones), the only remaining doctor of those who used to “maintain” him. Dr. Shearing has also been targeted for termination. Cross needs the good doctor to keep up his pseudo super abilities. Soon the two are on the run together all over the planet trying to stay alive.
It all began with some hope as the lead up is strong. Then it fell apart for me. Became boring and predictable with the usual cat-and-mouse chase stuff happening. It becomes less a spy thriller at this point and more a romance/commentary on drugs/desperation film. In other words, not what we were there for. Then there is the facts that it is too long and oftentimes muddled so hard to follow that really sink this ship that was already taking on a lot of water.
Bottom line is that the script lets down the two leads – Renner and Weisz. It feels like we’ve seen it all before with The Bourne Legacy. Gilroy brings nothing new to the table and it certainly isn’t as intelligent as the first three films. You can feel and see Renner and Weisz fighting for the film but even their talent cannot save it. Due to the lack of any backstory or reason to care about these two we end up not really caring if they live or die
-Enter Aaron Cross
-Crossing Continents: Legacy on Location
-Moving Targets: Aaron and Marta
-Man vs. Wolf
-Wolf Sequence Test
-Capturing Chaos: The Motorbike Chase
Jason Bourne directed by Paul Greengrass:
Fans of spy action thrillers breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced that both Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass would be returning to make another Bourne film. The series continued in 2012 without the two and Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity) behind the camera and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) in the lead role. Fans were disappointed. Big time. This despite the fact that Gilroy had been a co-writer on the previous Bourne films. Now the winning combination was back on board. Would that be enough to revive the limping series?
The answer is yes and no. A problem with the latest Bourne films is that it is a rehash of the previous three Greengrass/Damon films. If that does not bother you then you will enjoy this adrenaline infused spy romp. If you are the more discerning type of film fan then this might seem like lazy filmmaking to you but for the majority of fans they just want to be entertained and this film is still better than most in the genre.
Once again ex-spy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon – The Martian, Interstellar) is drawn out of hiding in order to find out more about who he really is. Once again he is on the run trying to jog his memory or uncover more about his past. Remember his memory has been wiped. This is made even more difficult by the fact that he has a high level assassin (Vincent Cassel – Black Swan, Ocean’s Thriteen) on his tail.
His ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles – The Bourne Supremacy, Silver Linings Playbook) brings Bourne some hacked Black Ops file from the CIA which contains some information about his past. Including information about his father and recruitment to the CIA. This puts Bourne back on the CIA radar as too dangerous to be out there on the loose.
At the same time the United States government is once again trying to revive a spy unit that operates in the shadows. CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln, Men in Black 3) is the man behind this. Also within the CIA trying to catch Bourne is Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl, Ex Machina). She wants to stop the former agent without killing him.
The action in the film is stellar. Greengrass certainly knows how to construct a realistic action scene. It is the dubious plot points that drag it down. You can forget this while watching Bourne whip down a street in Athens in which there is a riot occurring on a motorcycle. It will have your heart racing just as fast as the motorcycle. We then move on to London for some higher brow chase stuff. The apex of the action happens in the bright lights of Las Vegas where there occurs some great car chase scenes. Action is definitely the best part of the film. And as you can see, there is a wide variety of action styles. That is part of the problem with the film in that you can see they have consciously tried to check all the spy/action film boxes. It doesn’t occur organically, rather because they feel it has to.
As far as the acting goes the three leads – Damon, Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander – they all turn in solid performances with the right amount of believability. That is not an easy thing to do when the script has that been there done that feel to it. Vikander takes over that female role in Bourne films that we have seen before. The woman who thinks she knows best and can outsmart the ex-agent.
- Bringing Back Bourne (1080p, 8:15)
- Bourne to Fight (1080p): A three-part feature.
- Bare-Knuckle Boxing (7:55):
- Close Quarters (4:27)
- Underground Rumble (5:59)
- The Athens Escape (1080p, 5:37)
- Las Vegas Showdown (1080p): A two-part feature.
- Convention Chaos (6:36)
- Shutting Down the Strip (8:24)