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With: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez, Albert Finney, Joan Allen, Tom Gallop, Corey Johnson, Daniel Br�hl, Joey Ansah, Colin Stinton, Dan Fredenburgh, Lucy Liemann
Written by: Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns, George Nolfi, based on a novel by Robert Ludlum
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action
Running Time: 111
Date: 07/25/2007

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Bourne' Curtain

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Unusual for a trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum happily stays on the same high level of quality and intelligence as its predecessors (The Bourne Identity, from 2002, and The Bourne Supremacy, from 2004). Directed by Paul Greengrass and written by Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi, based on Robert Ludlum's novel, the film whizzes by in a fog of logical-sounding dialogue. Unlike most summer movies, it demands that the audience keep up, and only occasionally stoops to over-explaining when things get too obtuse.

In this third entry, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) decides to find out who turned him into a merciless killer, and, if possible, take down their entire operation. Bourne shows his hand when London reporter Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) begins writing articles about him and his late girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente -- who appears here in photos and brief flashbacks). Bourne tracks down the reporter to find his source, but the bad guys mow Ross down before Bourne can get anything. It turns out that government agent Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) has been given carte blanche, with a seemingly unlimited number of men, computers and other resources, to bring down Bourne. Vosen calls in Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) to take the rap in case anything bad happens, but she becomes a Hawksian figure, playing both ends against the middle. The fascinating Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) also returns, hinting at great depths of history and experience without actually mentioning any of it.

Director Greengrass, fresh from an Oscar nomination for United 93, sticks with his usual documentary-like approach, complete with endlessly shaking cameras. But the trick with Greengrass is that he actually stages his scenes before he shoots, so the shaky cam achieves its intended affect: simulated chaos without actual chaos. The best and most absorbing example is when Bourne tries to protect Ross from anonymous assassins in a crowded train station using only a cell phone. The action has a logical and spatial flow, whereas most action movies are just a jumble of tangled shots. The real key to this movie, as well as the other Bourne movies, is that the hero actually thinks. Damon has grown quite commanding after his decade in the spotlight, and with very little dialogue, we can see his brain whirring at supersonic speeds as his eyes flicker over their surroundings. He makes MacGyver look like a garage tinkerer.

Between Greengrass and Damon, The Bourne Ultimatum moves at an impressive, exciting pace, taking care to insert proper rest periods, and never stopping to wait for the lowest common denominator to catch up. It's the smart action film we all deserve.

DVD Details: Universal's DVD comes with various promos and trailers at startup. Extras include deleted scenes (12 minutes), a featurette: Man on the Move (24 minutes), plus several other short, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a commentary track by the Oscar-nominated director Paul Greengrass.

Blu-Ray Details: In 2010, Universal released the entire Bourne trilogy in DVD/Blu-Ray hybrid editions, with the Blu-Ray on one side of the disc, and the DVD on the other (impressive feat, that). The Blu-Rays are equipped with "BD Live" extras, which you can access if your player is internet-ready (mine isn't just yet). Otherwise, we get a commentary track with director Greengrass and a whole bunch of featurettes. The picture and sound are phenomenal.

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