The Bourne Supremacy

With its breakneck, in-your-face guerilla photography and constant undercurrent of unbearable suspense, The Bourne Supremacy expands and improves on 2002’s The Bourne Identity, a smartly engineered film that single-handedly breathed life into an anemic genre: the spy thriller.


The Bourne Identity, with independent director Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) behind the camera, didn’t look or feel like generic Hollywood garbage. Tony Gilroy’s screenplay, based on Robert Ludlum’s novel, didn’t bow to convention. With Matt Damon as amnesiac spy Jason Bourne, Liman and Gilroy elevated an international travelogue into a heart-stopping race for the truth.

That race continues at a feverish pace in Bourne Supremacy, which reunites Damon and Gilroy, and brings director Paul Greengrass into the fold. Greengrass might seem like an odd duck to replace Liman, yet all one has to do is look at his previous film, “Bloody Sunday” to understand the decision. In recreating the Ireland 1972 civil rights march, Greengrass incorporated hand-held cameras to become part of the action.

In The Bourne Supremacy, Greengrass uses cinema verite to draw us further into the murky world of Bourne, still on the run after two years. Greengrass and Gilroy know they’re telling the same story, an intricate cat and mouse chase, yet manage to make the film their own. Gilroy never takes the easy way out, creating characters that always have something interesting or vital to say. I particularly admire the way Gilroy avoids the obvious. In one scene, Bourne confronts his mirror image, a reflection of his split personality. Instead of allowing Bourne to smash the mirror, thus destroying his alter ego, Gilroy passes.

I appreciate when filmmakers give audiences credit for being smarter than the butter topping on the popcorn, and not once do Greengrass or Gilroy pander to the lowest common denominator. They automatically assume we’re up to speed, wasting little time filling in the blanks. For the past two years, Bourne (Damon) and Marie (Franka Potente) have been hiding out on the beach in India, knowing that someone will eventually come looking for them.

After suffering through another personal tragedy and being framed for murder, Bourne decides to turn the tables on his former employers, now headed up by ambitious director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen, looking both commanding and radiant). His pursuit takes him across Europe, ending with a hair-raising, white-knuckle car chase through a Moscow tunnel that feels as real as it gets.

Everything about The Bourne Supremacy is supreme: a top flight cast, razor sharp editing, pulsating music, exotic locales, taut direction and flawless writing.

SUPREME SEQUEL

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY

Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, Karl Urban, Gabriel Mann. Directed by Paul Greengrass. Rated PG-13. 108 Minutes.

LARSEN RATING: $8.00



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