One of the most consistently satisfying film trilogies of the last decade draws to a close (or does it?) with the arrival of The Bourne Ultimatum, a brutal, intense and, most importantly, intelligent thriller that finds Jason Bourne (Matt Damon, more attuned to this character with each passing installment) questing after answers, hunting the American government and, at long last, achieving some sense of personal closure.
From the opening moments, The Bourne Ultimatum propels you forward, holding on for dear life as Bourne struggles to come to terms with who he is and what dark secrets dwell in his past. There's more to the plot, of course, but those coming fresh to the film will want the element of surprise preserved. More explicitly than in the previous two films, startling glimpses of Bourne's formation as a ruthless tool of sinister governmental figures -- it's not an accident that these fleeting images strongly evoke associations with Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and allegations of American torture tactics with terrorists.
Indeed, director Paul Greengrass (back for a second round after The Bourne Supremacy) expertly infuses this fictional world with a potent dose of real world politics without ever becoming overbearing or forced. It's a fascinating balancing act and one which gives the film a unique energy that few other summer blockbusters could match. Add to this explosive mixture a healthy dose of pathos, as Bourne comes face to face with his true self, and The Bourne Ultimatum concludes as a fantastically realized drama that brings to a close something that Hollywood rarely pulls off: a commercially successful endeavor that doesn't insult the audience and rewards paying attention.
Let's also not forget two other hallmarks of the Bourne series well represented here: bone-crunching action expertly staged and top-shelf acting. Greengrass has assembled, alongside returning regulars Joan Allen and Damon, a fantastic cast that tears into the material with gusto -- David Strathairn, Scott Glenn and Albert Finney, to name a few. The set-pieces in The Bourne Ultimatum are astonishing in a very visceral way; shooting on location and largely eschewing studio-bound sets allows Greengrass and company to inject a palpable sense of reality into the numerous chase scenes and fight sequences. The climactic chase through packed New York City streets or the harrowing, close-quarter combat in Morocco are adrenaline-charged mini-masterworks, a literal pulse-quickening experience that leaves you dazed.
The Bourne Ultimatum, one of the finest American films of 2007, is simultaneously popcorn entertainment and an engaging, quasi-arthouse thriller that appeals to a wide swath of the moviegoing public. Would that more films balance brains and brawn with such skill and wit as the Bourne series -- but then we likely wouldn't cherish them as much as we do. The DVD
For all the chaotic action, intricate set-pieces and potentially motion sickness-inducing camerawork, The Bourne Ultimatum's 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is immaculate, sporting vivid colors, crisp delineation and a sparkling clarity. There's nary a flaw to be spotted, appropriate for a recently filmed work. The Audio:
Matching the visuals step for step is the Dolby Digital 5.1 track that renders every shattered pane of glass, broken bone or screeching tire in almost painful detail. Nicely balanced and conveying dialogue amid score and sound effects with no drop-out or distortion, the climactic car chases through New York City provide plenty of nice surround moments. Optional Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are included, as are optional English, Spanish and French subtitles. The Extras:
Greengrass contributes a candid, engaging commentary track, covering everything from logistical difficulties to the trick of balancing expectations for the third film in a trilogy. Twelve minutes, 21 seconds of deleted scenes (presented in letterboxed widescreen) are here, as is the five-part, 23 minute and 57 second making-of featurette "Man on the Move: Jason Bourne" (presented in anamorphic widescreen; playable separately or all together); the five minute, 39 second featurette "Rooftop Pursuit" detailing the Moroccan chase sequence (presented in anamorphic widescreen); the four minute, 59 second featurette "Planning the Punches" (presented in anamorphic widescreen); the three minute, 24 second featurette "Driving School" (presented in anamorphic widescreen) and the 10 minute, 47 second featurette "New York Chase" (presented in anamorphic widescreen) wraps it all up. Final Thoughts:
The Bourne Ultimatum is a brutal, intense and, most importantly, intelligent thriller that finds Jason Bourne (Matt Damon, more attuned to this character with each passing installment) questing after answers, hunting the American government and, at long last, achieving some sense of personal closure. It's one of the finest American films of 2007, simultaneously a popcorn entertainment and an engaging, quasi-arthouse thriller that appeals to a wide swath of the moviegoing public. Would that more films balance brains and brawn with such skill and wit as the Bourne series -- but then we likely wouldn't cherish them as much as we do. Highly recommended.