If you are a devotee of time travel...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum: Just Why Is It So Good?

We just got back from seeing The Bourne Ultimatum, and I definitely agree with all the superlatives. The movie had everything - fine, razor-keen acting, captivating plot, non-stop breathtaking action. This third movie in the Bourne series is clearly the best of three - though the first, The Bourne Identity, was almost as good. (I thought the second, The Bourne Supremacy, was not quite as good as the first and third. One big problem was that I missed Marie in the second movie.)

The Bourne Ultimatum had lots of memorable scenes. My two favorites actually both feature Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons as well as Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.

The first has Nicky explaining to Jason why she helps him - tying up one of those loose ends from the first movie, which I didn't quite realize was a loose end until this scene (up until which, I thought Nicky was just attracted to Jason).

And the other is the extraordinary fight scene between Jason and Desh (played by Joey Ansah). This scene - with Nicky getting a little involved in the fight - is in a league with the classic Sean Connery - Robert Blake fight in From Russia With Love.

But with all of these superb ingredients, I'm still wondering why these movies are so good, so enjoyable - given that the essential elements of the Bourne series plot are so familiar. We've seen many movies about spies and secret agents abused by their employers. Many movies about secret agent amnesia. Many movies about spies on the run for their lives, helped by beautiful women, civilian or agent - some of whom survive, some not.

What makes the Bourne series different?

If I told you, my life would be forfeit...

No, only kidding - the truth is I don't completely know.

But here's my best guess at the moment: it's because the action - again, especially in the first and third movies - is almost truly non-stop. No time out is taken for James Bondian humor (which works well for James) and even the flirting is minimal (again, much less than with James Bond, which also works well for him).

These Bourne movies may even be a distinct genre - minimalist action movies ... and I have a feeling they'll even play better in retrospect.

The Bourne Ultimatum - Bourne And Desh Fight

This is just a piece of the fight scene.


Anonymous said...

I saw this the day it came out, just a nice break on my birthday. I too thought the movie more than lived up to its predecessors. Personally, I think the movie (and trilogy) stands out because of how smart it is. They do a very good job of showing the subtle ways Bourne is ahead of everything, and how he thinks. He explained what he could do in the first movie, the rest is just fun. Another reason the action is so good is that it's somewhat cerebral in how it keeps escalating. In the third, I really enjoyed how they tied in the end of the second, by actually starting this one before the end of the 2nd.

Paul Levinson said...

Excellent point about the end of the second!

And I think you're right about the intelligence of the movies - a thinking-person's Bond...