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The Bourne Ultimatum(2007)
All he wanted was to disappear; instead, Jason Bourne is now hunted by the people who made him what he is--legendary assassin. Having lost his memory and the one person he loved, he is undeterred by the barrage of bullets and a new generation of highly-trained killers. Bourne has only one objective: to go back to the beginning and find out who he was. Now, in the new chapter of this espionage series, Bourne will hunt down his past in order to find a future. He must travel from Moscow, Paris and London to Tangier and New York City as he continues his quest to find the real Jason Bourne--all the while trying to outmaneuver the scores of cops, federal officers and Interpol agents with him in their crosshairs.
For more about The Bourne Ultimatum and the The Bourne Ultimatum Blu-ray release, see the The Bourne Ultimatum Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on January 26, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: George Nolfi, Scott Z. Burns, Tony Gilroy, Robert Ludlum
Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Édgar Ramírez
» See full cast & crew
The Bourne Ultimatum Blu-ray Review
After a holy trinity of near-perfect action films, consider me Bourne again.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, January 26, 2010
Most sequels languish under the law of diminishing financial and creative returns, but the Bourne franchise seems to be a statistical anomaly, an action series where each new installment is somehow better, bolder, and more aptly realized than the last. And this really is saying something, as The Bourne Identity—the first in the trilogy—basically defined action films for the new millennium with its cerebral, effortlessly exciting take on the spy-versus- spy sub-genre. When director Paul Greengrass (United 93) took the reins from Identity's Doug Liman for the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, he introduced the much-discussed shaky-cam aesthetic, which nauseated some viewers while others praised the frenetic mirroring of style and substance. (As an aside, the nausea-inducing effect is much diminished at home on Blu-ray, no matter how big of a screen you have.) More than just a visual upheaval, however, Supremacy delves further into the shadowy world of Matt Damon's Jason Bourne, a psychogenic amnesiac and one-time spy who's out to collect—by whatever means necessary—the scattered puzzle pieces of his identity. This theme of self-discovery literally and figuratively comes home in the third film, The Bourne Ultimatum, which brings our impossibly skilled superspy back to where it all began—the covert government program where his personality was reprogrammed into that of a capable killer. Essentially, he's Wolverine in X2, with elite spy training instead of adamantium claws, but just as deadly and conflicted.
Skipping nary a beat, the film opens almost exactly where Supremacy left off, with Bourne wounded by an assassin in snowy Moscow. Bourne breaks into a dingy clinic, only to be interrupted by two local police, whom he promptly disarms. "My argument is not with you," he tells them before fleeing into the night—and into the story proper—to find some far bigger fish in need of frying. From here it's simply a matter of following a trail of documents and possible informants back to the origin of his lethal skill set. First it's off to London, where Bourne meets a somewhat less-than-intrepid journalist (Paddy Considine) who has heard rumors of an "Operation Blackbriar," which might very well control all of the C.I.A.'s legally thorny black ops. Bourne then jets to Madrid to track down the journalist's source, a C.I.A Station Chief (Colin Stinton), but when he meets up with Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), his former C.I.A. contact/love interest, the trail leads to Morocco, where the two are pursued by an "asset"—that's "assassin" in C.I.A. speak —who has been "activated" to make sure no information about Operation Blackbriar gets leaked. Fat chance one measly assassin is going to stop Jason Bourne, though, right? Bourne gets the info he requires and flies to New York—I hope this guy is getting frequent flyer miles—to confront his maker and bring the insidious Operation Blackbriar to light. All the while, he's being tracked by ruthless and single-minded C.I.A. Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), with help from Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), who is much more sympathetic to Bourne's plight.
The A-to-B-to-C plotting seems quite complicated at first, but it's deceptively simple, actually, and all of this fast-paced jet-setting really only serves to give exotic new locales to director Paul Greengrass and choreographer Jeff Imada's masterfully staged action set pieces. Because honestly, it's not as if the mystery of Bourne's identity is of substantial interest to the audience. We care because Bourne cares, but it's not like we're holding our breath just waiting to find out what his real name is. Rather, we're along for the ride to marvel at Bourne's abilities, to see him outwit and overpower his opponents, to be thrilled by hold-on-to-your-hats car chases and nail- biting near escapes. And there needs to be a reason for all this high-octane action to happen.
The mystery, then, is simply the rocket fuel that propels the plot, which quickly reaches supersonic speeds and rarely relents. Greengrass sets the pulse of the film high from the very first frame, and the prolonged action sequences in Ultimatum are, in my opinion, by far the best in the series. At its core, the film is one long chase scene made up of smaller, location- centric pursuits. During the segment in Tangier, Nicky is hunted down by an assassin, who is followed by Bourne, who is trailed by local cops—as if they're ever going to catch up. In the hands of a less capable director, a multi-layered sequence like this could become geographically confusing and not easily followed, but Greengrass is the ultimate pursuer here, chasing the action with a panther-like grace and capturing it all in what feels, to us, like real time. During the scene at London's Waterloo Station, where a sniper glasses Bourne and his journalist contact from a hidden perch, the director's characteristic shaky-cam darts and zooms through the crowds with a paranoiac anxiety that matches the innate tension of the situation. As with its predecessors, The Bourne Ultimatum is a classy, handsome production that distinguishes itself from the pack of lesser actioners through sheer talent and professionalism. The action scenes throb with excitement, the ancillary actors lend riveting and nuanced performances, and leading man Matt Damon belies his boyish, All-American face by surging with a dark undercurrent of aggression and regret.
We may not always be emotionally attached to the MacGuffin of Bourne's personal quest—though a scene where he confesses remembering the faces of everyone he's killed is genuinely arresting —but the Bourne franchise, and Ultimatum in particular, grips us thematically, encapsulating our collective post-9/11 uncertainty about the government's intentions and motivations. Lest we forget, the bad guys in the series are power-hungry C.I.A. officials who have little trouble killing in cold blood to further their own sinister and unchecked agendas. In what is perhaps the film's most chilling moment, Pam Landy asks Noah Volsen when all this out-of- control bloodletting will end. "It ends," says Volsen, utterly convinced of his own patriotism, "when we've won." No terms are given as to what winning entails, but we can assume it involves Bourne—and the truth about Blackbriar's illegal operations—being silenced forever. The truth always comes out, though, and with a fourth film currently in preproduction, it looks like Bourne will be back in short order to make sure that it does.
The Bourne Ultimatum Blu-ray, Video Quality
With a visual experience that's quite similar to The Bourne Supremacy's, The Bourne Ultimatum's 1080p/VC-1 transfer takes the already-polished look of its predecessor and buffs it until it positively shines. From a dark, snow-covered night in Moscow to the blazing afternoon heat of a Tangier marketplace, the film's various color schemes are expertly reproduced here. The palette is appropriately muted most of the time—sleek, modern grays are in abundance—but when strong color is called for, the transfer delivers in spades. Skin tones fit nicely in that natural pocket between ruddy and pallid, and the weighty contrast gives the image a striking presence that's never diluted or washed-out. As with The Bourne Supremacy, black levels can be a bit oppressive at times—especially during the darker indoor scenes—but if my memory serves me correctly, this is exactly what the film looked like in theaters. If shadow detail is occasionally crushed, it's all in service of director Paul Greengrass' visual aesthetic, which favors a moody atmosphere over an image that's unnaturally bright. Clarity never suffers though, and Ultimatum is tack sharp throughout almost all of its runtime. Minus a few scattered soft shots, textures pop in convincing bas-relief, background detailing is striking—see the crowded Waterloo train station—and even small details, like the zipper on an assassin's jacket, seem real enough to touch. Just as importantly, compression issues and the unnecessary tinkering of DNR and edge enhancement are completely absent, leaving a fine-grained image that's sharp, clean, and believably filmic.
The Bourne Ultimatum Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, if The Bourne Supremacy put your home theater system through the paces, Ultimatum's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track will have it doubled over and gasping for breath after a brutal sonic workout. The film won Oscars for Best Sound and Best Sound Editing at the 80th Academy Awards, and both the intricacy and sheer pulverizing intensity of the audio design are even better on Blu-ray. From a porcelain teacup settling gently on a saucer to the most earth-shaking, metal-rending explosion, this track is, if not always completely realistic, entirely convincing and perfectly realized. It all begins with the wall of wrap- around sound that envelops the viewer in the film's world from start to finish. Whether it's the commuter hustle of Waterloo Station, the bleeps, bloops, and keyboard strokes in the CIA situation room, gulls squawking above a chaotic Moroccan marketplace, or the hectic street sounds of New York City, this track puts you right in the middle of it all. And this is just what it sounds like when it's quiet. Add the Bourne-induced action into the mix and you've bullets pinging through the soundfield with pinpoint precision, tires squealing on the pavement, metal wrenching and glass spraying across asphalt during multi-car pileups, deafening explosions triggering massive waves of LFE output, and, of course, the exaggerated but oh so satisfying sound of Bourne pummeling his aggressors with fists that might as well be made of concrete. Somehow, within all this frenetic audio action, dialogue remains expertly prioritized, leaving no line unheard. And I haven't even touched on John Powell's brilliant score, which provides the martial pulse for the film's brisk editing, or the well-implemented impressionistic sound design of Bourne's periodic flasbacks. Crank up your receivers, Bourne fans, and prepare to be annihilated.
The Bourne Ultimatum Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Commentary by Director Paul Greengrass
"I wanted to set the tempo high from the off...from the first frame I wanted the tempo to be high." Greengrass' quiet but endlessly insightful commentary is largely concerned with the film's pacing, and I'm not sure I've heard a better explanation of the importance of balancing action and character in a big budget thriller. An excellent listen all around.
Deleted Scenes (SD, 12:22)
A standard assemblage of deleted scenes, most of which seem to have been cut, appropriately enough, for pacing.
Be Bourne Spy Training
"Welcome, Covert Ops Trainee, to the Spy Aptitude Test." Here, you're shown five movie clips and are asked to answer multiple choice questions that test your ability to visually capture information, Jason Bourne-style.
Man on the Move: Jason Bourne (SD, 23:58 total)
Bourne is quite the jet setter, and these behind-the-scenes featurettes follow the production of The Bourne Ultimatum through six countries. Features sections for Berlin (doubling as Moscow), Paris, London, Madrid, and Tangier.
Rooftop Pursuit (SD, 5:39)
Camera geeks will love seeing the cinematographers operate the CableCam, a camera that's literally mounted on a zip line. We also get to see a stuntman holding a camera and following Matt Damon's flying leap from a rooftop and through a window.
Planning the Punches (SD, 4:59)
Joey Anseh, who plays Desh, shows off some of his capoeira moves, and stunt choreographer Jeff Imada leads us through rehearsals for the film's big hand-to-hand fight in Tangier.
Driving School (SD, 3:23)
It wouldn't be a Bourne film without a crazy car chase or two (or three), and here we see Matt Damon practicing his own driving stunts, like a flawlessly executed reverse 180.
New York Chase (SD, 10:46)
"New York is not a place where people do car chases," says Matt Damon, but that doesn't keep the Bourne crew from trying—and succeeding. In this segment, we get to see all the absolutely insane stunt work that goes into filming a grade-A chase scene.
I'll be honest; I'm not the biggest fan of Universal's U-Control, which allows you to experience supplementary materials while watching the film. Why? Well, mostly because I'd rather be watching the film. But to each his own, and if you're into U-Control, you'll likely be pleased with the various "tracks" which are offered here. "Blackbriar Files" gives us a high-techish interface that shows info on places and people in the film, "Bourne Orientation" redundantly over-explains plot points, and "Picture in Picture"—the only track that's really worth your time—gives us a variety of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the director, actors, and crew members. There's also a one-off "Volkswagon: Get More Info" segment, which provides some stats on the Toureg V10 TDI.
My Scenes Bookmarking
The Bourne Ultimatum Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
With the reboot of the Bond franchise and the emergence of a new superspy named Jason Bourne, the '00s have been a great decade for cinematic espionage. The Bourne Ultimatum is one of my favorites among the recent crop of spy flicks, packing more thrills per minute than most other action films could hope for in an entire runtime. To put it simply: the action comes hard and fast, Paul Greengrass' direction is astute and assured, and Matt Damon is better than ever. The film also looks and sounds absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray, and comes with a generous supply of bonus features, including an excellent commentary track by Greengrass and an abundance of picture-in-picture featurettes. Highly recommended.
The Bourne Ultimatum: Other Editions
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