Whenever you look at trilogies, you'll probably notice that many of them lose steam after the first or second film. Keeping the material good enough to last that long appears to be difficult work for movie creators. We've seen many trilogies fall flat and become a distant memory before they ever reach their finales. That's the dilemma that Paul Greengrass faces in directing The Bourne Ultimatum.
In the third film of this spy trilogy, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still on the move and doing all he can to find out about his past. He decides that starting from the beginning is his best option and he thinks he's found someone that can help him. That sounds fine, but it won't be easy. It just so happens that CIA is also after the same person and they want to know what knows and how he got his information. Because of this, Bourne soon finds himself going head to head with some of his former employers one more time.
To complete the story of Jason Bourne's persistent push to find out who he is, we have to once again travel to various spots around the globe. Bourne's global trek takes him to places like Spain, Morocco, England and New York. These environments help to make for some beautiful scenery during action scenes that I'll describe as suspenseful, thrilling and enthralling.
This action here is similar to what's seen in the two previous Bourne movies in that some of the sense that you still have some chase sequences, some fights and things of that nature. While there are similarities in terms of the elements that we see, the content is different by a significant margin. You have Bourne jumping from rooftop to rooftop, running through areas filled with unsuspecting civilians living their daily lives and he's also seen smacking people around with books. They pulled out all the stops by adding some new things and making the familiar seem fresh.
The Bourne Ultimatum, as far as style, pacing and its overall reliance on action, is much closer to the second film than it is the first. That shouldn't come as a surprise since Greengrass directed part two as well as this one, while Liman was behind the camera for the first. These films got faster with each release and they may have also gotten more innovative during that span as well in some ways. They toss a bunch of things at you and include memorable moments throughout the entire movie than fans should think highly of.
I feel that Greengrass had a much better grasp on everything in his return to the trilogy than he did in his debut. He controls everything masterfully and makes this high energy action thriller more than watchable all the way through. From the opening scene, this movie runs as smoothly and as fluently as possible. Thanks to him and all involved in putting it together, The Bourne Ultimatum goes on without a hitch and is delivered in a fun and smart package all the way to it's exciting conclusion.
When looking at all three of the Bourne movies featuring Matt Damon in the lead role, I realize that they had several things in common and much of it is stuff that I loved. There's also something in these movies that I appreciated and I wish more movies would do this whenever possible. I love the fact that none of these movies started slowly and that they didn't have too many empty spots where nothing happens. I'm talking about the fact that there are no long drawn out scenes with no purpose other than extending the film. For me, it's a cheap and annoying tactic that I absolutely despise and will continue to hate for as long as I live.
Every film in this trilogy jumps right into the story and does whatever it is supposed to do at the right time and with the correct pacing. You see quite a few movies that drag on and stretch out thin material and I believe that it makes certain movies suffer. If there was a better script or they just improved on what they had, there would be no need to do this stuff and the quality of these kinds of movies would surely increase. It's why movies like The Bourne Ultimatum don't appear to have many large holes or anything. They took what they had and delivered it the way they needed to. No useless scenes or worthless dialog to be had.
What we do get is a fantastic movie that caps off an amazing trilogy. This film has a rich texture that allows it to be presented to the audience on a large-scale that's fitting of a true summer blockbuster, while still maintaining a high level of quality, substance and depth. When it comes to blockbusters or action films in general, it's hard to find many that are complete and nearly flawless. You do however find one here, because The Bourne Ultimatum is one of them.
When speaking of the entire Bourne franchise, I'd have to say that all three movies are great. While that's true, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Ultimatum are the two best. I always have a difficult time definitively saying which one of these two is the best. Sometimes I go with Identity and other times I side with Ultimatum. It doesn't really matter, because they're both pretty close in my eyes. It would be like choosing between Emanuela de Paula and Candice Swanepoel. No matter what, there is no wrong answer to that question.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Film Length: 116 minutes
Release Date: August 3, 2007
Distributor: Universal Pictures