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BOURNE ULTIMATUM, THE

SYNOPSIS:
When London's The Guardian runs a story about his real identity being secret, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) believes that security journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) must have a source who could finally lead him to discover who he really is before he became a professional assassin for the CIA. He makes contact with Ross, but the ever vigilant, technically empowered spy Agency picks up the scent; under orders from the head of the special 'dirty' branch, Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) a team is sent to kill them. This sets off a chase from London through Paris, Madrid, Tangier and New York as Bourne tries to evade his old employer, save his collaborator Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) and make contact with a CIA bureau chief Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton) who knows the truth of his beginnings as an agent. But Daniels is killed before Bourne can get the information, and Vosen puts the heat on to have the evidence destroyed and Bourne terminated before he can discover and possibly divulge details of Blackbriar, the top secret operation that spawned him as its first killing machine.

Review by Louise Keller:
There are more right hand turns than city blocks in the CBD in this exhilarating final chapter of the Bourne trilogy, when a host of different characters become targets and Jason Bourne finds himself with unexpected allies. There's a constant feeling of motion in this highly paced, riveting thriller whose action traverses seven countries, and in which Bourne sets out to unlock the final secrets to his forgotten identity. Action drives the narrative with massive stunts involving cars, motorcycles and a stunning chase sequence over the rooftops of Tangier in Morocco. Gripping from the outset, The Bourne Ultimatum is a thrilling conclusion filled with twists, surprises and a magnetic central performance from Matt Damon, who effortlessly marries his killer instinct with a tangible sense of decency.

The story picks up precisely where the last film finishes and director Paul Greengrass once again instigates the frenetic jerky hand-held camera style previously used in The Bourne Supremacy, which positively reinforces the transient mood, although excessively at times. Immediacy can easily develop into confusion when the camera moves so violently that it is hard to determine precisely what is happening. But that small reservation aside, the thrills and excitement are considerable as Bourne follows the trail leading to the top secret Blackbriar project. Meanwhile, the colluding members of the CIA, now headed by David Strathairn's Noah Vosen, are connecting the dots, by impressive use of tracking, bugging and camera devices, following Bourne's every move. Bourne's sixth sense alerts him to the imminent danger and spying eyes, and there's tension mounting when he plants a phone into the pocket of Paddy Considine's investigative journalist Simon Moss in the midst of the overcrowded Waterloo Station, also making him a target.

The return of CIA operatives Joan Allen and Julia Stiles is cleverly integrated with flashbacks, shown as blurry memories. Our emotions are put through the ringer as Bourne uses everything at hand to escape from his foes as well as getting his hands dirty to find out what he needs to know. It's a multi-layered, multi-national thriller that delivers on every count, including raising issues of morality, which are at the heart of the film.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There's no time to analyse the plot as Paul Greengrass propels us into the film with no preliminaries, just a high octane Moscow sequence in which Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) gets away from a couple of heavies. We travel rapidly to various capitals around the world as Jason chases and is in turn chased by the CIA. At one point he is also mistaken for a bomber in Tangier, and the local cops chase him as well. In fact, the bomb was meant for CIA bureau chief Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton), who was the man Bourne wanted to question about his past, and his forgotten self.

The story is well set up and pretty clearly told, with Matt Damon in top form as the haunted, hunted Jason, a threat to a top secret CIA project. David Strathairn is terrific as the cold hearted head of the CIA's 'dirty' team, Noah Vosen, matched for icy lack of conscience by Scott Glenn as his boss Ezra Kramer, who has to be protected from any fallout. Joan Allen is back as the serious and devoted Pamela Landy, Bourne's direct boss who wants to save him and who deplores everything Vosen's team stands for. And Julia Stiles appears (a tad too late in the film) as the young CIA pro who becomes a vital ally for Bourne on his ultimate run.

The film relentlessly holds our attention as chases multiply and stunts escalate, with Damon called on to beat several adversaries in close up encounters of the physical kind. All sequences are shot on hand held camera, often in tight close up inside the action. Note to Paul Greengrass: there's a new thing out called the tripod, which is a really useful device that can be used to steady the camera and help provide perspective for the audience. This revolutionary but simple tool enables the filmmaker to avoid loss of visual interest by the audience when a scene, otherwise shot by an unstable cameraman, becomes a blur of action. PS: other directors and cinematographers may also like to find out about the tripod.

Not far beneath the fast moving surface of The Bourne Ultimatum, there is the political whipping meted out to the US for its nasty, dirty tactics - these are the tactics for which Joan Allen's Pamela "didn't sign up". And for those whose interest is more technologically oriented, the film is a treasure chest of spying technology with global access to everyone, everywhere, anytime. Certain key passports are digitally tagged and can be located in a few seconds, whether in the heart of New York or a café in Tangier. Surveillance apparatus is so sophisticated that when someone like Vosen wants to track a target or to see their files, his operators can flash it onto a screen, pathc it through to his cell ... oh yes, and all cell phone activity is monitored, so if you utter a key word, it sends an alert to Langley HQ, with your location. All very cool - or not. But it's certainly cool in cinematic terms.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MATT DAMON INTERVIEW

BOURNE ULTIMATUM, THE (M)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glen, Paddy Considine, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Joey Ansah, Colin Stinton

PRODUCER: Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Paul Sandberg

DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass

SCRIPT: Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns (novel; by Robert Ludlum)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood

EDITOR: Christopher Rouse

MUSIC: John Powell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Peter Wenham

RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 30, 2007







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