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BOURNE SUPREMACY, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Living with new identities in a seaside village in Goa, Jason Bourne Matt Damon) and Marie (Franka Potente) are forced out of hiding when Jason spies a spy (Karl Urban) spying on them. His cover blown, he takes Marie and drives off, with the mysterious spy in hot pursuit. It's not until he discovers that he has been framed from the inside, for a CIA operation that was double crossed. As tantalising pieces of his memory return to build a picture of the trauma that caused his amnesia, Bourne again relies on his skills as a trained assassin to survive, as he hunts the very team that spawned him - at the same time searching for a way to redeem himself.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's been two years since Doug Liman brought us one of the best thrillers in years in The Bourne Identity. Liman remains as one of the executive producers, but with director Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday) at the helm, there is a new language to the sequel - which is largely incomprehensible. It feels as though the filmmakers were so keen to make The Bourne Supremacy fast and slick with super-fast editing and jumpy camera work (at times nauseatingly so), that they have forgotten the all-important part - telling a comprehensible and cohesive story with characters we believe in. And therein lies the main problem

The story is complex and often confusing. The most successful (and main plot thread) is that of Bourne's relentless pursuit by Joan Allen's Pamela Landy. Why Bourne has being framed to begin with, is never really clear and action sequences are clearly regarded as more important than character or plot. In fact even the tension feels fabricated and the constancy of the jerky hand-held camera irritates and grates. A huge leap of faith is required to connect, and many plot details appear to have not been properly thought through. I found myself distracted by small things like Bourne using a passport bearing his own name (when he has a handful of passports to chose from), and the implausibility of a pursuer to be behind Bourne's shoulder, when he was not physically close to him to begin with. I laughed out loud when Landy enters a hotel room (which looks like any other hotel room) and says within seconds 'I recognise the room from the photo (of a murdered body outline).' (Credit to Allen for delivering the line straightfaced)

The key cast is back with Matt Damon as engaging as ever as the highly skilled assassin, haunted by the past he can't remember and Allen's Landy is a terrific new addition: the relationship between Landy and Bourne is reminiscent of the two central characters in The Fugitive. I enjoyed the scenes with Julia Stiles, the most believable in the film, but the attempt to give Bourne a conscience in the final scenes shot in a wintry, snowy Moscow, seem contrived. Marton Csokas makes the most of his scenes, and manages to make the impossible seem possible, including momentarily getting the upper hand in a tussle, despite both his hands being bound tightly in front of him.

The action sequences have pace and are often spectacular. In particular, the chase in a tunnel that does have pace and will satisfy action fans, even though it is hard to decipher precisely what is happening on screen, due to the frenetic editing. I often found myself enjoying the action, even though I was not really sure what was happening. It is hard, too, to get a good sense of place, unlike the first film which excelled at transporting us to the rich European settings. So much is shot close up, and often it is hard to work out whose car, which train, where did the boat come from, and how can Bourne read a map while driving along the expressway? Perhaps the details wouldn't matter so much, if we believed in what was happening.

Review by Andrew L Urban:
Is it perhaps the largely European settings, or the absence of an evil mastermind about to destroy the world ... the Bourne films (so far two) are far more engaging and credible than most action thrillers. Is it that Matt Damon is so unlikely a killer that his performance as an assassin is totally credible? Or is it maybe the writing? Well, yes, and good storytelling from the novel to the screenplay, is certainly in evidence. The baddies here are uncovered for what they are: venal little greedy bastards. But even here, we have terrific, complex characterisations, including an action cameo from Marton Csokas, the second New Zealander, along with Karl Urban, in this picture.

No, Jason's biggest enemy is his conscience, once it's prodded by the return of memories that suggest he may have had to kill an innocent person - collateral damage of the worst kind. This is the emotional anchor for the character and hence the action. It also paves the way to a satisfying payoff for Jason's redemption, which is handled with great restraint, honesty and sentiment, and not a moment of schmalz. (And features that wonderful young actress Oksana Akinshina, who played the title role in Lukas Moodysson's Lilya 4-Ever.)

There is plenty of action, including the opening chase with its deadly, unexpected climax, and a sensational car chase to rival anything on screen for sheer adrenalin-charged pace. Editing elsewhere is also notably good, as is the score. Excellent locations, production design and a snappy script takes us into the world of espionage with its clandestine mood, its uncertainties and its paranoias. Joan Allen delivers a nicely balanced CIA middle manager with a handful of trouble, and Brian Cox is richly engaging as a veteran operator anxious to hang on to office until retirement, no matter what the cost.

Julia Stiles pops up as a small-time assistant to Bourne from the past, and I suspect she will pop up in the next film, too. This role was an introductory effort, and much too small to be left undeveloped.

And finally, director Paul Greengrass has flattered Doug Liman (director of The Bourne Identity and producer of both) by stylistically imitating much of the first film. And that's not a bad thing.

The Bourne Supremacy confirms the Bourne franchise is strong: it combines action, character and some well observed aspects of the human condition for a rounded and satisfying movie, made with great technical skill.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

BOURNE SUPREMACY, THE (M)
(US/Germany)

CAST: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Gabriel Mann, Joan Allen, Marton Csokas, Tom Gallop, Oksana Akinshina

PRODUCER: Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall, Paul Sandberg

DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass

SCRIPT: Tony Gilroy (novel by Robert Ludlum)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood

EDITOR: Richard Pearson, Christopher Rouse

MUSIC: John Powell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dominic Watkins

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 26, 2004







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