Sequels usually don’t get it for me and "threequels" are often even worse. Not so with The Bourne Ultimatum, the third movie in a series of three. If you like action thrillers this has to be the best one of the summer. Michael Phillips calls it "a breathless 115 minutes" for a very good reason. It is an action picture that treats narrative rather lightly but in the end it just works superbly.
Novelist Robert Ludlum, who wrote the trilogy about the character Jason Bourne really knows action and detail. And Bourne, an undercover CIA special agent, is perfectly typecast in this movie with Matt Damon. (The film does leave the door open for another Bourne movie but I would guess this has to be it for the series!) Agent Bourne, played adroitly by Damon as noted, is a CIA-trained assassin who is on a search mission to figure out how he was programmed and who he really was before he began killing people all over the world for the U. S. government. The Bourne Ultimatum was supposedly produced on a $130 million to $150 million budget. It shows. It is fast, faster, and even much faster yet, right down to the very end. You just can’t sit still. And this is the kind of movie you need to see on a big screen with all the sound and special effects. I think a small DVD version shown a small screen television will not be as much fun.
If the James Bond movies are built on conflict of ego theme the Bourne series is all about competing intelligence systems and how power has gone really, really bad at the CIA. Some may see this as an attack on our nation’s need for undercover security against terror but realism needs to temper such rabid patriotism, at least to some extent.
The Bourne Ultimatum pits the global, high tech, abilities of the CIA against a super-man type figure who is always just one step ahead of the agency. The sequences in the movie unfold realistically and are very believable. And they are never, for even one second, ever dull. What is lacking in the script, at least in terms of solid dialog, is more than made up for in the scenes and the action. (The hand held camera is huge in this film.) The viewer is literally immersed in the movie experience. You will not have a single moment to think about much else for nearly two hours, which is precisely why I went to see it at my newest cinema on Saturday afternoon. I needed a break from writing and my mind and body was extremely weary. The Bourne Ultimatum did the trick. I loved it.
It would help if you saw the first two Bourne movies before seeing this one as Ultimatum assumes some knowledge of what came in the first two stories. But if you don’t know Jason Bourne is a guy with amnesia who is on the run trying to figure out his life. You will not get the story sorted our until you’ve seen quite a bit of the movie if you haven’t seen films one and two. I do like the Die Hard movies for all their thrills but none of them compare in the least to the Bourne movies, especially to this one. This is not only a story that works, with wild chase scenes that are truly intense, on-the-edge-of-your seat stuff, but The Bourne Ultimatum is a super-hero action movie of the best kind. This is something like watching 24 in a two hour movie version with much less dialog. I loved it. I give it 4-stars without reservation. Go for fun and you will not be disappointed.