The Bourne Supremacy Review
Ah, the life of an international CIA assassin. One moment garrotting innocent businessmen in Berlin, the next, pondering eternity in sunny Goa… This is where we find retired killer Jason Bourne who, with girlfriend Marie, has decamped to the playground of Southern India in order to find his inner self, or at least try and regain his lost memory. He’s tormented by nightmares in which he sees himself killing two people. Why, one wonders, this specific nightmare at this specific time? Because that’s what it says in the screenplay!
Meanwhile, in sunny Europe, Senior CIA Agent Pamela Landy is orchestrating an operation involving the purchase of some classified Russian documents. Suddenly everything goes to hell when a mysterious figure intercedes, killing everyone, stealing the money and carefully leaving behind a nice, neat fingerprint – presumably not his own. Reporting back to his boss, a Russian oligarch sitting in the back of the obligatory black Mercedes, this deadly assassin is despatched again, this time to India. His mission?
To punch Bourne’s ticket!
The Bourne Identity (2002) delivered a competent adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s novel with the emphasis on tight plotting and explosive action. Kudos must be given to the film-makers for attempting to preserve enough thematic elements from the first film to make The Bourne Supremacy a genuine sequel, not just a shallow opportunistic cash-in. Continuity is provided through the return of key cast members: the redoubtable Brian Cox returns as despicable CIA Director Ward Abbott, a man with a terrible secret and a Scottish accent to hide. Less successfully, Franka Potente again plays Bourne’s girlfriend Marie, looking as uncomfortable as she did in the first film. Julia Stiles also reprises her role as Nicky.
Supremacy also retains cinematographer Oliver Wood and, accordingly, much of the first film’s gritty atmosphere. Unfortunately new director Paul Greengrass has applied a speed-addict’s touch to the editing. The film hasn’t been so much cut together as diced. The action sequences are edited to within an inch of their lives – a shame as the stunt work looks excellent – although enough remains of the final car chase to make it thrilling. The main problem is that the hectic frame rate doesn’t lessen significantly even during less frantic scenes, making it hard to take in the convoluted plot.
The film scores on its two new cast members: Joan Allen as Senior CIA Agent Pamela Landy and the excellent Karl Urban as the menacing killer hired to take Bourne out. He’s a lot scarier than Clive Owen was in the first film, perhaps because he doesn’t look as though he kills in his spare time, in between teaching chemistry at the local comprehensive. It’s also nice to see Lilja 4-ever star Oksana Akinshina turning up at the end.
Overall, The Bourne Supremacy provides a pretty entertaining evening out, with enough thrills and spills to keep action fans happy. Damon looks very comfortable in the role now, whether ‘neutralising’ a room full of guards in a few seconds or struggling with his inner demons. It’s just hard to escape the feeling that we’ve been here before.