The Bourne Ultimatum

If you’ve ever seen the film Team America and loved it [like I], then you can’t help but do the voice/impression that film does of Matt Damon where he can only say his name in that hilarious ‘dumb-like’ voice. As I began to watch this film, The Bourne Ultimatum, I grinned and did the Team America impression. However, I only did this once, at the very beginning, and never did it again. Matt Damon as Jason Bourne doesn’t make you want to do the ‘impression’. I’m impressed by this.

The beginning of this movie is brilliant. For those who haven’t seen the previous Bourne films, you are wondering ‘why is this man, Bourne, running away?’. The first-time audience does not feel ‘damn, I should of seen the last two films as this is just bollocks to me’. For the final film in the trilogy, this is very tough to do, yet the ‘Ultimatum’ manages to do it perfectly. I think I’ve seen the previous one [number 2, The Bourne Supremacy] and therefore I think I remember why he was running and limping and so on. For those who have seen the previous films, this beginning is ideal as it takes off exactly where ’Supremacy’ left you, with none of the boring ’previously on Bourne’.

There is a little background information that you need which is given to the new audience in a way that is not patronizing. In fact, unless you really looked into it, you could hardly tell that the audience is being told the previous stories in short. There is a scene where a debriefing meeting is taking place. The CIA staff are going through the background of the Bourne file and story, giving other CIA members [and the audience] a basic idea of what has previously happened.

The whole film is shot using hand-held cameras, or at least the hand-held camera effect. This effect makes the whole film feel more personal. It makes the audience subconsciously feel like they are in the action, not just sitting in a chair. They are still witnesses to what is happening in the movie but because its all hand-held, it makes the audience feel like they’re watching true events, not some Hollywood blockbuster with fancy camera angles and special effects.

However, there is some ‘fancy’ camera angles but I like to think of them as more of artistic cinematography. There is one particular shot that is used quite a few times; a person or object is blocking most of the screen, only to view a partial part of the person’s face. I’ve always been a fan of only using part of the screen. This particular technique could fall flat on its face with the audience looking at the person/object blocking the person. Paul Greengrass, however, makes sure that the blocking is either black or a very dark colour and the person in partial view is brightly lit. This makes sure that the audience look at the person rather than the person/object doing the blocking. Am I making any sense at all? Sorry if I’m not, watch the film and you’ll see what I mean!

This film has something in common with a movie called Phone Booth with Colin Farrell. The whole film is one location which seems boring to the average civilian; a phone booth. Yet the makers of that film managed to make me [and my family] on the edge of our seats with anticipation. The Bourne Ultimatum does this too but only for a partial part of the film; the Waterloo Station scene. Its all set in a train station in London. I’ve been to this station a few times and its not that amazing. Yet, watching this, I’ve never been so interested in a train station [scenery] before. They’ve managed to make this mundane building something so exciting that you forget its just a train station! You may think I’m mad, but I find quite an achievement.

A lot of spies or ‘heroes’ in these spy films are normally quite cheesy and sometimes a tad bit unbelievable which often works. Bourne, on the other hand, is always one step ahead of the CIA or snipers but in a very believable way. I don’t know quite how to describe it other than you don’t think to yourself “oh come on, that would never happen”. Bourne also never does any of those cheesy spy lines. Those lines can work for people like Bond but Bourne is a fresh approach to spies. He shuts his mouth and gets on with it which is what these people [if they are real] would do.

One scene that I made a note on was the big fight scene between Bourne and the other assassin. There is a chase before this which has a big instrumental song over the top of it. The fight scene, however, has no music at all. I found this to be very interesting. I suppose it made the scene seem more real as all you hear are the grunts and groans of pain from the two men, the horrid sound of skin punching skin and glass and objects breaking. Its amazing what music [or lack of] can do to a scene. Another scene that I felt was brilliant for making it feel more real was the car chase scene. The camera focused more on what was happening with the cars and the drivers rather than making the cars look good. I loved this because I’m not the world’s biggest car lover and don’t really car about the car looking all pretty, I just want to see how much damage can be done to it before Bourne thinks ‘right, I actually can’t drive this anymore’. It was a scene in a movie, not a car advertisement.

The whole film is very cleverly written. There are a few films out there that dumb it all down quite a bit and almost borderline patronizing. This film is simple to follow but in a way that still makes you think. The book, of which it is based on, must taken some credit for this. Its clearly been very well thought out and thank God the film didn’t ruin it completely. Also, I really liked the way that the CIA or at least most of its members [particularly Noah Vosen] are portrayed as the dumb, arrogant bad guys. Why do us audiences love seeing people of the government shown in a bad light? We love seeing them being proven wrong or have their asses handed to them by our ‘hero’. I think I shall end this review on my favourite lines from the film which I feel really showed how thick these CIA folk can be;

Jason Bourne: Where are you now?
Noah Vosen: I’m sitting in my office.
Jason Bourne: I doubt that.
Noah Vosen: Why would you doubt that?
Jason Bourne: If you were in your office right now we’d be having this conversation face-to-face.




Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 10:45 PM  Leave a Comment  
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