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Spotlight on: The Bourne Supremacy

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The Bourne Supremacy Paul Greengrass's The Bourne Supremacy

Amnesiac Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) just can't seem to get a break. Relocated to India with girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente of Run Lola Run), his idyllic life is broken by yet another assassination attempt (it has to fail or we wouldn't have a movie). Chases and vengeance ensue as the story geographically covers Berlin, Moscow, and Naples.

The Bourne Supremacy is the sequel to 2002's The Bourne Identity (from the second novel in the Bourne trilogy by Robert Ludlum; an adaptation of The Bourne Ultimatum will inevitably follow). Bourne is truly a man of mystery: he doesn't even know who he is, only that he once was a paid assassin for the now-defunct Treadstone Project. He thought he was in the clear, but this brings him back out of hiding to defend himself and try to find out why is again a target. On the side of the CIA are Pamela Landy (Joan Allen, in the kind of role she was meant to play), Ward Abbott (the always wonderfully villainous Brian Cox), and, for a short time, the beautiful Julia Stiles as Bourne's former contact in Paris, Nicky (she plays utterly terrified like I've never seen).

Director Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday) takes over from Bourne Identity's Doug Liman (who stayed on as producer) and gives Supremacy a kinetic style that occasionally veers into the eye-jarring. The use of quick cuts makes chases and fights viscerally exciting, but doesn't allow us to really watch the action. It feels like we're being thrown right along with Bourne, which was probably the idea, but it also makes it seem like the filmmakers are hiding something like their inability to capture a good master shot.

The script is mostly a medium for government two-stepping and action set pieces, not that I'm complaining. My favorite involves a crowd scene in Berlin when Damon meets up with Stiles as the agency tries to keep them in their sights so they can kill him. A group of protesters, a slow-moving tram, and Bourne's ingenuity contrive to foil their efforts and Stiles gets her aforementioned terror scene in a side room in the subway. The combination of sound, visuals, editing, and the acting of Damon and Stiles offer quite a lot in the way of entertainment. The film is obviously left open for a sequel (after all, there is a third book to film) but ends on a high note as Landy gives Jason his real name and birth date.

I don't usually get into this kind of spy thriller, but Damon's engaging persona makes Jason Bourne instantly likable and the terrific cast is a joy to watch in their various roles. The most interesting part, though, is watching as Bourne begins to remember details about his past work. He attempts to make the amends he can and then moves on to the next chase, as the agency is always just a half-step behind him. The music accompanying all this is somewhat reminiscent of the aforementioned Run Lola Run soundtrack, with the closer from Moby being a particular standout. All in all, The Bourne Supremacy is a popcorn movie of the highest order. Just make sure to get a big enough soda to wash down all that compulsively-shoveled-in treat.

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