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The opposite of Bond...and very good for it
on December 15, 2004
There are no world domination conspiracies. No extravagant super-gadgets. No deadly supermodels and megalomaniac geniuses. Just Bourne, his wits, a couple of guns, and whatever else he can get his hands on.
Firmly entrenched in reality (as much as having a martial arts expert with photographic memory, incredible marksmanship and driving skills, coupled with fluency in at least four languages, and spycraft/black ops training is feasible in the real world), The Bourne Supremacy follows in the footsteps of The Bourne Identity to deliver solid action which is a refreshing break from the cartoon shenanigans of Bond.
The film opens two years after the events of The Bourne Identity, where Jason Bourne, a black ops assassin played by Matt Damon, had become amnesiac and severed his ties with the CIA. Jason and his lover, Maria, played once again by the German actress Franka Potente, have been skipping around the globe and are currently hiding in India. However, events beyond his control conspire to drag him back to the conspiracies and machinations of hidden players. An undercover CIA agent is murdered in Berlin, and all the evidence points to Bourne. Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, and some minor players return from the first movie, and Joan Allen is introduced as a high level CIA administrator who wants to track Bourne down. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, lots of globetrotting, including visits to Paris, Berlin, and Moscow, and great set pieces.
The return of most of the cast from the first movie serves as a great means of establishing continuity. Strangely enough, Ms. Stiles is once again delegated to a very minor role (in the first movie, she was little more than a glorified phone operator), but this time around, she has a key scene with Mr. Damon. Ms. Allen has great presence and manages to hold her own in her many scenes with Mr. Cox. Mr. Damon thoroughly inhabits the role of Bourne, convincingly playing a ruthless assassin who, despite intense conditioning to be a remorseless killer, is struggling to regain his humanity. Mr. Damon has once again spent considerable time conditioning himself for the role, and it shows. He is lean, fit, and utterly believable in his fighting sequences. However, more than being just another action hero, Mr. Damon also brings convincing intelligence to the role. The audience can believe that Bourne is constantly thinking two steps ahead of everyone else, that anything can become a weapon in his hands, that he is always considering a way out, and that every act, even simply picking up a bottle of vodka, has a reason.
The image quality of the DVD is excellent, although in parts it seemed too dark. The filming technique used by the director, which involves extensive use of hand-held and shoulder-mounted cameras, has been much criticized, and must have been a dizzying experience in the movie theater, but in the confines of a big screen TV, it serves to bring the viewer right into the action. Granted, some of the quick editing and shaky camera work make a few of the fight scenes claustrophobic and confusing, but that seems to be the desired effect. There are a handful of deleted scenes (which are of much lower video quality and don't really add much to the plot; they are also all strung together - one cannot select individual deleted scenes), director's comment track, and some other production segments. I have not heard the director's commentary or examined the other documentaries, yet. One nitpick of the DVD is Universal's decision to add unskippable advertising at the beginning. One cannot press menu to escape; one is forced to fast forward through the useless ads.