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5.0 out of 5 stars The Bourne Trilogy (Blu-ray), January 30, 2009
This review is from: The Bourne Trilogy (The Bourne Identity / The Bourne Supremacy / The Bourne Ultimatum) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
(Update 08/11/2012: Knowing what I know now, I've completely rewritten my reviews for the box set and individual titles from scratch, which might make some of the comments obsolete. But in exchange, I hope this review seems more in-depth now).

(Note: Since I can't fit all 3 individual reviews into one entry, I've essentially condensed it down to a general overview of the plot, A/V specs and presentation, and only a list of the special features for each. The numbers you see don't necessarily equate to technical perfection, but those are the average numbers based on each movie and rounded up to the nearest whole or half number. To read the individual reviews, use the links below).

Movie - 5.0

The first time I ever saw this film series was from a total blind-buy. Previously, I never even wanted to touch it because I had this stupid, unexplainable bias against Matt Damon. To this day, I still can't remember why I had such feelings, but I'm glad I got over it, because The Bourne Trilogy is a masterfully-executed story that has changed the face of spy-thriller movies forever. The Bourne Identity starts with the discovery of a man found overboard. He has two gunshot wounds in his back, a Swiss bank account in his hip, and no immediate recollection of who he is. Coincidentally, upon reaching the mainland it seems that he's a master in firearms and fisticuffs when he instinctively disables a couple of poor police officers that just happened to mess with the wrong guy. When he gets to the Swiss bank, he finds a deposit box with a passport and his name: Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). But to his surprise, there's a slew of other passports with the same picture and different names, in addition to lots of cash and even a handgun. Upon setting out to Paris, he meets a woman named Marie (Franka Potente), and the two of them would go on to face assassins and conspiracies while uncovering answers to who he is.

In The Bourne Supremacy, we find the two in Goa living a life of peace after managing to escape pursuit. Meanwhile, an operation in Berlin to uncover a mole amongst the top CIA brass, led by Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), goes south when a Russian federal agent, Kirill (Karl Urban), infiltrates the deal and takes out the informant while leaving a fingerprint of Bourne to cover his tracks. When Kirill attempts to find Bourne and assassinate him, Marie is killed in his stead. And in a rage of anger, Bourne decides to aspire vengeance on all those who had been chasing him. But in the process, he would discover a few more things about his past that would change him for the better.

And in The Bourne Ultimatum, after a British reporter named Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) discovers a new Treadstone replacement agency called Blackbriar, led by Director Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), Bourne figures to find the source of Ross' information so he can finally get the answers he'd been searching for, as well as putting an end to these agencies. Upon Ross' assassination, Bourne instills the aid of former Treadstone handler Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) and receives the benefit of the doubt from Pamela Landy as he makes his way back home to New York and discovers the truth to everything he had forgotten.

The Bourne movie franchise has made quite the name for itself. In the hands of Doug Liman, he not only managed to introduce an interesting character with a lot of mystery and intrigue to his background, but also a character we were able to sympathize for. He was a character that lost his memory, re-discovered himself, then tried to leave his dark past behind and escape a corrupt system. After Paul Greengrass took the reigns, he improved what Liman left on the table, further exposing the humanistic side of this character as we see him lose the part of his life he cares about the most. But despite that loss, his humanity would prove to be stronger than his vengeance as even more memories started to surface, making his journey for revenge turn into a search for redemption. And after finding his inner peace, he takes pursuit of those responsible in an effort to destroy the very system that had created him and brought about so much pain and suffering, not only to him, but to many of those involved throughout its history. At this point, I think it's safe to say that Matt Damon's portrayal of Jason Bourne has really cemented itself amongst the iconic spy heroes (next to James Bond and maybe Bryan Mills from Taken).

Video - 5.0

- Video codec: VC-1
- Video resolution: 1080p
- Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, 2.35:1
- Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

The video quality of the series is pretty much perfect aside from the first one. In my initial review a few years ago, I said I wasn't pleased with Identity, but did a pretty crappy job explaining it. After reading up on the technicalities of film-making since then, I've gotten a much better grasp on how to explain and describe these things. That being said, Identity looks very good in terms of black levels, colors, and sharpness. Looking at a lot of the outdoor shots, especially, and a few indoor, the picture retains enough detail that it makes for a pleasant image for the trilogy's initial entry in HD. However, it does suffer from low contrast, giving it a somewhat murky look, and there are several occasions when dirt and a couple of scratches from print damage pop up. It's not terribly distracting, but it is noticeable.

Supremacy, on the other hand, is a major step up. With the changing of director in Paul Greengrass, he gave the image a much more vibrant look that better accentuates all of the aforementioned qualities. Blacks are darker, colors are much more vivid, contrast is better-balanced, and the sharpness is even sharper. Just looking at the beginning scenes in Goa, there's a tremendous amount of color that really adds more life, and the rest of the movie follows accordingly. Some people say the saturation is a little too high, but I'm in the belief that it was intentional since Grengrass is such a visualist. And there's also a good amount of film grain as well, which again, I believe is intentional. So unless you don't like the color timing or are a grain-hater, then those are about the only problems you might have. Finally, Ultimatum has the same kind of photography, only with a difference of intensity. Supremacy ran a little hot in terms of color, but I feel it added to the overall tone of the film itself (Bourne getting hot and angry for revenge, hence the hot look to the picture). However, Ultimatum is essentially where things come full circle and the adventure ends. Because of that, this is probably about as "normal" of a color level as you'll get. So there you have it. Aside from the first movie, there's not much else to complain about.

Audio - 5.0

- English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- French: DTS 5.1
- Spanish: DTS 5.1

- English SDH, French, Spanish

Again, aside from Identity, the audio is just about perfect. All three movies use the DTS-HD MA codec, and all of them sound fantastic. The only problem with Identity isn't so much the quality, but the quantity. As in the film itself just isn't as heavily-mixed as the others. In his commentary, Doug Liman stressed how he wanted to make Identity a drama first and an action movie second. Because of this, I think it reflects in the sound mix. The actual depth and quality to the track itself is pretty buoyant in terms of separation and directionality and gets especially aggressive during the fight with the first Treadstone agent. Rear speaker activity also gets a really good workout during the car chase sequence when cars start turning the corners. And dynamic range is excellent in the scene where Bourne is fighting Clive Owen's character outside the farmhouse.

Additionally, when Greengrass takes over as director for the sequels, the audio gets a tremendous upgrade, just as the video did. Even for as low-key as the opening scenes are in Supremacy, the dynamic depth alone is noticeably louder and more precise. Action sequences offer up even more aggressive mixing such as the fight between Bourne and the last remaining Treadstone agent. This scene in particular displays a very exact design that has no music and does a great job isolating its sound effects into the confines of that small, compact area, adding an extra layer of ferocity and tension to it. And the car chase in Moscow towards the end is brimming with activity as the vehicles skid, crash, and break all over the place. But even still, Ultimatum manages to top that. Immersion is outstanding from the crowd noise for the scene at Waterloo Station, isolation is more intense in the fight between Bourne and Desh, and the car chase in New York is a sonic masterpiece of mayhem and music. By the way, John Powell's score is another big factor to the overall sound of these films. His string and percussion works really help to compliment the storytelling that even exudes a subtle amount of LFEs through his awesome drum pieces. Outside from the one minor issue with Identity, all of these films sound superb.

Extras - 4.0

There are quite a bit of extras, but if I were to highlight just one feature from each movie, I'd say at the very least(!) give the audio commentaries a listen. And if you like technical stuff, the U-Control Picture in Picture for Supremacy is well-worth a watch as well.

The Bourne Identity:

- Audio Commentary (Director Doug Liman)
- The Ludlum Identity (SD; 12:49)
- The Ludlum Supremacy (SD; 12:41)
- The Ludlum Ultimatum (SD; 23:57)
- Alternate Opening and Ending (SD; 10:46 altogether)
- Deleted Scenes (SD; 6:58)
- Extended Farmhouse Scene (0:58)
- The Birth of the Bourne Identity (SD; 14:31)
- The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum (SD; 5:44)
- Access Granted: An Interview with Co-Writer Tony Gilroy (SD; 4:03)
- From Identity to Supremacy: Jason & Marie (SD; 3:37)
- The Bourne Diagnosis (SD; 3:25)
- Cloak and Dagger: Covert Ops (SD; 5:31)
- Inside a Fight Sequence (SD; 4:42)
- Moby "Extreme Ways" Music Video (SD; 3:38)
- U-Control

The Bourne Supremacy:

- Audio Commentary (Director Paul Greengrass)
- Explosive Deleted Scenes (SD; 10:46)
- Matching Identities: Casting (SD; 5:23)
- Keeping it Real (SD; 4:58)
- Blowing Things Up (SD; 4:00)
- On the Move with Jason Bourne (SD; 4:45)
- Bourne to be Wild: Fight Training (SD; 4:21)
- Crash Cam: Racing Through the Streets of Moscow (SD; 5:58)
- The Go-Mobile Revs Up the Action (SD; 6:49)
- Anatomy of a Scene: The Explosive Bridge Chase Scene (SD; 4:40)
- Scoring with John Powell (SD; 4:46)
- The Bourne Mastermind (Part 2) (SD; 4:42)
- The Bourne Diagnosis (Part 2) (SD; 5:39)
- U-Control

The Bourne Ultimatum:

- Audio Commentary (Director Paul Greengrass)
- Deleted Scenes (SD; 12:22)
- Be Bourne Spy Training
- Man on the Move: Jason Bourne (SD; 23:58 altogether)
- Roof Pursuit (SD; 5:39)
- Planning the Punches (SD; 4:59)
- Driving School (SD; 3:23)
- New York Chase (SD; 10:46)
- U-Control

Overall - 5.0

So there you have it. If you've read my individual reviews for these movies, there's not much else I can say. The Bourne Trilogy is one of the best in its genre, and I'm really thankful for its influence in a lot of other recent entries (the Daniel Craig Bond movies and Liam Neeson's roles in both Taken and Unknown). It refreshed the genre with a mix of mystery, grit, and emotional depth that has really raised the standard. This box set is a very good deal, and I'm glad I made that blind-buy when I did. The A/V specs are essentially perfect outside of the first film, and they're all chock full of meaningful special features. If you haven't seen these films yet, make the time. You won't regret it.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 14, 2009 6:19:18 AM PDT
APC Reviews says:
Reviewer hasn't a clue what they are talking about when it comes to the relationship of the age of the film and the quality of the transfer... The amount of ignorance out there about cinematography, materials, film stocks and transfer methods is appalling...

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2009 7:27:33 AM PDT
Parkman says:
Why don't you set the record straight?

Posted on Jul 19, 2009 7:16:00 PM PDT
The age of the film should make little difference to the quality of transfer to blu ray, at least when you are talking about movies made in the this decade. The negative film itself can achieve resolutions better than 6,000 lines and a projection positive film is about 2,000 lines. So if the scans are done well, you should see little difference between the three movies.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2009 2:18:37 PM PST
A Customer says:
Wrong; every film brings something different to the party. I think the set looks great anyway although each film gets better in order. Blu-ray is not an equalizer.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2010 5:06:22 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 15, 2010 5:07:34 AM PDT
Dino P says:
I took the reviewer as saying that there was a general progression in quality from the first to the last film, not necessarily due to age difference but possibly to other factors such as increased budgets and loftier standards, which has resulted in the aforementioned improvements in the BD's.

Another example would be the Die Hard quadrilogy - the last one looks eye-poppingly good as a BD (to my amateur eye anyway), but probably not due just to it's being the youngest. I think they really paid huge attention to the lighting, colour schemes etc when they made the movie, to make each frame a polished artwork, and it shows on the BD. And let's face it, the movie needed to look slick to compensate for the relatively weak story and villain.

I certainly agree with you that older movies can look good (if that's what you're saying) - North by Northwest is a stunning example.

Posted on Sep 20, 2011 1:43:36 PM PDT
Bernie Weisz says:
Tony: I think you did an excellent job of summing up in your own words how you felt about this box set! Continue reviewing products/books, and ignore negative feedback critiquing your review above. People will always put you down, even if what you wrote is in fact true or well written...which it certainly is! If those who criticize you feel so strongly about nitpicking about what you have to say, why don't they try reviewing the product themselves? Personally, I have always run my affairs and life in general whereupon if I have nothing good to say about a person or event...or anything for that matter, I say nothing at all. Disparagement only hurts people and their feelings, and there is enough negativity in this world without adding to it! Excellent summation of the "Bourne Trilogy" and I have purchased it based on your comments. Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2011 10:16:27 PM PDT
Thanks, Bernie. I don't claim to be any kind of film aficionado, but I am interested in learning about the industry in general and initially wrote this review with very little knowledge. At the time, I just reviewed it how it looked to me and have learned a lot more since then. I've read up on cinematography in general, the process of restoration and mastering, and all of that other stuff in the meantime and would like to redo this review (along with some of my others) at some point when I can make the time. But I appreciate all the positive and constructive feedback from everyone. Thanks, again.

Posted on Aug 25, 2012 7:49:31 PM PDT
BigMamou says:
OK, I'm still confused...........there are 4 different blu-ray Bourne trilogy sets listed here on amazon - 2 named "The Bourne Trilogy" but 2 different years of issue, another one named "The Ultimate Bourne Collection Trilogy" and last but not least, "The Jason Bourne Trilogy" as a steelbook edition. They all vary widely in price but seem to be all the same nevertheless. What am I missing here and which one is the most desirable from a features and viewing quality standpoint, price notwithstanding?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2012 5:14:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 26, 2012 5:19:02 AM PDT
Okay, here's the first one:

The Bourne Trilogy (The Bourne Identity / The Bourne Supremacy / The Bourne Ultimatum) [Blu-ray]
This was the initial box set released in the U.S. It came with a magnetically-sealed collector's box and all three movies as single discs (not dual-sided BD/DVD flippers like the individual releases). The retail was $119.98 and I believe it might be out of print now, but Amazon with its occasional tendency for goofups still has it listed for sale. This first print box set is what I wrote about in my review and is region free.


The Bourne Trilogy (The Bourne Identity / The Bourne Supremacy / The Bourne Ultimatum) [Blu-ray]
This is the re-release of the series, but without the fancy magnetic box. It's basically just a cardboard slipbox that houses all three films with an open spine, whereas the fancy magnetic one actually opened up like a book. The three films are the exact same single disc, non-flipper versions from the first box.


The Ultimate Bourne Collection Trilogy
This is the U.K. version of the box set. For a while when the initial fancy-box printing came out in the U.S., this version was the cheapest one to get. It is also region free, but as all U.K. movies do, it has that little ratings icon in the corner, which some people find visually unappealing. I have no idea how it compares to the U.S. version, but I've heard it's at least on par in terms of A/V quality. Not sure about the extras, though. If the rating icon on the artwork doesn't bug you, want to save a few dollars, and don't mind waiting a little longer, this version could be for you.


Jason Bourne Trilogy Steelbook
This is the French version. It's a Steelbook, obviously, but everything is also written in French. I believe they are region free discs as well, but seeing as how the cover is written in French, the menus might be in French as well. So if you really like the Steelbook look, but don't mind everything being in French, want to pay more, and want to wait longer, then get this one.

I hope that explains most of it.

Posted on May 7, 2013 10:05:35 AM PDT
Are any of the blu rays in this box set the extended edition? I know that there is an extended edition for the first movie (I don't know about the others). Knowing this would help me decide if I want to buy this box set. Thanks in advance.
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