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December 11, 2007

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DVD of the Week – The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

by HELEN GEIB

A good chase is one of the great pleasures of cinema and the Bourne trilogy boasts three superb examples. The chases are so good I would happily recommend the movies on that basis alone, even if they weren’t entertaining dramatic thrillers. While the superior story in The Bourne Identity makes it the best film of the three, the chases are equally, splendidly accomplished.

The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy car chases rival the Ronin chase. They’re that good, and the only chases of the last decade that are good enough to approach the standard set by Ronin. It’s a rewarding exercise to compare the chases in Identity and Supremacy because they are equally brilliant, yet entirely different. The differences beautifully capture the changes in story, tone, visual style, and Jason Bourne’s mental state from the first film to the second.

The Bourne Ultimatum also has a (relatively brief) car chase, but it is not the highlight chase sequence of the film. The story in Ultimatum follows directly upon the conclusion of Supremacy and the direction and performances reflect that continuity. I suspect it would have been impossible to equal, let alone top, the Supremacy car chase under those circumstances and the filmmakers wisely don’t try. The thrilling set piece of the film is instead the stunning foot chase through streets, alleys, and apartment buildings (and over their rooftops) in Tangiers.

The DVD includes a commentary by director Paul Greengrass and several rather interesting sounding features about filming different sequences. In case you want to catch up on the first two films and don’t already own them, you can also purchase Ultimatum as part of a trilogy threepack.

Other new releases this week: December Boys, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Interview


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 22 2007

    Is Identity really the best of the three? I found it to be dull and uncompelling. I heard the second was an improvement because it lacked that awful woman from the first, but I don’t know.

  2. Helen
    Dec 23 2007

    I can certainly see how you wouldn’t like The Bourne Identity if you disliked Franka Potente’s character (for me, she’s a highlight). Entirely aside from the merits of the love story, Identity is the best of the three because Supremacy and Ultimatum suffer from lazy writing in the agency subplots. All are good movies, but the sequels have plot points that just don’t work where Identity is consistently plausible. Fortunately, the fine performances (especially Joan Allen’s) and the focus on the better-written main story carry the second and third films over their rough patches.

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