Film, Spies, Spy 100 Project

Spy 100, #16.3: The Bourne Ultimatum

March 31, 2014

The Bourne series concludes – well, sort of – in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), which is basically more of the same. This one kicks off when British journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) publishes an article about Treadstone, the CIA black op assassination program that created super-killer Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). But where did Ross get his information? Bourne wants to find out, but so do his enemy’s successors in the CIA, lead by Noah Vosen (David Straithern). The race is on as Bourne ricochets across the globe, pursuing the clues that can reveal the secrets of his past.

Like the second installment it’s more style than substance, an energetic melangé of action setpieces and tradecraft. The international location work takes us to Moscow, London, Madrid, Tangier, and New York, which gives the film a striking look – when the shaky-cam settles down enough to let you see it. Unfortunately, this segment is even more bereft of character than The Bourne Supremacy, a mechanistic, plot-driven episode with little heart and no sense of humor. The script makes a feeble try at character, by bringing back Bourne’s whipsmart foil in the CIA, Pam Landy (Joan Allen), and former Treadstone officer Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), with whom Bourne has a sparkless romance-under-fire flirtation. But ultimately this one is more about its ingredients – fights, chases, twists, and reveals – than the overall flavor profile.

It does, at least, provide some closure for the series, or at least for Matt Damon’s participation in it. But other than that, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

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