At long last, here we have the third film in a sequence that is very good and is worthy of its predecessors. After a summer of Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, Shrek 3 (and X-Men 3 before that), it was getting quite depressing watching the third instalment of a film franchise. They were all long and boring and devoid of the magic that made the earlier films (or only the first, in the case of Pirates) special. The Bourne Ultimatum not only continues the special attributes of the previous films, but it builds on the story and enhances it.
Bourne (Matt Damon) has regained his memory, lost a love, revenged that loss, and obtained closure on the first assassination he performed. He was last seen telling Pamela Landey (Joan Allen) to take a rest after she has told him his name. However, this film starts just after Bourne has finished in Russia near the end of the second film – he is escaping the authorities while badly injured after the events that preceded it. Talk about starting with a bang.
A Guardian reporter is investigating Bourne and the Treadstone project, but his phone is being tapped by the CIA, which leads to him being targeted by them at the same time as Bourne contacts him to find out more. This leads to the best use of Waterloo station in a film ever. Bourne is now looking for the people who trained him to be the killer he became …
The amazing thing about this film is the way it keeps the tension all the way through the running time. The number of thrilling set pieces that maintain this is incredible. The direction by Greengrass, and the use of handheld cameras to bring the directness of the action to the screen, mean that the immediacy of the story is always there. This is matched by the commitment of Damon’s performance (in an action film, remember – the reinvention of the Bond franchise took careful notes when watching the Bourne films). This means that the excitement is believable, even if Bourne is almost superhuman in his abilities.
The other amazing aspect is to have the scene at the end of the second film turn up in the middle of this film – which leads to the final third of the film in New York. This is genius. The interconnection in the films has been important in all of them; they’re almost not a trilogy in the strictest sense – it’s just one big story with definite end points. Exciting, dramatic, tense, thrilling, superb – The Bourne Ultimatum is probably the best blockbuster of the season.