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The Bourne Supremacy | Review

Bourne Again

Change in director makes for a franchise that’s hardly contagious.

Here comes the latest installment from the Robert Ludlum novels which Universal has catered to the testosterone-pumped summer crowds who rather than robots, flying saucers and forest fires prefer a couple of good old-fashion car chase scenes filtered through CIA operatives. While the same actors climb back into the ring for the sequel, this time it comes packaged under the direction of promising director who helmed 2002’s Bloody Sunday. Although Paul Greengrass’s first exploration into the heavy action genre shows a willingness to modify the look – the changes hardly liven up the repeated, sometimes hard-to-understand-the-character-motive screenplay.

Just when he thought he was out — they pull him back in! Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne just wants to chill out with his girl at the beach, but oddly enough while he is working on his tan he is also getting caught in a web which is one part frame-up job and other part a murder contract on his life. The cold war is over –but those feisty old Russians are up to their old ways again as they play some switch-a roo game with somebody’s fingerprint. For some reason the expert CIA staff that do a great job at tracking down people – have the hardest of times figuring out who the real culprits are. This time tough woman-in-command played by Joan Allen (The Notebook) leads the charge with old Bourne boss played by Brian Cox (Troy) just aching to sink his teeth in the world traveler. Say bye bye to the girlfriend and hello to Bourne’s angry look. For the most part, the film globetrots around following Bourne on a European tour. What occurs is a cat-and-mouse game where the mouse has the distinct advantage over the cats. The Bourne Supremacy shows whose on top.


As with his last feature, Greengrass gives this film a distinctive look where every sequence is kept in a constantly shifting camera movement. While this constant panning movements works especially well in the numerous chase sequences that feature Damon on foot, on subways and yellow taxi cabs,– the same shooting technique seems inappropriate for low intensity boardroom meetings where the there is very little action except perhaps a finger typing into a keyboard. The pace of the film seems to be in overdrive for the entire film even when the film is only in first gear. Thanks to a quick editing which feels like a chopped-up montage, the pace of the film doesn’t allow the viewer to appreciate the beautiful choice in locations or the interesting camera angles perched from above and from all directions. One wonders why such a momentum is kept up through-out the film – perhaps to redirect the viewer’s attention away from a Bourne who comes across even more flat than the first installment. While Damon does his usual great job at defying physics and dealing with his post-concussion syndrome, he seems to falter in providing his character with the sort of Charles Bronson-I’m-very-unhappy-look –- something which was embedded in fellow amnesic Guy Pearce’s character in Memento. Surprisingly, Franka Potente’s (Run Lola Run) character is sorely missed here – leaving the viewer with the lone wolf and not much of a subplot. Greengrass does manage to keep the best for last – the car chase sequence in Russia is better than the beefed-up Matrix follies we saw a couple of season’s back but what this sequel ultimately reveals is that there was not much material to begin with.

Like Doug Liman (the helmer behind the first film), it seems that the transition into more of a mainstream fair seems to be the questionable choice for Greengrass. The Bourne Supremacy is missing several elements that made The Bourne Identity seem more complete and more gritty and potentially this next spy franchise of the new millennium. This feature just does a follow-up job without raising the intensity level or the interest level and instead the viewer gets lost in a plot that doesn’t count and wanders off into thinking how Bourne finds everyone’s personal cellphone numbers but can’t manage to remember what he did or didn’t do a couple of years back.

Rating 1.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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