The Bourne Supremacy Review

Adam Khelah, Staff Writer

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With the release of “Treadstone,” a Jason Bourne spin off TV show, right around the corner I thought it would be a great time to talk about one of my favorite movies of all time: “The Bourne Supremacy.” I believe “The Bourne Supremacy,” and the Bourne Trilogy in general, rank up there as some of the best action thrillers ever produced. Why? Not only did these films revitalize the action genre, but they are some of the most intelligent action movies to exist.

Director Paul Greengrass popularized a new way of shooting action scenes in this movie. Shaky cam. Some people have criticized this style. Myself included. This technique has ruined so many action movies. Filmmakers have copied this style to sickening results. In “Taken 3” there was literally 15 cuts in a six second period for Liam Neeson climbing a fence. It’s pretty bad. But here it isn’t just a series of mindless cuts or shaky footage to hide bad stunt work. There’s thought behind everything.

Our main character, played by Matt Damon, is an amnesiac former assassin on the run from his own government. He’s constantly making choices. He’s constantly paranoid that someone might be out to kill him. The shaky camera work puts us right in his shoes. It feels like we’re right there with him.

         But that’s not the only reason I love this movie. Action movies are stupid. Now there’s nothing wrong with a good old stupid action movie. I love movies like “Con Air” “The Transporter” and “Crank.” It’s just that so many action movies try to be serious and flat out fail. “The Bourne Supremacy” is one of the most intelligent action movies out there.

Take one of my favorite scenes. A foot chase where Jason Bourne is evading the police. Bourne needs to take a train to escape the city. In most movies the train would take off as soon as the main character jumps on board.  But guess what? The train doesn’t leave for another five minutes! The police are closing in! So what does he do! He tricks the police into thinking he’s on a barge so he can stall for time. That’s pretty smart! By adding that into the action sequence it adds a new level of intensity to the scene. 

I’m so tired of the mindless shooting and fighting sequences in movies these days. Paul Greengrass himself stated in the DVD commentary that “a chase only works if it’s telling a story, if it’s got beats within it that unfold.” I completely agree. Action sequences like dialogue sequences need good writing. Otherwise I’m just watching things moving around quickly on a screen. And that’s boring.

         This movie in intelligent, but it also has something a lot of action films these days does not. A heart.

Jason Bourne is not a good person. He’s killed a lot of people. Yet in these movies he always tries to do the right thing. He’s not a killing machine. He’s not John Wick. He doesn’t endlessly kill rooms full of people emotionlessly walk away. The killing isn’t glorified. It’s brutal. Ugly. Whenever he does kill someone, the movie always takes a moment to watch Bourne gasp for his breath. It has an impact. Now there are some movies that do this, but there are few that do what I’m about to say next.

In this movie Bourne learns that on his first assignment he killed a young girl’s parents and made it look like a suicide. This girl grew up believing her parents killed themselves and left her an orphan. After Bourne remembers what he did, he sets out to tell this woman the truth about her parents. He literally sits her down and looks right in her eyes and says to her, “I killed them.”

Now that is something that could not be easy to do. Name another action movie hero who takes responsibility like that.  James Bond? John Wick? Ethan Hunt? John Mcclane? Nope.

Not to mention right before this scene there was a brutal car chase. Bourne literally gets shot through the shoulder and almost killed. Why did he go through all that? It wasn’t to save the world. It wasn’t simply to escape. He went through all that simply to tell a young woman the truth. This alone puts Jason Bourne in a league of his own.

The Bourne Supremacy stands out to me as one of the greatest action thrillers ever made. Honestly the last two installments “The Bourne Legacy” and “Jason Bourne” have not been up to par. I’m still waiting for something to top it. Maybe the new TV show will? I’ll just have just have to see.

        

Rating (5/5) 

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