The Bourne Supremacy (2004) Review

The Bourne Supremacy (2004) Director: Paul Greengrass

“They don’t make mistakes. They don’t do random.
There’s always an objective. Always a target.”


The second installment of the brilliant Bourne trilogy was directed by Paul Greengrass, rather than Doug Liman who directed the original, and while the narrative of the sequel is successfully carried over from the original, The Bourne Supremacy significantly escalates the intensity and action especially on the cutting room floor where we see very few moments in the movie lasting longer than a few seconds. It is replete with quick cuts and high-octane energy. The shaky, documentarian-style of cinematography is perfected in The Bourne Supremacy, as a rejection of typical Hollywood rules and expectations. Today, this realist style of camera-work has become something of a Hollywood cliche but that is largely owing to the success of the Bourne franchise.

The Bourne Supremacy opens with an assassin (Karl Urban) hunting down Bourne (Matt Damon) and Marie (Franka Potente) who are living in exile in India. Ultimately the job is botched in a high stakes car chase scene and Marie is mistakenly killed instead of Bourne. The assassin was hired by a Russian oligarch but Bourne suspects Treadstone has resurfaced and ordered a hit on him. These events take place two years after The Bourne Identity. Meanwhile, Bourne has been framed for killing a pair of CIA agents in Berlin –a single fingerprint belonging to him is found at the crime scene. Bourne follows a trail of discovery and revenge that leads him to a team of deep state bureaucrats co-led by Abbott (Brian Cox), the former head of Treadstone in the previous film, as well as Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) a CIA director who is interested in getting to the bottom of the recent Russian robbery in Berlin as well as learning about the Treadstone program. The two play opposing roles on the them: one hoping to cover his own tracks, the other suspiciously piecing together what happened. The trail unsurprisingly leads to Abbott who is revealed to be a double-crosser, he initially orchestrated the hit on Bourne and Marie to cover up his own machinations. He worked with the Russian oligarch to steal millions of dollars in Berlin and blame the attack on Bourne (under the hope that Bourne would be assassinated). Bourne secretly records a tape of Abbott admitting the full story which he later delivers to Landy thus exonerating himself and leading to the suicide of Abbott.

Rather than desperately searching for his own identity as in The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne now has become a confident and capable mercenary, a ghost in the shadows ceaselessly outsmarting a totalitarian intelligence apparatus in possession of seemingly unlimited resources. There is also an apologetic tone to the movie as Bourne feels remorse for past injustices he committed on behalf of the CIA. Piecing together vague memories of his life, Bourne apologizes to the daughter of a Russian couple (Vladimir Neski) he murdered many years prior. Lastly, Julia Stiles makes an appearance as a former CIA operative, someone whom Bourne feels he can trust. Throughout Supremacy, Bourne is looking for redemption. However, the CIA is not portrayed as purely evil in this installment –there is still hope in a defiant, upstanding leader like Pamela Landy who merely seeks integrity and justice. Strangely enough, she and Jason Bourne are both heroes in the film while the American intelligence behemoth is the true villain.

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