The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) Director: Paul Greengrass

“Look at us. Look at what they make you give.”

★★★★★

Shockingly, The Bourne Ultimatum is anything but a tired, slumping sequel. It is the perfect example of a continuing franchise series done right. In a way, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum represent two separate parts of a singular story, with both being directed by Paul Greengrass. The quick cut action scenes in Ultimatum are more refined and sharper than they were in Supremacy, and the background of our amnesiac protagonist Jason Bourne is further revealed as well as other characters such as Nicky Parsons played by Julia Stiles.

The plot of Bourne Ultimatum picks immediately where Supremacy left off. Bourne (once again reprised by Matt Damon) is chased by Moscow police after killing the assassin from the previous film. Meanwhile, back at Langley CIA Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) shares the tape exposing Abbott and the Treadstone program, at the same time that a British journalist of the Guardian named Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) meets with a leak to learn about Treadstone, its successor program Blackbriar, and Bourne. Following his publications, both the CIA and Bourne begin tracking Ross. In one of the many great scenes in the film, Bourne meets Ross at the crowded Waterloo train station in London but Ross is picked off by a sniper sent by the CIA which is now headed by a combative CIA director named Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) as well as Pamela Landy.

Bourne discovers the identity of Ross’s source, a CIA operative in Madrid, and when he arrives he finds a friend in a lower level operative he once knew from the early days of Treadstone, Nicky Parsons (apparently the two were once romantically entangled). They follow the operative to Tangier which leads to an utterly iconic, nail-biting street chase and rooftop battle through the streets of Tangier which ends in a brutal killing of a CIA assassin sent after them. Nicky is forced into hiding while Bourne discovers the address of the Blackbriar program in New York City which leads him straight to Vosen’s office in a series of break-neck action sequences that actually overlap with the events of Supremacy. Pamela Landy reveals to Bourne that his true name is “David Webb” and that his birth date is actually (“4-15-71”) which is later revealed to be the address of an abandoned hospital at 415 East 71st Street where the Treadstone operation began. Bourne tricks the CIA team and infiltrates this facility managed by Dr. Hirsch (Albert Finney). Bourne gains further knowledge of himself, being a former soldier and volunteer for Treadstone, until he is chased to the top of the building (while held at gunpoint he reiterates the dying words of Clive Owen’s character in The Bourne Identity “Look at us. Look at what they make you give”). Bourne is then shot by Vosen as he leaps off the building into the East River far below. After a long pause with Bourne’s body bobbing in the water much like in the opening scenes of The Bourne Identity, a series of news reports reveal a criminal investigation of the CIA leading to the arrests of Vosen and Hirsch, and the closure of Operation Blackbriar. However, the body of Bourne was never found. At the end, we see Nicky watching the news program. She smiles knowing that Bourne has escaped as we see a clip of Bourne swimming away.

The Bourne Ultimatum is simply far too good of an action thriller. In the 2000’s, the Bourne series could do not wrong, finding praise among both audiences and critics alike.

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