U.S. Release Date: July 23, 2004
Distributor: Universal
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer: Tony Gilroy
Producer: Patrick Crowley, Doug Liman (executive), Frank Marshall
Composer: John Powell
Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Joan Allen, Michelle Monaghan, Chris Cooper (Cameo)
Running Time: 1 hour and 48 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for violence and intense action, and brief language)

Bourne Superior
by C.A. Wolski

When Hollywood gets it right, there is nothing better, and The Bourne Supremacy—released amidst a plethora of mediocre summer action flicks—illustrates this stunningly.

Picking up two years after the events of The Bourne Identity, ex-CIA super agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is hiding out peacefully with girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) in Goa, India. Other than still suffering from amnesia and haunted by fragmentary dreams of earlier missions, Bourne has settled into a kind of happy obscurity. In the meantime, a CIA mission in Berlin goes terribly wrong and all the clues point to Bourne as the triggerman. This sets CIA deputy director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) on a crusade to find Jason Bourne. Complicating matters is the fact that the actual killer, Kirill (Karl Urban), has been dispatched to kill Bourne, setting off a chain of events that brings the ex-agent out of hiding and face-to-face with old enemies and friends alike.

Like the first movie, The Bourne Supremacy is punctuated throughout with bursts of action from an improvised fight in a Munich townhouse to a foot chase in Berlin to a car chase in Moscow (the highlight of the movie). But there is more to Bourne than just action. Though the script by Tony Gilroy, loosely based on the novel by Robert Ludlum, has a fairly convoluted plot involving stolen CIA money and Russian oil leases, that's simply the means for the real purpose of the movie—Bourne's reclamation of his humanity—which makes Supremacy rise above the typical shoot'em-up-blow'em-up fare.

Unlike the first movie, Bourne is less of a physical presence and more of a specter. He is a haunted man who may have an idea about his identity as a CIA killer, but only possesses an echo of a human soul. He is not only a cipher to us and the CIA agents tracking him, but to himself.

To his credit, Damon does not play Bourne as a brooding psychopath but as a broken, sad man who acts out of necessity. This is not a joke and he doesn't play it like it is, giving both his performance and the situations in which Bourne finds himself a tension usually lacking in this genre.

The rest of the cast, headlined by Allen and Brian Cox (returning as CIA black ops man Ward Abbott) are equally as good, playing their more-than-meets-the-eye parts with a quiet gusto, taking any clichés in stride and making them their own.

With all it has going for it, Supremacy's main storyline is on the murky, "so-what?" side, and the main Russian villain Jarda (Martian Csokas) as nothing more than a cardboard cutout. But director Paul Greenglass (Bloody Sunday) makes us forget this and focuses on the most important element of the movie: Bourne.

There is no doubt that Matt Damon has found an excellent outlet for his talents, and, hopefully, The Bourne Supremacy will lead to more adventures in this visceral yet thoughtful franchise.

Casino Royale
New Bond Blunted
Miami Vice
Crockett and Tubbs Go Slumming
The Bourne Ultimatum
Third Bourne Satisfies
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Married Assassins Strictly a Current Affair
The Bourne Identity
A Star is Bourne
Mission: Impossible III
Do Not Accept This Mission