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THE BOURNE SUPREMACY
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)

A Bland Sequel is Bourne
by Scott Holleran

Not quite picking up where the exciting original, The Bourne Identity, left off, The Bourne Supremacy deposits runaway lovers Marie (Franka Potente) and Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) somewhere in India, still pondering his true identity, leafing through notes and sketches and looking over their shoulders for armed and dangerous remnants of the Treadstone project.

Of course, this restarts the same theme as the first picture—based on Robert Ludlum's trilogy of novels—puts the couple in serious jeopardy and means an assassin cannot be far off. Jason Bourne jogging on the foreign beach with the conspicuousness of an off-duty Navy S.E.A.L. doesn't help.

A main character is killed within minutes and this drains the picture of its purpose. The story does not recover, though Joan Allen as Pam Landy, a tough-minded intelligence agent looking into the shenanigans of the previous picture's Chris Cooper crowd, adds an interesting twist, though in her flowing blond wig and black turtleneck she's a bit glamorous for Langley subculture.

While Landy is trying to uncover top secrets—joined and blocked by Nicky (Julia Stiles) and Abbott (Brian Cox)—Bourne is still tormented by flashbacks and the central question seems to be was he or was he not on assignment in Berlin? The query is not exactly begging for an answer and, deprived of the original's pending romantic value, The Bourne Supremacy does not reign supreme.

Neither does it maintain momentum, losing track of Bourne amid nasty Russians, Landy's investigation and the most incompetent assassin in Europe. Lacking clear character motivation—and replacing the first movie's techno-rock with Indian drums—the plot stalls. Building to a dual conclusion with a car chase and a character's mea culpa, it's missing the proper payoff. In fact, the admission of wrongdoing, while dramatic, is a traumatic moment for the recipient, which undercuts its effectiveness.

Using a neat new trick called a go-mobile, director Paul Greengrass goes inside the cars for camera angles from the inside out and, at some point, everything blurs, jerks and jumps and it isn't the least bit comprehensible precisely when it should be. When the camera goes bananas, the eyes glaze over and stop tracking what is happening on screen.

That's not good for achieving a satisfactory conflict resolution and this explains the fizzle factor after a tunnel crash scene that seems to take forever to accomplish and then sort of sits there. But Miss Allen's character, a partial ally to the wayward Bourne, provides a different angle from inside the government, and Marton Csokas as Jarda turns in a nice if brief appearance.

With enough to satiate the spy thriller fan, The Bourne Supremacy does pull off some moments, but it is markedly inferior to its predecessor.


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