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Monday, 29 November 1999 18:00
Local opening date: 8/3/2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
As the great Sir Alfred Hitchcock proved several times, few plots offer more compelling fare than the innocent man on the run, desperate to reclaim his good name and decipher the unfathomable events swirling around and precipitated by him. The Jason Bourne franchise has parlayed this idea into three terrific films, added a dose of amnesia to sweeten the mix, and made him an astonishingly adept C.I.A. assassin.

This time out, in The Bourne Ultimatum, the chase continues, even accelerated from earlier installments, with fewer pauses for story. Less time is needed since the always brilliant Joan Allen again plays CIA agent Pamela Landy and Julia Stiles also returns as Nicky Parsons. But the film belongs to Matt Damon, in full flight, resourceful and fleet with a bag of tricks and a high octane brain.

Novelist Robert Ludlum created Bourne in his 1980 novel, The Bourne Identify, and the screen adaptations by Tony Gilroy develop a crucial, ironic element that keeps Bourne thoroughly, psychologically conflicted even when he isn't fighting physically for his life. Bourne has a conscience! Ironically, existentially, he can not remember his real identity but is haunted by his victims' faces and his own induction through tortures echoing those in today's news. This all makes Bourne a complex character instead of a marionette of a killer, intensifying tension in quiet scenes while never detracting from the visceral thrills. In fact, director Paul Greengrass, who also takes credit for The Bourne Supremacy and the gut-wrenching United 93, choreographs electrifying action superbly edited by Christopher Rouse.

I wouldn't dream of revealing the twists and turns, so suffice it to say that Greengrass loves panorama shots-of London, Madrid, Paris, New York, Tangiers, and Moscow. On-location work increases the impact as no computer effects can. The cities look like jigsaw pieces in this wondrous puzzle. Enhancing the intrigue, characters are shot through foreground objects partially obscuring the frame, a visual translation of murky motives of many including David Strathairn as government representative Noah Voss plus Scott Glenn and Albert Finney. The music and sound add another nerve jangling layer and the art direction contributes equally. The Bourne Ultimatum left me exhilarated and elated that a film can offer two hours of exciting, clever chases and have a heart and soul. At area cinemas.

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