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Living with new identities in a seaside village in Goa, Jason Bourne and Marie (Matt Damon and Franka Potente) are forced out of hiding when Jason spies a spy (Karl Urban) spying on them. His cover blown, he takes Marie and drives off, with the mysterious spy in hot pursuit. It's not until he discovers that he has been framed from the inside, for a CIA operation that was double crossed. As tantalising pieces of his memory return to build a picture of the trauma that caused his amnesia, Bourne again relies on his skills as a trained assassin to survive, as he hunts the very team that spawned him - at the same time searching for a way to redeem himself.

Review by Andrew L Urban:
Is it perhaps the largely European settings, or the absence of an evil mastermind about to destroy the world ... the Bourne films (so far two) are far more engaging and credible than most action thrillers. Is it that Matt Damon is so unlikely a killer that his performance as an assassin is totally credible? Or is it maybe the writing? Well, yes, and good storytelling from the novel to the screenplay, is certainly in evidence. The baddies here are uncovered for what they are: venal little greedy bastards. But even here, we have terrific, complex characterisations, including an action cameo from Marton Csokas, the second New Zealander, along with Karl Urban, in this picture.

No, Jason's biggest enemy is his conscience, once it's prodded by the return of memories that suggest he may have had to kill an innocent person - collateral damage of the worst kind. This is the emotional anchor for the character and hence the action. It also paves the way to a satisfying payoff for Jason's redemption, which is handled with great restraint, honesty and sentiment, and not a moment of schmalz. (And features that wonderful young actress Oksana Akinshina, who played the title role in Lukas Moodysson's Lilya 4-Ever.)

There is plenty of action, including the opening chase with its deadly, unexpected climax, and a sensational car chase to rival anything on screen for sheer adrenalin-charged pace. Editing elsewhere is also notably good, as is the score. Excellent locations, production design and a snappy script takes us into the world of espionage with its clandestine mood, its uncertainties and its paranoias. Joan Allen delivers a nicely balanced CIA middle manager with a handful of trouble, and Brian Cox is richly engaging as a veteran operator anxious to hang on to office until retirement, no matter what the cost.

Julia Stiles pops up as a small-time assistant to Bourne from the past, and I suspect she will pop up in the next film, too. This role was an introductory effort, and much too small to be left undeveloped.

And finally, director Paul Greengrass has flattered Doug Liman (director of The Bourne Supremacy and producer of both) by stylistically imitating much of the first film. And that's not a bad thing.

The Bourne Supremacy confirms the Bourne franchise is strong: it combines action, character and some well observed aspects of the human condition for a rounded and satisfying movie, made with great technical skill.

The filmmakers have gone all out on the DVD with a diverse menu of great features. There are deleted scenes, making of specials, a director commentary and features that look at the execution of the stunts, choreography of the fight scenes, pyrotechnical sequences and the rush of being in the driver's seat of a go-mobile during the high-speed exploits.

Published December 16, 2004

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CAST: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Gabriel Mann, Joan Allen, Marton Csokas, Tom Gallop, Oksana Akinshina

PRODUCER: Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall, Paul Sandberg

DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass

SCRIPT: Tony Gilroy (novel by Robert Ludlum)


EDITOR: Richard Pearson, Christopher Rouse

MUSIC: John Powell


RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes; Matching identities; casting; keep it real; Blowing Things Up: Virtual isn't always better; On the move with Jason Bourne; Bourne to be Wild: Fight Training; Crash cam: Racing through the streets of Moscow; The Go-Mobile Revs Up the Action; Anatomy of a Scene; Scoring with John Powell; Paul Greengrass Commentary


DVD RELEASE: December 15, 2004

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