A review of “The Bourne Ultimatum” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for intense action and violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes



Matt Damon has found his winning formula and he’s sticking to it. As amnesiac super-agent Jason Bourne Damon successfully fronts a full-throttle action thriller that’s the culmination of a smashing trilogy.

As always Bourne is on the run – intent on avenging the loss of his victims and trying in his own immutable way to apologize for his past. Seems Bourne’s brainwashing is backfiring; in fleeting snatches of memory he’s re-living his past, those murky days when his average Joe was on the cusp of enduring high-profile CIA assassination training and the supplemental sticky wickets.

Those kodachrome recollections kick-start a mission as Bourne seeks to reclaim himself from himself. “Someone started all of this and I’m going to find him” he says. Believe it.

Paranoia runs rampant; scene after scene is fraught with kinetic hyper-tension. Umbrella programs, black ops, top-secret clearances and covert operations all serve to undermine a trained killing machine in desperate need of a home.

Each face in the crowd is suspect and the hills have eyes. As Bourne closes in on his reality he butts up against the powers that be – project co-conspirator Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) and ball-busting CIA investigator Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) – and continually and satisfyingly beats them at their own game.

Paul Greengrass (“United 93”) is a smart directorial choice – his snappy docu-style perfectly in keeping with the manic energy Damon brings to his never-say-die rogue agent. Who takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’ through hails of bullets and blazing firestorms. His more than nine lives are genuinely implausible; who deliberately drives off a rooftop and lives to tell the tale? But credibility isn’t an issue as each sequence outdoes the next for sheer bravado and extravagant entertainment. One mano-a-mano fight scene positively pulsates with dread while an extended chase sequence leaves puddles of perspiration in its wake.

“Bourne” is an international affair and its hero switches continents with sophisticated ease. London, Madrid, Moscow, Tangiers, Paris, New York – the frequent flier miles pile up with alacrity.

There are more than a few nods to the current administration’s cover-ups, lending a fresh, contemporary feel to the proceedings. Damon proves once and for all that Bourne is his signature role -- what’s not to love?