As my wife has mentioned many times before, Matt Damon is a good looking man. She also mentions his lovely smile. Well, you won’t see Damon’s pearly whites in The Bourne Supremacy, but you will see why he’s one of the most talented actors of his generation. Forget about his buddy Ben Affleck, Damon knows how to capture the audience’s attention with his talent not his girlfriends.
When Paula Landy’s (Joan Allen) CIA sting ends terribly, the few clues left behind lead her to believe Jason Bourne (Damon) has ended his retirement. Her subsequent investigation of Bourne uncovers the closed Operation “Treadstone” and opens doors that others wish to remain sealed.
Hundreds of miles away, the real Jason Bourne enjoys a peaceful yet cautious life with Marie (Franka Potente). Unbeknownst to him, a Russian Kingpin and an American traitor plan on making Jason Bourne’s retirement, permanent. After the hired assassin Kirill (Karl Urban) attempts to kill him, a resulting tragedy propels Bourne back towards the mysterious life that haunts his nights.
Bourne Identity director Doug Lyman brought us a thriller that was restrained until action was warranted. When the action began, it was relentless, cold, and efficient much like Bourne himself. Lyman rescued the secret agent genre from Spy Kids and Agent Cody Banks with a thriller that while grounded in realism, explodes upon the screen with a fury that no silly kid movie can hope to match.
Lyman passed on directing The Bourne Supremacy, but thankfully Paul Greengrass took the helm and kept Supremacy faithful to Lyman’s vision. The major complaint one could find with Greengrass’ style is an overuse of hand-held camera shots used to represent the cloudy/jumbled bits of memory floating in Bourne’s head. I thought it worked well enough, however I can imagine some viewers finding it distracting.
The key to both movies is Matt Damon’s portrayal of Bourne. With minimal dialogue, Damon gives a complicated performance as a man who struggles to discover who he was while consciously trying to distance himself from his past. Bourne is an assassin who needs amnesia to discover who he really should have been. Only Damon’s talents could have shown us this. Do you really think his buddy Affleck could pull this off? What about Paul Walker or Vin Diesel? I don’t think so. Amongst his peers, Damon is in an acting class by himself.
The “car chase” is another carryover from The Bourne Identity that Director Greengrass includes yet improves upon. Supremacy takes the cliché car chase, injects it with steroids, and chases it with a Red Bull. The climax is easily the best car chase on screen in ten years. It’s better than the The Matrix: Reloaded. Why? Supremacy isn't hindered by CGI. The chase is intense and real. When Bourne’s car spins out of control and is simultaneously blind-sided by another car, I dare you not to flinch. We don’t get a blue screen George Lucas special; we get raw, heart racing intensity that doesn’t relinquish its grip on you until it’s over. Ahhh, I long for the days when directors used only his actors and his camera to awe the audience. (Hey Lucas, I’m talking to you!)
Whether Lyman’s vision or the directing of Greengrass can claim responsibility for The Bourne Supremacy’s is open to debate. I don’t care. At the very least, Greengrass knew not to screw up a good thing. With Matt Damon establishing himself as a talented and bankable star, The Bourne Supremacy will reign supreme at the box office and in the action-thriller genre.