The summer of 2002 produced the sleeper hit The Bourne Identity. With high studio profits and three more books of source material, it wasn’t hard for the Universal big wigs to green light a second chapter in the Bourne saga. Now available on DVD is this summer’s hit The Bourne Supremacy. After sitting through both Identity and Supremacy, you can’t help but begin to count the days until those same big wigs green light The Bourne Ultimatum. Matt Damon has been consistently one-upping his fellow Beantown buddy Ben Affleck in the hit department, and now for the first time for either of them (not counting Kevin Smith movies), a sequel has been spawned. Not having seen The Bourne Identity until it showed up on “Starz!” over the summer, I passively skipped this latest installment thinking I’d get around to it eventually. Now I have, and I can say that The Bourne Supremacy is one of the best sequels of the summer. Granted there were only like a handful, but you get my point.
Former CIA hitman Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has been on the run from the agency for the past two years. Currently residing in India, Bourne still struggles to gain back all of his memories of the past. Just when he begins to slowly put some pieces together, his cover is blown and he must come out of hiding to track down who is behind the evil plot that left girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) literally sleeping with the fishes. From Berlin to Moscow, Bourne eludes CIA operatives whilst piecing together both the clues of this conspiracy and his own memory.
Darker second installments almost always lay ground work for more chapters. Thus is the case with The Bourne Supremacy. Its dark tone and even more rugged look and feel take this budding franchise into a whole new level. It’s extremely atmospheric - there isn’t a single shot in the movie that is tied down; the film is constantly on the move... like Bourne. Every car crash, every chase, and sadly every fight is gritty and chaotic. A majority of the time this chaos method works, until Bourne encounters the last living Treadstone agent played by Martin Csokas (xXx, Kangaroo Jack). Their fight is way too chaotic. Granted it works for the story and the film, but somewhere when Bourne rolls up a news paper and begins swatting at him like a fly it starts to go crazy. That notwithstanding, the film’s dark and gritty motif works throughout.
Matt Damon does some great work here. There is real depth to his character. He’s an American James Bond, though without being a gadget wielding man-whore. Bourne has a conscience and is totally torn throughout (both films) over what his past truly holds. He wants to know, but at the same time he is afraid to know what he’s forgotten. Damon achieves this all with just a look. There are many times in this film where his character comes across a thousand times more impactful with little to no dialogue than any exposition scene could ever do. He is Jason Bourne, and his grasp of the character only fuels more hype for more “adventures”.
Much like the first film, the rest of the cast is padded out with solid support. Brian Cox, Gabriel Mann, and Julia Stiles all return, and series newcomers Joan Allen (The Notebook) and Karl Urban (The Chronicles of Riddick) add more weight to this story. Allen does great work as the officious no-nonsense CIA agent Pamela Landy. Serving in what normally might be a man’s role, Allen steps up to the challenge - much like her Academy Award nominated performance in The Contender. Urban makes his second appearance as a baddie in a post-Lord of the Rings big budget Universal summer sequel. The Kiwi native adds even more intensity than Clive Owen did in the “silent hitman who’s hired to kill Jason Bourne” role - which should count for something since Owen is great at being intense and silent.
The cast is all top notch, the story is clever and sharp, and Director Paul Greengrass’s stylistic execution is sinister and real. All of these elements come together in making a very good movie. It’s not the best thing to come out this year, and it won’t hanker for golden attention, but for your hard earned money it’s nothing short of sheer entertainment. There’s a bunch of extras on this edition of The Bourne Supremacy. I say “this edition” because no doubt when they make another film in the franchise an “Explosive Extended Edition” is bound to appear on shelves a few weeks before. Isn’t that right Bourne Identity? Extras here include nine featurettes, deleted scenes, and a commentary from Director Paul Greengrass.
All the featurettes on this disc are roughly four to six minutes long and center on different elements of the movie, the first being “Bourne to Be Wild: Fight Training”. This feature gives a behind the scenes look at various fight scenes of the film, more importantly the big “chaos” one I spoke about earlier. After seeing what they were trying to accomplish, I get what they were going for, but it still looks like pandemonium to me.
“Blowing Things Up” is a featurette about...you guessed it - blowing things up. Specifically blowing up the house after the herky jerky fight scene. The stunt crew explain how they did it and how they rigged the stunt wires in such a way that has never been done before in film. The entire thing makes one want to go for a ride on the little contraption they made where, rather than simply being jerked backwards on a wire, the stuntmen are launched in a spiral motion making them spin in reverse several times. Looks like fun, though I wouldn't eat anything beforehand.
“Matching Identities: Casting” features Paul Greengrass talking about why he cast Bourne virgins Karl Urban and Joan Allen. He toots their horns all while making perfect sense as to why he went along those lines. While, “On the Move with Jason Bourne” is a location featurette about locations in Berlin, Moscow, and India where the film was shot. Cast and crew speak about the trials and tribulations of working in the vast locations and how crowd control is an issue due to the language barrier.
The “Keeping it Real” featurette centers around Paul Greengrass and his crew and how they decided upon the look and feel of The Bourne Supremacy. The feature goes behind the scenes showing all the various handheld cameras and techniques they used to accomplish their goal. Next, “Anatomy of a Scene: The Explosive Bridge Chase Scene” goes behind the scenes of a sequence in the film where Bourne goes from being on a train to jumping off a bridge onto a boat, only to climb back up the bridge and get back on the train to allude Berlin authorities. Matt Damon gives an account about what it’s like dangling from a wire in harsh weather conditions at four in the morning.
“The Go-Mobile Revs Up the Action” is a featurette that centers around the stunt crews little invention for the various chase sequences in the film. “Crash Cam: Racing Through the Streets of Moscow” shows the “Go-Mobile” in action for the film’s final climax and has the crew speak about doing the first big Hollywood movie in Moscow and having to close off all their streets.
The deleted scenes are alternate story points and show where how the film was originally to be sculpted. Much like all deleted scenes, most information in them was redundant or irrelevant so it got the axe in order to intensify things or set the story into motion at a quicker rate.
The Commentary by Paul Greengrass is a Matt Damon love-fest if there ever was one. The English director speaks at great length as to why Matt Damon is so good all while commenting on the various dark and gritty motifs sewn throughout the entire film.
The Features on the DVD are short and to the point. Rather than balloon into long and boring technical stuff, it’s boiled down to the nitty gritty. Though sadly there is no “Play All” option. Overall this edition is worthy enough for anyone’s collection, but only of course if you are a fan of the franchise itself. If you just plain haven’t seen the movie, or for that matter never heard Bourne Identity or Supremacy....go to your local video store and give both flicks a rent. They won’t enlighten or enrich your soul, but they will give you your money’s worth.
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