"Ultimatum" is very good at what it does and will hardly disappoint fans, but for those looking for something a bit more epic on the third go-around, you'll be tragically treated to more of the same.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, HD-DVD/DVD Combo Disc)
Directors: Paul Greengrass
Producers: Doug Liman .... executive producer
Writers: Tony Gilroy (screenplay) and Scott Z. Burns (screenplay) and George Nolfi (screenplay) Tony Gilroy (screen story) Robert Ludlum (novel)
Features: * Commentary * Deleted Scenes * Featurettes * Text Trivia * Video Based Game * Bookmarking * Web Enabled * Dolby Digital 5.1 TrueHD and Plus
Matt Damon ... Jason Bourne
Julia Stiles ... Nicky Parsons
David Strathairn ... CIA Deputy Director Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn ... CIA Director Ezra Kramer
Paddy Considine ... Simon Ross
Edgar Ramirez ... Paz
Albert Finney ... Dr. Albert Hirsch
Joan Allen ... Pamela Landy
Tom Gallop ... Tom Cronin
The Bourne Ultimatum
When we last saw super-spy, turned amnesia patient, Jason Bourne, he had nearly pieced together most of who he once was. He was now off to regain some semblance of his life. It was not really clear where the series was headed, but it seemed as though it was going to be a slam-bang, near epic finale. Alas, "The Bourne Ultimatum" does offer up some intense, highly entertaining spy shenanigans that best most of today's actioners, but the film is hardly the satisfying finale it could, or should, have been.
The film struggles from an infectious laziness that permeates certain aspects of the story, forcing cliches and worn spy themes. The plot is quite wobbly and contrived and the film lacks the intensity and complexity it so desperately needed. The result is a wholly uneven film, from start to finish. This time around, Bourne once again must find out who was behind his spy training and, like the previous films, newer villains operating at the CIA attempt to track down and kill Bourne at every corner. This time though, it isn't Treadstone behind the attacks, but a newer, eviler covert group called Blackbriar. The film certainly paces itself in fits and starts, but it also feels made up on the fly, which, from what I've gathered, is pretty much true.
"The Bourne Ultimatum" also begins to stray into retread territory as virtually every element is borrowed from the last film. I kept joking with my wife while watching the film. Every time John Powell's ubiquitous "Bourne" theme would rumble in the speakers, I would say things like, "We need cameras in that room.", "Come on people, we need to find Bourne." and "Get me Pamela Landy." Tragically, each of these statements, and statements similar to these, are spoken dozens of times in the film.
It became cliche and tiresome watching yet another great character actor (David Strathairn this time) attempt, and fail, to track down Jason Bourne while other potentially more villainous character actors lurk in the background. Also returning, is yet another assassin, who seems poised for a one-on-one battle with Bourne. It was equally tiresome watching Bourne go through all the routines we'd seen before. Sure, the film packed an entertaining punch, but it hardly matched the depth and character of the first and second outing. What we essentially end up with is a satisfying finale that leaves a slightly bad taste in your mouth.
Matt Damon and his boisterous supporting cast (including Joan Allen, Julia Stiles and Paddy Considine) do their best with the occasionally mechanical dialogue they are given. Director Paul Greengrass is behind the lens again and provides a beautiful, locale driven, but tragically dizzying experience that may make you reach for the Dramamine. The action set pieces, which consist mainly of on-foot chases, are quite sporadic and action packed, but lack the bloody luster of the gritty, raw car chases of past "Bourne" outings.
Now, I'm not saying that "The Bourne Ultimatum" isn't a wholly worthwhile film. In fact, it's very good at what it does and will hardly disappoint fans, but for those looking for something a bit more epic on the third go-around, you'll be tragically treated to more of the same. Perhaps Damon will return to this role once more and reclaim some of what made the first two entries so great--that raw emotion, guttural action and intense character. But with most loose ends tied up this time around, "The Bourne Ultimatum" might just be the last time we see Damon play the unknown superspy. And that is far more disappointing than the movie.
Be sure to check out my review of "The Bourne Supremacy here.
Film Report Card:
As entertainment: B+
As a film: B-
This is a review of the HD-DVD version of "The Bourne Ultimatum."
Universal presents "The Bourne Ultimatum" on HD-DVD in 2.35:1 widescreen, encoded in 1080p/VC-1 video on a HD-30 dual-layer disc. I expected this one to look great and, for the most part, it does. But the film is plagued by interlacing issues caused by shooting certain scenes on handheld HD video. It's not the fault of the disc, but it mars this transfer from being reference. Occasionally the transfer is a bit too dark with occasional "black crush" melding one set of blacks with another. Daylight sequences are fantastic, but I couldn't help but notice some edge haloing during some of the busier action sequences. Film grain is also present throughout, but is intentional. All-in-all, this isn't a bad presentation, it's just not quite as reference as I wished it would be.
Universal gives fans two tracks to choose from--a Dolby TrueHD track and a Dolby Digital Plus track. I found both tracks to sound quite good, filled with solidly organic surround effects and decent center mixing. Occasionally some dialogue would be overpowered by booming left and right surround effects, but those moments did not last long. This is a solid mix to a very robust action film.
Universal has given fans of the first two "Bourne" films some decent supplements over the years and this release is no different.
First up, fans are treated to an audio commentary from director Paul Greengrass. It's a fine track filled with great on-set trivia and making-of material, but Greengrass himself is a bit dry at times so it might take a few tries to get through the entire track. Incidentally, he does give additional hints that this was a film that was made up "on the fly" and many reshoots were needed to fix errors.
Next up, we're treated to four featurettes. The largest of the group is "Man on the Move: Jason Bourne" which discusses the many locations of "The Bourne Ultimatum." There are also three shorter featurettes worth watching that discuss more location shooting and stunt work.
Finally, fans should check out the Deleted Scenes section which mainly feature scenes with Scott Glenn, who is hardly in the theatrical cut, but serves a major role in the story of who Jason Bourne is. Some of the scenes are rightfully cut as usual, but others help flesh out certain characters.
This is also a combo disc with the DVD on one side and the HD-DVD on the other.
Universal has always given "Bourne" fans a decent supply of high-def exclusive supplements and once again, "The Bourne Ultimatum" delivers.
First up, fans should definitely check out the Picture-in-picture commentary which is more or less a group of cast and crew interviews. A lot of info is given out here that fans are sure to eat up.
Next up, check out the Blackbriar Files, which is similar to the Treadstone Files found on previous "Bourne" releases. More or less, this is a text-based commentary track featuring factoids about the various spy equipment in the film.
Finally, there is a game that plays while you watch the film that records how much visual and story info you can recall. It's likea mini-game in Scene-It, which is sort of cool, but a bit tiresome after the first few tries.
Also, there's additional online content for fans hooked to the internet and Universal's standard MyScenes bookmarking feature.
"The Bourne Ultimatum" comes in an "Elite" red case. Design is simple and in fitting with Universal's other titles however it annoyingly doesn't match up with previous "Bourne" titles. Why, Universal, why!?
"The Bourne Ultimatum" is a fine finale to the franchise, but I just can't shake the overall sloppiness of the whole affair. It just doesn't seem like anyone really had any idea where this story was actually going to go and because of this, the film greatly suffers. But, fans will still yield much enjoyment out of Matt Damon's action-packed brawls. The A/V and supplement presentation make the HD-DVD the best version of this film available.
HD Content: B
Overall Value: B
On HD-DVD and DVD: December 11th, 2007.
* Add me as a friend on Myspace
* Email Me with Comments, Concerns, Questions and Complaints regarding this review, but please, be nice.
----R. L. Shaffer