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Bourne Ultimatum, The Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 January 2008

Image "The Bourne Ultimatum” brings one of the most unique movie series in recent years to a whole new level. “The Bourne Identity” introduced us to a confused Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) looking for answers to his past. “The Bourne Supremacy” took us further into Project Treadstone and the masterminds behind the assassination training program. Now, in “The Bourne Ultimatum” Jason is more confused than ever, and the CIA is not making his life any easier.

The third film picks up about 10 minutes after where “Bourne Supremacy” ended. Injured in Moscow, Bourne manages to escape on a train and heads to Waterloo in England. It is there that he meets with Simon Ross (Paddy Considine), a security correspondent for a local newspaper. He has been writing a series of articles on the identity of Jason Bourne, using a source deep inside the CIA. Now, both Bourne and CIA headquarters are after Ross to find out who his source is. Tracking Simon Ross through a cell phone call in which the code words “Operation Blackbriar” were used, the CIA follows Ross to Waterloo station where he is to meet with Bourne. Unfortunately for Bourne, Noah Vosen (David Strathaim) sends the agency Asset to take out them both. Unable to save Simon Ross, Bourne escapes once again.

Following a weak trail of crumbs, Bourne travels to Madrid to locate Ross' source. Of course, the CIA, now with the help of ex-CIA official Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), also find themselves sending operatives into Madrid. Another battle leaves Bourne barely being able to escape. This time he gets help from the timely appearance of Nikki Parsons (Julia Stiles). She offers information on the location of Neil Daniels (Colin Stinton), the source. Bourne and Parsons head for Tangiers in order to intercept the assassin sent out after Daniels and to recover the Top Secret Blackbriar files. The CIA's Asset beats them to the punch and then turns his attention to the two of them. The Tangiers rooftop chase sequence is a bit too long, but it culminates in an awesome hand-to-hand combat sequence between Bourne and the Asset, Desh (Joey Ansah).

Noah Vosen's decision to act impulsively and issue the assassination of Nikki Parsons, forces Pamela Landy to switch from an allegiance to the CIA into assisting Bourne in taking down the Blackbriar operation. After the shutting down of Project Treadstone, CIA Director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn) opened Operation Blackbriar, the umbrella for all black ops. No more red tape for the CIA. Through a series of secret communications, Landy leads Bourne straight to the training facility where everything all began for Bourne, aka David Webb. First though, Bourne makes a stop at Nick Vosen's office to collect the Top Secret Blackbriar documents from his safe.

Bourne's continuous memory flashbacks throughout the film provide him clues as to who he really is. It is not until he meets Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney) in the SRD training facility that his memories come back in a lucid manner. The film has a terrific ending that is suitable to the film itself and also leaves the door open for a fourth installment in the Bourne series.

The underrated star of this film, and the trilogy itself, is Julia Stiles. Her character is deep, but it is her acting that makes the character of Nikki Parsons so intriguing. Throughout all three films Nikki holds onto a powerful secret about Bourne's past. It only becomes more evident in “Bourne Ultimatum”. The way she looks at Bourne shows us that there is a deep connection there. That connection is left unknown to us, and that, above all, is the reason I think a fourth film will follow. She could be his sister or maybe even his wife. Miss Stiles' best acting comes from her lack of conversation. When Bourne is explaining to her how to be on the run from the CIA, she says absolutely nothing. However, the look in her eyes and expression on her face says more than words ever could. Stiles is a terrific actress and should be recognized as a driving force in the Bourne series.

“The Bourne Ultimatum” is another video demo reference film. There are several out there that will claim the video is sub-par, and that grain appears throughout. I believe that is only so they have something to say to keep it from being perfect. Well, I've seen a lot of HD DVD presentations, and short of animated features, “The Bourne Ultimatum” has had the best video yet. The black levels are stable and not crushed. Due to the film style, the colors are not vibrant, but they are stable as well. The fleshtones are accurate, but not saturated. Grain appears here and there, which is due to the source and not the transfer. The visual style of the film lacks steady shots. And even with all the fast motion and shaky camera movement, there is absolutely no appearance of compression or motion artifacts. The video presentation of this film is completely pristine. Definitely demo material worthy.

The audio quality is even better than the video quality. Presented in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 format, the soudscape of “Bourne Ultimatum” is all encompassing. Sound effects are not as distinctly placed in the surround channels as say, “Mr.& Mrs. Smith” on Blu-ray, however they are cohesive. This provides the listener with a solid soundscape that moves all around them. The sound effects get more detailed attention in the final 40 minutes of the film. In the final sequences you will definitely hear discrete sound placements. Surprisingly, the attention to detail in dialogue mixing was excellent. Dialogue moves to the appropriate channels in accordance with the video. Even with the slightest movement of a character toward the surround channels, the dialogue will follow. It is refreshing to see that movement in dialogue instead of the typically held “all center channel all the time” belief. The Tangiers' rooftop sequences exhibit more width than normal in the front channels, which was jarring at first, but it easily becomes enjoyable.

While not a big fan of special features, there is plenty on this disc for interested parties. Even with a runtime of 115 minutes, there were still eight deleted scenes. A few of these were actually interesting and revealing about the storyline. It was quite enjoyable, as most deleted scenes nowadays tend to be utterly pointless, or merely a slight extension of an already existing scene.

There are several featurettes on this disc. They mainly center around the camera work in the film at each of the different locations. “Man on the Move: Jason Bourne” is an on-set featurette with the cast and crew. The segment consists of coverage in Berlin (which doubles for Moscow at the beginning), Paris, London, Madrid, and Tangiers. “Rooftop Pursuit” covers the camera setup needed for the rooftop sequence in Tangiers. “Planning the Punches” shows the choreography and behind the scenes footage of the Tangiers' combat sequence between Bourne and Desh. “Driving School” gives us a glimpse at the driving training school for all the car chase sequences in the film. “New York Chase” deals specifically with the chase sequence from the CIA building in New York to the SRD training facility. Fans of audio commentaries will enjoy the Director commentary with Paul Greengrass

The “Be Bourne: Spy Training” extra features uses a series of movie clips from the film and 20 questions to test your skills. Then, with a web connection you can view your results and receive your first mission. Other web-enabled features include My Scenes and the Download Center.

I might consider “The Bourne Ultimatum” to be the best of the three films. But of course, there is no way to watch the third film without having seen the first two. All together, they function as quite a unique saga. The video and audio quality are outstanding and can be the sole reason for watching this film. The fact the plot and acting in the film is terrific is only a nice bonus. This is easily one of the best films and demos out. I highly recommend adding this one to your collection. The first two films, “Bourne Identity” and “Bourne Supremacy” can also be found on HD DVD with decent video and audio quality. So strap in and follow Bourne throughout Europe in his search to find out who he really is, and who is responsible for the assassination program.

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