THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (Paul Greengrass, 2004)

Amnesiac Jason Bourne is relentlessly pursued by Russian intelligence, whose agent kills Bourne’s romantic partner, Marie, while aiming for him, and (formerly) his own Central Intelligence Agency, the latter of which wrongly thinks he has murdered one of their agents. Out in the cold, Bourne is again on the global run.
     This film version of the second Bourne novel by Robert Ludlum finds Paul Greengrass having replaced Doug Liman, director of The Bourne Identity (2002): a vast improvement. This one is a more humane thing than the first in the series, but it’s still action-packed and incredibly fast-paced—although its string of anti-climaxes grows somewhat tiresome. Another problem is Joan Allen’s lousy acting as bureau chief Pamela Landy.
     In the main, though, Supremacy is an appealing, exciting entertainment that weds its bloody pace to bluesy-moody visuals—two things that aren’t usually combined. But here the “slow,” almost lyrical visual aspect bathes the rapidly edited images in an aching melancholy that sums up Bourne’s current existence as he loses whomever he loves and is periodically bombarded by shards of memory that tell him what a killing bastard he was for the C.I.A.
     The unifying theme of Greengrass’s film is our capacity to make moral choices in whatever situation we find ourselves, and Bourne’s struggle to regain his humanity over his former life, even with everyone after him, touches. Matt Damon, who plays Bourne, is no mean-spirited, cold-blooded Tom Cruise; he is throbbingly human.
     Bourne learns his real identity: David Webb. But what difference can that make now that he is also learning more about what Webb did, and what the consequences are for others no matter who he is? Bourne, terribly alone, has lost all that the rest of us hope never to lose.

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