Universal // 2004 // 109 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // January 20th, 2010
They should have left him alone.
It wasn't until this, my third viewing of the Bourne franchise on The Bourne Supremacy (Blu-ray), that I realized how ridiculously irrelevant Jason Bourne is to our current political climate. He's an average-looking (or at least he's supposed to be) white man who's been trained as an unstoppable assassin by the U.S. government. He has a gift for languages and is obviously credible as a citizen of any number of countries where he might want to blend in. That sounds like a really good idea until we realize that, according to the media, most of the trouble for the United States is coming from countries where guys who look like Matt Damon would stand out like a sore thumb, making his infiltration and assassination abilities pretty superfluous. Bourne's to be forgiven though: he was conceived in the late '70s when he would have been the perfect cold warrior. I mention all this because despite the fact that it seems staggeringly obvious in retrospect, while I was watching the high-octane shenanigans of Matt Damon and company, I never stopped to think about anything that wasn't on the screen. For my money that's action filmmaking at its finest.
The Bourne Supremacy is set a few years after the events of The Bourne Identity. Rogue assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon, Dogma) is living off the grid in India and is piecing together his memory with the help of Marie (Franka Potente, Anatomy). Meanwhile, in Berlin, CIA Deputy Pamela Landy (Joan Allen, Jumper) is overseeing an operation to buy files that incriminate a CIA operative in an leak. When that operation goes sour (including the loss of CIA personnel), a fingerprint from none other than Jason Bourne is found at the scene. However, he couldn't have committed the crime because he was in India, where a mysterious man is chasing him. This mysterious man eventually kills Marie and that sends Bourne looking for the CIA even as they hunt him.
The Bourne Supremacy is slam-bang action filmmaking at its finest, with car chases, explosions, fistfights, intrigue, guilt, double-crossings, and gunplay galore. After a gentle introduction of about five minutes, the movie refuses to let up for the next 90 minutes, offering scene after scene of Jason Bourne being a bad-ass while slowly piecing together his torn memory. The direction is spot-on with lots of handheld camera moves and a gritty, desaturated look that fits Bourne's bleak history. The acting is equally impressive with actors like Brian Cox, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, and Matt Damon playing their roles to perfection. The story also shines, with the basic premise of Bourne and the CIA pitted against each other by a middle man offers enough callbacks to the previous film while also establishing a solid story for the 100 minutes of carnage at hand.
My only serious complaint with the film is the Moscow car chase that caps the film. I'm not the biggest fan of car chases in general, but this one starts strong but peters out with a very unsatisfying conclusion. Luckily these scenes don't end the film, and the moments that follow bring the film to a satisfying conclusion (one that is manipulated spectacularly in the third film, I might add).
With the release of the Bourne trilogy, it looks like Blu-ray is finally catching up with HD-DVD in the flipper department. Yes, that's right, this disc is Blu-ray on one side, and DVD on the other. Both play just like standard discs in their respective players. The DVD side, as far as I can tell, looks exactly like the previous standalone version with the same transfer and extras. The Blu-ray side appears to be substantially similar to the previous HD-DVD discs Universal initially released. There's nothing wrong with that; the gritty, desaturated look of The Bourne Supremacy is preserved on this disc with strong detail and appropriate grain. The audio of everything from gun fire to dialogue is crisp and clear. All the extras from the previous releases are also available. That means Paul Greengrass' excellent commentary is included, as are all the featurettes that examine everything from the film's explosions to the scoring of the film. There are also some deleted scenes. Blu-ray exclusive features include a BD-Live strategy game, and some U-Control features including a dossier and orientation on Bourne. Together, the extras paint a pretty clear picture of the film's production.
The Bourne Supremacy is a solid audiovisual upgrade over the previous DVD release, but fans are going to have to decide for themselves if a little extra clarity in the audio and video are worth upgrading from their DVDs. For those who bought the previous HD-DVD releases, there's very little BD-exclusive content to warrant an upgrade as long as your HD-DVD player continues to work. Any action fan who hasn't sat down with the Bourne trilogy yet needs to. This Blu-ray, along with the other Bourne films in hi-def, is the way to go.
Both Jason Bourne and this Blu-ray disc are not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes