Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ultimate Action

I was going to post this review earlier, but I needed to wait for the Advil to kick in.

Don’t get me wrong: “The Bourne Ultimatum” is a really good movie. I mean, it moves--very quickly. So fast and choppily that, if you’re like me, you’re going to end up with a headache.

There is enough action and violence to satisfy the most testosterone-drenched male viewer. In addition, there are a couple of brief, tender flashback scenes of his lost love tossed in as a peace offering, no doubt to keep the female viewers convinced of Bourne’s humanity.

I’m not so sure of that. Even the Terminator looked a lot more beat up than Jason Bourne after one-on-one encounters with an adversary. No matter the amount of physical pounding he takes, the vanilla-faced Bourne always seems to stride off into the crowd with the merest of superficial scratches.

There are also numerous, repetitive flashback scenes of his torturous indoctrination into the Special Ops of U.S. espionage. To the point that I was rolling my eyes in “I get it already, he was tortured!” fashion.

But these are quibbling details. The film is very good, and two hours of my life never moved faster. Paul Greengrass, of United 93 fame, leans heavily on handheld camera techniques, which leads to an almost documentary-style feel in the jumbled crowd scenes. Albert Finney is terrific in a small part during the climax, and we’re left wondering where Bourne will surface (quite literally) in the next installment.

And, considering the money this film is quite justifiably pulling in, there most certainly will be a sequel. That’s a good thing, eminently watchable movies being the rare entities that they are.

I’m left with one question: How did espionage ever take place before the advent of cell phones? The original James Bond managed to save the world while wearing a tuxedo, romancing a “tomato,” (as my father would have said), and quaffing a stirred martini. All that suave competency, without making a single phone call.

Bourne is certainly impressive, an unbelievably resourceful guy you definitely want on your side, but he always looks overly concerned. Super-survivor that he is, even Bourne could learn a thing or two about looking unruffled in the face of death from the ultimate master of spy movies.

Bond. James Bond. Now he was cool.