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The Bourne Supremacy

Jason Bourne is back! 
Back, albeit reluctantly, and as a man still unsure of exactly what he is back from or what specifically he was doing before he lost his memory a couple movies or at least moons ago. At the end of the last film, he warned his former employers in the U.S. Government not to try to contact him and he has been keeping a low profile in the mean time while he sorts it all out. This mental convalescence evidently involves taking refuge with his girlfriend Marie, played by Franka Potente, on the coast of India where he squanders his days (and considerable homicidal talents) running on the beach, and his nights sweating and fretting about who he really is, what he might have previously done, and to what purpose he was trained to be such a highly efficient killing machine. Sure enough however, his past resurfaces when another highly effective killer (although not as effective as Bourne obviously or there wouldn't be much of a film) appears on the scene, first framing him for a double murder in Europe somewhere, and then showing up personally to wreak havoc on his idyllic Indian life. As a result, Bourne is dragged back into the world of espionage and intrigue and decides that this time he will take matters into his own proactive hands. Bourne quickly sets his sights on his former bosses in the CIA as the only ones who can give him answers regarding what happened to him and goes about taking the expert training they bequeathed him with, and shoving it right up their butts until he finds who was pulling his puppet strings before he dropped off the grid. Looking like everyman and walking the streets of the continent anonymously despite massive manhunts swirling around him, Bourne eventually learns the truth. The movie ends with him finding out that his real name is David Webb and then disappearing into the crowd of NYC, setting the stage for another installment, most likely to be called The Bourne Pen Ultimatum, which should be out in a few years.

The film is pretty good suspense and Matt Damon who plays Bourne is not as bad as you might think. Not that Damon is bad normally. But he is somewhat diminutive, not overly muscle bound or statuesque certainly, at least in the traditional super spy type way, and some have expressed skepticism that the Opie like actor could live up to the billing when asked to play some sort of global ass kicking stud. But if we remember that the essence of Bourne the character is that he fits in anywhere, that he blends in with the masses of great unwashed, that he looks like nobody while people roil around him looking for someone who looks like somebody, then Damon does a good job of setting his jaw and making us believe that he is not someone to be messed with and yet somehow retains just enough likeable innocence so we don't find him overly cold even though he is basically in robotic mode most of the time. The fact that he often doesn't know what to expect but adapts immediately to whatever his enemies throw at him, even when he doesn't have a clue as to who they are or why they are after him, is much of the appeal of the character and Damon's Bourne adapts with such a ruthless efficiency that it is usually entertaining to behold.

The supporting cast is good as well although none of the characters other than Marie are particularly likeable or stand out much on their own. Julia Stiles and Gabriel Mann are back as young operatives and Brian Cox reprises his role as a red faced bureaucrat with something to hide. Joan Allen is now the woman calling the shots for the Bureau and becomes the focus of Bourne's interest as he seeks to decipher his past. New Zealander Karl Urban replaces Clive Owen as the assassin trying to take Bourne out.

New director Paul Greengrass films The Bourne Supremacy in a herky jerky, hand held camera, frenetic pace kind of way that serves to increase the suspense somehow even though it is a bit disconcerting at times due to the strobing disco effect to go with Bourne's shaky memory. The action rarely lets up and there is little or no humor in this film which makes no attempt at those catchy one liners that all action movies seem to strive for anymore in that "Make my day!" kind of way. Since few actually succeed in implanting any one liners into the daily lexicon and the stars cool statements are more annoying than anything this is actually refreshing. Bourne doesn't say much at all as a matter of fact although when he does speak he seems to mean what he says.

Overall, The Bourne Supremacy is pretty solid entertainment and we will resist the urge to comment on the faithfulness to the Ludlum books of the same name since, other than the appellate of the leading man, there are few similarities between the books and the films anyway. Jason Bourne, the character, is developing in film however and we wouldn't be surprised if he becomes something of a James Bond type fixture before too long.

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