The next film in the Bourne series, The Bourne Supremacy, was a substantial improvement over the first film. Doug Liman got booted from the directing chair and replaced by an English director named Paul Greengrass. At the time, Greengrass was coming off of a critically acclaimed film called Bloody Sunday, about the North Irish uprisings in the 1970s. Universal was impressed enough by that film that he was hired to direct the sequel, and helped shape not only the Bourne franchise for the foreseeable future, but for all of modern action flicks. We wouldn’t have certain action films available in the market today if it weren’t for Greengrass signing on to direct this film. It’s a big deal.
Supremacy picks up months after the events of Identity. Bourne (Matt Damon) and Marie (Franka Potente) are living together in India when an assassin (Karl Urban) blows their cover and kills Marie in the process. Bourne goes on the run seeking vengeance for his girlfriend while also running from the United States government. While on his revenge business, Bourne continues to unfold clues about the now-defunct Treadstone, the CIA black-ops program that Bourne had been apart of. Since Conklin was killed in the previous film, Abbott (Brian Cox) is still in the fold as he assists Pam Landy (Joan Allen) in helping capture Bourne in Berlin.
Tony Gilroy once again writes the screenplay, but its worth noting that this film began a special relationship between Damon and Greengrass. The two have collaborated for years ever since, with Greengrass casting Damon in his 2010 film Green Zone. While Gilroy continued to write the screenplays for these films, Damon and Greengrass did a substantial amount of uncredited rewrites. A lot of the more brilliant parts of both Supremacy and Ultimatum were Paul Greengrass and/or Matt Damon ideas, not Tony Gilroy ideas. It makes sense that Greengrass and Damon are credited writers on the upcoming Jason Bourne, as they’re the brains behind this genius series.
And a lot of the brilliance comes in the form of a tighter and more exciting story than the first film. There’s more action than the previous film, but even the talky sections of this film feel even more exciting than before, and its all thanks to Greengrass’s unique way of telling his stories. Greengrass’s trademark is his shaky cam and quick edits. It’s a form of filmmaking that can be incredibly nauseating if it isn’t done well, and Greengrass is the one that helped bring this cinema verite style of filmmaking to Hollywood action filmmaking. All the action sequences in this film feel more intimate and exciting. You feel like you’re right there with Bourne as he chases an assassin through the streets of Moscow, or when Bourne is fighting his way toward the truth in Berlin. It helps that Greengrass found a new collaborator in Christopher Rouse, who went on to edit all of Greengrass’s Bourne films as well as his other films after Ultimatum. Similar to the Damon and Greengrass relationship, he and Rouse share a unique bond for making exciting action come to life on the big screen. The shaky cam and the quick cuts blend seamlessly thanks to this partnership. Its worth noting that Rouse is a credited writer on the upcoming Jason Bourne, along with Damon and Greengrass.
The acting is also as terrific as it was in Identity. Damon continues to be the stand-out, with Allen giving one of her best performances as Landy. Cox continues to be great as Abbott, even if he bites the dust at the end of this flick (oh, spoilers for a 12-year-old movie). We also get to see more of Julia Stiles in her role as Nicky Parsons. She was in Identity, but felt more like she was apart of the background in that film. There’s more for her to do in this film as she assists Landy in finding Bourne in Berlin, but she doesn’t get nearly the amount of screentime that she gets in Ultimatum, but we’ll get to that later in the week.
I love The Bourne Supremacy, almost as much as I love the Bourne film that succeeded this one. Supremacy is a greater improvement of an already solid action flick, and helps cement The Bourne series as one of the greatest in Hollywood history. Jason Bourne is America’s answer to James Bond over in England (more on how the Bond franchise took note in my Ultimatum review). You’re doing yourself a disservice by neglecting to see these films if you haven’t already, so I don’t even need to recommend you see these films (or maybe I just did that…). Anyways, the Ultimatum review should be up sometime this week, and expect a review for Jason Bourne next weekend.