At the end of the Bourne Ultimatum, Julie Stile’s character, Niki Petersen, is sitting at a Cafe, listening to the news. As Moby’s Extreme Ways comes on, she smiles and the scene cuts to Jason Bourne, underwater after ten story fall in Manhatten, kicks to life and swims away. To me, it’s the perfect, if somewhat circular ending to what would seem to be the end of the Bourne movies.
The movie doesn’t hold any surprises to anyone who’s seen the Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy. It employs much of the same scenes and sequences, but in a way that doesn’t seem old or unexciting – Just the opposite. Paul Greengrass’s second foray into the gritty world of Bourne carries over the frantic camera movements that risks leaving weaker audience members nausious, but gives you the feeling once again of being right next to Jason Bourne as he punches, kicks, shoots and batters various people, this time CIA agents, who are sent to kill him, and this time, people that he’s trying to find.
The Bourne Ultimatum is an excellent installment to the now trilogy, based loosely now off of Robert Ludlum’s books by the same titles. Picking up just moments after the second movie ends (In Moscow), we see Bourne get away again. The real ending of Supremacy would seem to be a teaser for the third one, as it takes place in the middle of this movie. However, before that happens, we watch as Jason Bourne goes to France, then to London’s Waterloo terminal, then to Italy, then Morocco, as he continues what was started in the first movie – his search to find out who he was before he lost his memory. Once again, action scenes are top of the line, not only exciting, but ones that even top the first two movies. Bourne brings out an improvised weapon once again, this time in the form of a hardcover book, and a towel. Julie Stile’s character brings out another degree of interest, as some sort of relationship is alluded to in a cafe shortly after she helped Damon’s escape.
There are a number of parallels to the prior two movies – it’s nice to see that they’re actively part of the storyline. Wombossa is mentioned, as are a number of the events in Supremacy. But the really cool moment comes when Bourne is held at gunpoint by a younger Treadstone-Type killer. “Look what they make you give.” He tells him, just as another agent told him in Identity, although the outcome is different here – Bourne survives, where the other agent died. While the first half of the movie follows Bourne over three continents, the last act brings him home, to America, and to the training facility where he became Jason Bourne from David Webb. With the help of Pamela Landy, he helps bring down the bigger scary program, Black Briar, which Treadstone seems to have been a part of. Along the way, there’s the usual kinetics, Bourne crashing a car around through New York City, Morocco, leading a journalist around Waterloo station while avoiding the CCTV cameras and in Italy, where he manages to get a team of Americans arrested when they come to apprehend him.
This movie is also more overtly political than the prior two. While assassination is a dominant theme of the first two movies, the implications aren’t really examined. Here however, there’s not one or two agents who suddently get the impulse to betray the CIA’s Black Briar program by going to a hapless journalist, there’s four, which brings the CIA down on a witch hunt to keep their dirty little secrets secret. Interesting that this movie comes out shortly after a book called Legacy of Ashes was released utilizing recently declassified documents from the CIA, including their dirty little secrets. Here, the CIA itself, not just the rogue Treadstone agents are the scary people. They not only drag a man who Bourne used to hide the journalist, from a bus, drugged into a van, they assassinate said journalist right in the middle of Waterloo station, authorize the deaths of Nikki, as well as the agent who provided the journalist with names, and, no surprise, Bourne himself. It makes the director’s comments in the second film somewhat amusing: “This is still a clandestine agency, is it not?”
The ending of the film leaves a bit open, while leaving enough closure for this to be the final film. Bourne swims away into the murkiness of the water, Nikki is grinning and Extreme Ways is still playing. I wouldn’t be surprised if talk of a sequel will be bandied about, given the overwhelming success of the film, but if not, I’ll be able to sleep easy about that, if not about what the CIA might potentially be covering up.