17 August 2007 | snow0r
Edge of the seat stuff
Jason Bourne sits in a dusty room in with blood on his hands, trying to make sense of what he's just done. Meanwhile, a CIA chief in NYC outlines the agency's response to what's just happened on screen. An American flag stands proudly on the centre of his desk in the foreground of the shot, but as he speaks, it slips out of focus as his plan veers into morally dubious territory, as if it doesn't want to be associated with the course of action the government man decides is necessary in the interests of national security.
This shot effectively captures the mood of the film. As well as portraying Bourne's quest to find out how he became Jason Bourne, Ultimatum is also an examination of the human costs of the measures taken to protect us in the interests of stability and security.
It is also probably the best film you'll see in the cinema this year.
It's just so intense. Bourne says to Simon Ross (Considine) "This isn't some newspaper story, this is real" and in the audience you almost believe him. The camera shakes, but remains steady enough for you to see everything and feel like you're there with Bourne as he tries to elude his pursuers, and the performances are so good that these guys seem as though they are the characters they're portraying, instead of just being actors performing well-written roles. The action scenes are so brutally fast-paced and well choreographed that they seem instinctive instead of planned to the minutest movement; the stunt-work is nothing short of amazing.
The pacing is just incredible. It keeps driving forward towards its conclusion, but not so fast that it leaves you struggling to piece together the plot; the script delivers the information you need as quickly and clearly as possible before moving on to the next tense action set-piece. While they're often simple (the Waterloo sequence is essentially just a man on a phone being watched by a man on a phone) they're charged with such dramatic intensity that you can't take your eyes off them. The film is just so focused on powering forwards that you can't help being swept along by it.
With its intense action set-pieces, brilliantly paced storyline, and intelligent examination of the decisions made in the name of national security, the Bourne series is one that accurately captures the ambiguities of our age. Ultimatum is its peak.