Rated: Rated M
I was at university when THE BOURNE SUPREMACY was originally published in hardback. The day the tome arrived at the campus bookstore, I also had a term-paper due for my Shakespeare 302 course. There was little drama in my decision: I dropped the Bard, and stayed up all night turning the pages of my fresh thriller. From this, you might draw one of two conclusions. (1) I have low-brow taste; and (2) as a fan, I will be a severe, demanding critic of the filmed adaptation. You would be right on both counts.
So, with my exacting standards and high expectations firmly in place, I found the second film in the Jason Bourne saga to be thoroughly entertaining. Like the first film in the series, The Bourne Supremacy had only the vaguest correlation with Robert Ludlum's original novel. The Cold War context of Ludlum's Bourne series, of course, begs to be modernized. And let's face it, these books are not works of literary stature; it's not like the filmmakers are defacing a work of Shakespeare (not that I would know).
In the film, Jason Bourne (Damon) and his girlfriend Marie (played altogether too briefly by Franka Potente) have apparently spent the time since the treacly end of The Bourne Identity living happily ever after in Goa, India. This bliss all comes to a quick and tragic end when Bourne is framed for the murder of a CIA operative and dragged into a web of back-stabbing intrigue that takes him out of India, to Naples, Berlin and eventually Moscow. The sequel lacks much of the subtle, psychological detail of the first film. Bourne seems less fragile, more certain of his lethal skills and secret agent need for revenge. If you, like me, are a fan of the first film, you may miss the troubled, fretting amnesiac, but the lethal mannequin who has taken over in his stead will grow on you. Especially in the sequel's final Moscow sequence when Bourne drives us through the best, most real-to-life, car chase/demolition derby since Bullitt or The French Connection.
Director Paul Greengrass has done a good job of mimicking the original film's gritty, under-exposed and paranoid reality. But he and Damon can only do so much with the robotic Jason Bourne that screenwriter Tony Gilroy provides. Still, this tale of revenge (violent) and redemption (unconvincing to the point of stupid - but one dumb scene is not enough to wreck the whole film) is a thrilling and heart-pounding ride.
Harden Grace is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.