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Culture Reviews
Bourne Supremacy / By P. Greengrass /
Tchaikovsky Cultural Center 
By Ryan Macalino
Bourne Supremacy is the best action movie I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and I recommend *everyone* who visits this site to fork out the cash and watch it.

There, I’ve just said it…

As an enormous weight has just been lifted off my shoulders, let this reviewer explain himself. It’s one thing if you have always been a fan of the action movie genre, or interested in the world of espionage, or love seeing different locales. It’s also another thing if you’re a huge fan of Hollywood budgets and Hollywood actors, especially Matt Damon. But what makes this movie quite special IHMO, is that the whole entire third act of this movie is set in Moscow. See what I mean? Now you *have* to watch it! Thankfully, this movie doesn’t portray the city in the same way “Night Watch” did (well, there was one MTS billboard).

The movie is a sequel to 2002’s “Bourne Identity”, also starring Damon as Jason Bourne, and has him basically doing more of the same stuff: dealing with the CIA, disarming assassins and law enforcement, finding out more about his past, and running – lots and lots of running. A few from the cast of the first movie return to reprise their roles: Brian Cox, Franka Potente, Julia Stiles, and Chris Cooper (via fake flashback) all help the series’ continuity.

Among all the actors, Matt Damon is the standout - playing the tormented Bourne as if it was made for him. He’s got an irregular face and expression for this character - but we believe him and identify with him. For the entire movie, Damon looks like a high-school kid that’s spent too much time in the gym and has just broken up with his girlfriend. It’s as if he’s thinking: “See this frown on my face? Don’t mess with me boy, or I’ll beat yo’ ass!” And he does. In fact, there’s even an exhilarating fight scene where he disarms a knife-wielding, fellow Treadstone-trained assassin with nothing more than a rolled-up magazine!

You could tell that Damon also did much physical preparation for this role, as his increased musculature suggests. In addition, his ease in using the Filipino martial art Kali seems effortless and second-nature. Also note that this action star actually knows how to run; and if you don’t know what I mean by this, rent “Die Another Day” with Pierce Brosnan; you’ll know exactly what I mean. Finally, as if this wasn’t enough, Damon’s ability to speak perfect Russian – much better than the actors portraying Russians – just adds to his mark as a dedicated performer.

Apart from Damon’s work, it’s also worthy to note the director. Taking over from Doug Liman, Paul Greengrass gives us thrills that don’t rely on special effects and smooth shots and choreography. Instead, he is able to give us sheer paranoia and visceral moments of fear for Bourne’s capture or demise. The fight scenes are sloppy and brutal, and at times you don’t want to watch. There are blurry close-ups and fragmented images. Oftentimes the camera is jerky, as if to show that this is the way that Bourne views his world – pure thrill with direction alone.

And the Moscow scenes, oh the Moscow scenes… I was unable to hide the playful glee while seeing Damon zip past one Moscow landmark to another. The initial two-thirds of the movie were great, a pulsing crescendo to the very satisfying chase scene in downtown Moscow. The abrupt, climactic finish to this scene at a Moscow tunnel sent the movie-going audience to applause. Wearing a grin that went from ear to ear, I was eager to join.

If you want to break this movie down academically, then I’d have to say that as the middle movie in an expected trilogy (based on the novels by Robert Ludlum), and it does its job quite well. It properly continues where the last one left off, while at the same time, it perfectly sets up the next one in its denouement. The story itself also stands very well on its own, as it is ultimately the story of Bourne’s attempts to redeem himself and atone for his bloody past…

But never mind all of that! What mattered to me was this movie’s ability to get me hooked from the very beginning. The fast-paced direction, Damon’s perfect performance, and most of all, the effect of it happening “right there” made me feel like a kid in a candy store. When the movie finished, the crowd gave another ovation. The smiles on their faces looked as if they’ve just survived a thrilling ride at the backseat of a Moscow taxi. This is the best comparison I can give for this movie, and what a ride it was!

03.09.04
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