Sunday, August 5, 2007

A thrice-told tale -- but it's told pretty well

Unsure of the proper sequence of titles, my wife recently referred to this latest entry as "The Bourne Redundancy." Ha ha. But I have to admit, it's not too far from the truth.

The story of Jason Bourne, the ex-CIA assassin with no past -- and, his ex-handlers hope, no future -- has now been told three times with minor variations. Bourne wants to find out how he became such a capable killer. And if that means a violent chase through every major world capital, then so be it. "The Bourne Ultimatum" offers everything in the first two movies, just more of it. A couple of scenes are almost identical to the first, just with a different girl.

But you know what? I don't care. If you're a fan of smart action movies, this is as about as smart and as pure action as you can get. Paul Greengrass' jerky, documentary style gives a visceral punch to every scene; his claustrophobic framing puts you right in the middle of every chase or fight. (I suspect it also helped contain the budget -- a lot of wide-angle action choreography can get very expensive in places like Manhattan or London.)

So, Dave-Bob says three stars. Only one other minor quibble: Where's the sense of humor? A subtle touch of comic relief here and there would not have gone amiss with this kind of picture.

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