The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
16th January 2005
Stiff suffering from his amnesia, Jason Bourne has left his violent past behind and is living a normal life with girlfriend Marie in Indian Goa. However, the nightmares and flashbacks remain and in order to make sense of what he sees he continues to make copious notes. Needless to say, he realises that his past is a very interesting and violent one, and having sworn that if the CIA ever came after him he would return to take revenge, he lives in hope of a quiet and peaceful life.
But when a CIA mission goes wrong in Berlin and Jason Bourne's finger prints are found all over the crime scene, CIA administrator Pamela Lanby and a hand picked team is called in to bring him in, dead or alive. However, when Jason narrowly escapes an assassination attempt from an unknown enemy he assumes that the CIA are back on his trail and decides the time has come to extinguish the agents in charge of the Treadstone project once and for all. Now hunted by an unknown enemy, Bourne plays cat and mouse with the CIA plus a group of conspirators and proves to all sides that he is neither an easy target nor a person whose skill, determination and resilience can be underestimated. One thing is for sure - it's going to be one heck of a fight and the body count is going to keep rising until Bourne gets his revenge.
For such a modern, big budget and frenetically paced film you would expect that the picture quality should be a bit of a show piece to impress the friends. However, whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with the superb transfer, with an image free from dust scratches and other picture imperfections, the picture itself can be a little bit on the reserved side with some rather muted and understated colours. Never the less, this simply appears to be down to director Paul Greengrass opting for a rather toned down image whilst the plentiful use of handheld cameras may have hindered it somewhat.
With large swathes of the film taking place either or night or dimly lit locations it is important that the picture holds up to the rigours of grain and outlining. Fortunately, things are handled extremely well and there are only a few scenes where grain can be a slight problem. Still, that's complaining for complaining sake, as the black levels are superb throughout and when we do have some daylight activity, even with the subdued colours, the image remains sharp and stable with a good level of detail.
Although most recent Universal releases have tended to come equipped with both dual Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks, for this release there's only a single Dolby Digital 384 Kbps soundtrack. Still, that doesn't mean that things are going to be disappointing as The Bourne Supremacy comes with one of the most dynamic soundtracks you're going hear for a long time. Whilst some action directors tend to err on the side of caution and blast the listener with a cacophony of messy sound effects and musical scores, director Paul Greengrass has provided a well thought out and involving soundtrack that doesn't use each channel simply for the sake of it.
As a result, the surround channels are quiet when they need to be, with plenty of ambient effects to keep you informed that they are still there, but once the action kicks in you are punched in the back with a raucous collection of surround effects that really throws you deep into the on screen action. But the effects channels are only one part of the soundtrack and the centre channel doesn't disappoint with clear and precise dialogue, whilst the front channels are as equally impressive as the rears with some excellent stereo steerage. And let's not forget a nice selection of ground shaking LFE effects to awaken then neighbours or frighten the cat.
Sound highlight has to be the extended car chase through the streets of Moscow. Already an impressive sight, with Paul Greengrass providing some innovative cinematography to get you into the heart of the action, things are rounded off perfectly by the superb soundtrack which hits you from every direction. Not only does the brilliant musical score heighten the tension, but with cars skidding across the road and horns blaring from all directions, you could almost be in the passenger seat.
The menu system is pleasantly animated with various cut scenes and images from the film whilst the sub-menus are static and have a nice transition effect. Each menu is also scored with some dramatic music and each menu is well laid out and easy to navigate through. The menu system also remains true to other the previous The Bourne Identity releases. This is either nice touch, or a nice and cheap way of devising a new menu system without too much effort. However, don't dwell on the menus too long as it doesn't take long before it reverts back to the previous menu and ultimately restarting the film.
Whilst there appears to be a wealth of extras, and they all have some form of merit, some are much better than others whilst there seems to be a common theme of advertising the previous release of The Bourne Identity at the end of pretty much every feature. Ok thanks guys, I think we've finally got the idea that there's more than one film in the series available to buy, there's no need to keep reminding us!
You only have to watch some of the featurettes to see that the director is quite an affable and humble man. However, he is man who wants results and the end product is a truly stunning film. As a result the Feature Commentary is quite an interesting listen with plenty of humour, trivia and other snippets of background information, whilst he's also quite happy to give credit to others where its due. The other featurettes also highlight just how well he appears to get on with Matt Damon, so it's a great shame that he's not part of the commentary. Still, I guess Matt is a rather busy man these days and he may not have been able to find the time to chat.
There are ten chaptered Explosive Deleted Scenes which run for just over seven minutes in total. Unfortunately, there is no explanation as to why they were deleted, although pacing reasons for what is already an fanatically paced film could be behind the reasons, whilst some of the scenes probably give a little too much of the plot away. Still, none of the scenes are that important and, to be honest, leaving them in the film would have most likely taken some of the shine away. Next up is five minutes of the usual back slapping in the Matching Identities: Casting featurette. However, viewers of the first film will notice that the majority of the interviewed cast are from the first film, so there's very little new to add. Never the less, it's still interesting to hear what the director has to say about his talented cast.
In the five minute Keeping it Real featurette, producer Frank Marshall plus various cast and crew members sing the praises of the director. Quite how this has anything to do with keeping the film realistic is a different matter, and not having seen the director's previous film Bloody Sunday I can't really comment on whether his style is much the same here. But listening to Paul Greengrass' comments, there's no doubt that his technique does have a "real" and spontaneous look to it, and it all works quite well. In the rather interesting Blowing Things Up featurette, director Paul Greengrass goes to prove that you don't need expensive CGI effects to blow up a house when a few wires with plucky stuntmen attached and a lot of propane gas will do the job nicely. Still, judging by the aftermaths of the explosion it was certainly only ever going to be a one-taker plus the stuntmen won't be needing to trim their eye brows for a while. One things for sure, fixing the mess is going to be one hell of a challenge for Changing Rooms.
If you thought that only Bond films could command exotic and traditional "spy film" locations, then the five minute On the Move With Jason Bourne featurette goes to prove that it plans to stamp on some well established toes. With some traditional locations such as Berlin, a very cold Moscow and the more exotic Goa, you have all the trappings of a globe trotting action thriller as the cast and director praise each of the locations and their various pit falls. The four minute Bourne to Be Wild: Fight Training featurette follows Matt Damon through the Jeff Imada choreographed kalis fight scene with another Treadstone agent. With Matt having worked with him on the previous film he pretty much already knew what was expected, so with the occasional clip from the film we see everyone hard at work to get the scene filmed and acted out right. Featurettes like these can sometimes take up an inordinate amount of time, but with comments from Damon, Imada and the director, it is yet another interesting featurette.
The four minute Anatomy of a Scene: The Explosive Bridge Chase featurette looks at the stunt work involved in creating Damon's rather impressive jump off a Berlin bridge onto a passing barge. Again, director Paul Greengrass introduces the set up and detail behind the scene whilst Damon talks enthusiastically about all of the running, and ultimately, jumping involved. In the five minute Scoring With John Powell feature, the composer guides us through the scoring process in a very chatty and interesting manner. It's interesting that the majority of people simply take the musical score for granted, but there's no doubt that John Powell's score really does heighten the tension and the on screen action. It is a very effective score indeed.
Highlight of the extras has to be the The Go-Mobile Revs up the Action featurette. This begins with a bank robber leaping into a car and fleeing from the police in a high speed pursuit. I initially thought that there must be something wrong as it had no bearing on the film what so ever. However, once the pursuit comes to an end it all falls into place as the camera pans out to reveal a very impressive rig containing half of a car where the actor sits surrounded by a moveable camera and pod for the stunt driver. But what makes this all the more impressive is that both the camera and pod can be easily moved about the rig so just about any camera angle can be achieved. And together with a monster of an engine, the rig can move at one heck of a speed and give some very impressive results indeed. Welcome to the new world order of car chases.
And going on to prove just how good the Go-Mobile's credentials are, in Crash Cam : Racing Through the Streets of Moscow featurette, the director shows how the extremely impressive car chase through the streets of a very cold looking Moscow was created. Using the Go-Mobile, handhelds and various other cameras shoehorned into the stunt car, the results are very impressive with plenty of car crashes, near misses with Matt Damon clearly loving every minute of it! It just goes to prove that with a little thought and design it doesn't take much to rewrite the car chase rule book. The disc also includes a nice bit bit of padding material in the form of the theatrical trailers for the other Universal titles Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, Van Helsing, The Bourne Identity and Billy Elliot: The Musical. Still, they rather bizarrely couldn't find the room for the trailer for The Bourne Supremacy.
Whilst I certainly enjoyed The Bourne Identity the pace could be a little bit too slow for me at times. However, with the The Bourne Supremacy everything comes so thick and fast you don't have time to take a breath, let alone sit down on the sofa. To say that things run at breakneck speed is a bit of an understatement! Never the less, this is by no means a negative as it's such a thrilling and enthralling ride, you just want to be part of. It's just a pity the film had to end.
With some brilliant hand held cinematography that throws you deep into the centre of the action, director Paul Greengrass has managed to take action films to another mind boggling level. Some people may not like the "shakiness" of it, but I just loved the results. Before The Bourne Supremacy came along I wouldn't have even considered any other film challenging the superiority of the Bond franchise, but with Die Another Day falling flat on its face with stupid amounts of humour, innuendo and ridiculous gadgets, The Bourne Supremacy has crashed the party and stirred the Martini. It's got it all. Realistic and bone crunching fight scenes, every day weapons, with the most effective being a rolled up magazine (you'll see) and with Matt Damon continuing to improve on his good, but ultimately dark and violent, character so well, you really couldn't ask for anything more.
And topping things off is the wonderful direction from Paul Greengrass. As with many sequels, and their change of directors, it could have been a bit of a nightmare as each new director stamps their own unique interpretation onto the proceedings - you only have to look at the Batman franchise for that. However, Greengrass has managed to raise his career profile and provide Hollywood with a bit of a rarity by creating a sequel far superior to the first. Let's just hope that both Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass can be convinced to return for the third book to film adaptation of The Bourne Ultimatum.
The Bourne Supremacy is already looking like a contender for DVD of 2005, and at the time of writing, we've not even reached the end of January! Do yourself a favour, rewrite your DVD shopping list and get your paws on this disc. It's an absolute cracker and highly recommended.
- Feature Commentary with Director Paul Greengrass
- Explosive Deleted Scenes - Featuring over 10 minutes of additional action not seen in cinemas
- Bourne to Be Wild : Fight Training - Matt Damon didn't become a lethal weapon overnight. Watch as he and the movie's fight trainer choreograph the film's action-packed, hand-to-hand combat scenes!
- Blowing Things Up - Digital isn't always better. See how some of the film's most awesome pyrotechnical sequences were created - without computerised effects
- The Go-Mobile Revs up the Action - Feel the rush of being in the driver's seat with this revolutionary new vehicle used to captured Matt Damon's high-speed exploits in the movie's jaw-dropping car chase sequences
- Crash Cam : Racing Through the Streets of Moscow - Experience how stunt-coordinators meticulously plan and execute the movie's stunning, high-speed chase sequence
- Anatomy of a Scene : The Explosive Bridge Chase Scene - Step onto the set and experience the tension and intense preparation as the filmmaking team plans and shoots one of the movie's most demanding, dangerous and thrilling action scenes
- Matching Identities: Casting - See what it took to land a part in this major action hit
- Keeping It Real - A look at the edgy and unique style the filmmakers brought to The Bourne Supremacy
- On the Move with Jason Bourne - Travel the globe to visit the film's exotic locations from India to Berlin to Moscow
- Scoring with John Powell - The music behind the action
- Theatrical Trailers - Trailers for other Universal titles