A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 221 – The Bourne Supremacy

The Bourne Supremacy – October 7th, 2010

Going into this movie I knew a couple of things: Obviously there is no way in hell that a former government assassin is ever going to be able to quietly retire out of the way, and I wanted to see more badass shit, preferably with Karl Urban involved. And Julia Stiles. I wanted more Nicky in this movie. And the movie delivered. It delivered on many fronts. There are some impressive car chases, some really kick-ass fight scenes, craploads of intrigue and some excellent performances from actors I truly love. I can honestly say I really enjoyed the movie. But I would have enjoyed it a hell of a lot more if it hadn’t been for something so small and yet so crucial to the plot that I spent the entire movie waiting for someone to mention it and no one ever did.

The whole plot hinges on a planted fingerprint. Jason Bourne’s planted fingerprint. It’s used to place him at the scene of a double murder and an interrupted espionage deal. It’s used to frame him and that’s where it all starts. Well, not really. It starts in Goa with the end of Bourne’s quiet life with Marie, but the involvement of the CIA and Joan Allen’s character, Pam Landy? The plot that drives the vast majority of the movie? It starts with a planted fingerprint that should never have been assumed to be real. Let’s think about this. Bourne is a dude who’s stayed off the grid for two years. He wipes down his hotel rooms. He was trained to be invisible. Why the hell would he leave a clear finger print in a prominent place he would have known people would be checking? He wouldn’t. And as soon as they found it and as soon as Landy traces it to a professional assassin who leaves no trace of himself as a matter of course, someone should have sat up and said “Wait. He left a fingerprint? This is a set-up.”

Granted, there had to be a way to frame Bourne and flush him out. That’s the plot. I just wish the method had been a little more subtle. Later on, when someone does realize something’s fishy, that something fishy is this far more involved deal with Bourne being too smart to blow the power lines the way they were blown, setting it up to supposedly be something only one or two people would realize. So it’s too simple in its set-up and too complicated in its reveal. The closest the movie gives me to admitting that the CIA doesn’t know what they’re dealing with is when Nicky points out that Bourne doesn’t make mistakes. And yet even then, no one twigs the fingerprint as a mistake that shouldn’t have been made. Ever.

I wouldn’t harp on this so much, except that one of the things I loved about the first movie was how evenly matched Bourne and Treadstone/Conklin were in terms of skills. Bourne was at a disadvantage because he didn’t know what was going on, but he was still a bad-fucking-ass. So there was always this feeling that his opponents were either moving alongside him or a step ahead of him. They were a threat. I never really felt like Landy and the CIA were a threat to Bourne here. He so clearly has the upper hand while he tracks them and baits them and demands to know why the hell they came after him and what the fuck they’re up to. They leave the window shades open. They don’t use protected lines. While I admit, I chuckled when Bourne made it clear he was watching Landy through the office window, I also then wondered, why aren’t those shades being closed NOW? It all ends up making Landy and her people look sloppy, when really, they’re only sloppy in relation to Jason Fucking Bourne. But still. And the way Kirill frames him is sloppy. And it makes Bourne look sloppy. And I’m not interested in a sloppy assassin.

Now, Kirill? Kirill’s a much better opponent for Bourne. If only he didn’t take an hour to show up again after his stunning debut in Goa. A good chunk of the movie is set in Germany, with Bourne stalking the CIA folks and trying to figure out what they’re up to and what they want with him. And if I ignore the sloppy issues, I admit I do like a lot of the Berlin scenes. They’re interesting from a character development point of view, showing Bourne recalling things about his past. Things he hadn’t remembered before and doesn’t like when he gets them back. The memories and the scenes with Nicky in the train station are really excellent character moments for Bourne and make him a flawed character again even while he’s still a bad-ass. He’s flawed in an interesting way instead of a sloppy way, and I appreciate that. And I do like Landy. I like Joan Allen’s performance of her as a strong woman who isn’t written as a woman-doing-a-man’s-job. While she is playing a tough as nails sort of woman I don’t really get the impression that she’s intended to be a ball buster. She is simply a person who is doing a difficult and high-stress job and doing the best possible given the lack of prior information and the target involved. And Allen does an excellent job with her. I like the intrigue of cover-ups and double dealing and corruption.

It’s just that I like Karl Urban’s Kirill better as an opponent for Bourne. Where Landy is trying desperately to get a handle on a situation she’s not trained for, Kirill is Bourne’s Russian counterpart. Their face-off in Moscow takes up the latter half of the movie and I don’t mind one bit. I rather wish there’d been a way to merge the plotty bits of the first half with the actiony bits of the second half, giving Bourne both intrigue to deal with from within the US government and a truly challenging opponent in Kirill. Because both parts were good, but the way the story is set up, they’re very clearly separated. Plot in Berlin, action in Moscow. US government mess in Berlin, trained assassin in Moscow. Sloppiness in Berlin, danger in Moscow.

As I said, I did really enjoy the movie. It’s engaging and interesting and it sucked me in and made me pay attention. I liked the performances of Allen, Urban, Brian Cox as Abbott – the former head of Treadstone – and Stiles, and, of course, Matt Damon. I liked the action and the fights and the suspense and the mystery and I liked the character of Bourne. He’s a fantastic character with some complexity to him. He’s got fascinating morals and an interesting character arc. I liked the concept of the story, where he’s still being used as a tool in other people’s machinations. I just think it would have been stronger if everyone involved – not just Nicky – had remembered that Jason Bourne is a man who does not make mistakes.

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October 7, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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