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Movie Review

The Bourne Supremacy

Reviewed by: Evan D. Baltz
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Action Spy Thriller Romance Sequel
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
July 23, 2004
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Featuring: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Tomas Arana
Director: Paul Greengrass
Producer: Frank Marshall, Paul L Sandberg, Patrick Crowley
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“They should have left him alone.”

What were you doing at the Hotel Brecher in Berlin? Don’t know? Can’t remember? Neither can Jason Bourne. But something happened there. At least he thinks so, because his dreams are filled with vague remembrances. But, are the dreams reality?

Life is often tough and difficult for Jason Bourne (Matt Damon—“Ocean’s 11”), the once CIA black-ops hit man. On the run and in hiding for two years since the end of “The Bourne Identity” (2002), we catch up with the title character from the Robert Ludlum novels living in India with his girlfriend Marie (German actress Franka Potente—Run Lola Run). He has spent many days taking notes and trying to remember who he really is and how he came to be a CIA hit man. Thoughts and notes quickly turn to action, as Bourne is drawn back into the spy world by men trying to frame him.

The secret CIA program “Treadstone” is still attempting to clean up its mess from the first movie. But again, Jason Bourne is always one step ahead. The movie takes us to India, Italy, Russia, and Germany. The focus becomes Berlin as Bourne attempts to out spy the CIA for his own self-preservation and sanity.

Damon is masterful in this second installment. He plays Bourne as dead serious and realistically skilled. The movie feels real. There are many frantic car chases and action sequences, along with several shaky-cam fight scenes. The violence is more implied than graphic in most cases. There are only three uses of mildly objectionable words, one occurs in an English subtitle for Russian. There is no nudity.

The supporting cast is also quite serious and steady. Julia Stiles (Mona Lisa Smile) reprises her role as Nicky, as does the talented Brian Cox (Troy) as Ward Abbott. Joan Allen (“The Notebook”) is new to the franchise and plays CIA team leader Pamela Landy, tasked with catching up to Bourne. But true to the first film, all is not as it seems.

Copyright, Universal Pictures

Will Bourne recall his past in time to make a difference? His memory seems to be his only weakness. I’ll leave the surprises for you to discover, but I won’t be surprised at all if we have one or perhaps many more Bourne adventures. As for this one, it reigns Supreme.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None

Prequel to this movie:The Bourne Identity” (2002) and the sequels: “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007), “The Bourne Legacy” (2012)

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This was an entertaining, well-made, and relatively clean movie. If you are a Christian who doesn’t mind some violence in their action movie (a safe assumption if you are considering this movie), there is not much offensive. Swearing was very minimal (less than the first movie), and there was no romantic plot to the movie, so no sex. The European locations were realistic and too darned cold for any nudity! The plot was engaging and characters interesting.

My biggest complaint was the camera style in the action sequences, especially the big car chase. It was that jerky, closeup, quick cut method. Up to a point this can be effective to enhance action, if it’s subtle and doesn’t call attention to itself. This movie went way beyond that point. I felt like they were trying to trick me into thinking something cool happened in a shot when they show a blur and you hear tires squeal. A review I read said it was a better car chase than Ronin. No way!!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Jonathan, age 33
Positive—Great sequel. Better than the first due to no sex or implications of. Would take my 13 year old who is in to marshal arts. The biggest negative was the filming of the chase scenes (reminded me of home movies that were made with the help of a two year old.)
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Kay, age 34
Positive—Don’t sit in the first three rows!! The camera work through much of the movie was jerky, making it best to view from the back of the theater. I felt it enhanced the suspense, but my husband felt it made it too hard to see what was going on. This movie was everything the first one was, only higher octane. The action and violence were definitely in line with the rating (not a kid movie). It was surprising for an action movie, in that it does not glorify revenge. Bourne wants to know why they are after him, and to make them leave him alone. Later when facing someone who was affected by his crime he could have blamed his “higher ups,” but he takes the responsibility on himself and says he is sorry. There was no sex or nudity. There was a bar scene with “exotic dancers,” however all the women had clothes on. Many action films throw in gratuitous strip club nudity. This scene made an important statement about the quality of one of the characters, without slapping you in the face with needless nudity.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Laura Sonnenberg, age 35
Positive—I absolutely loved this movie. I was a big fan of the first one, and although this one is not quite as well done (plot wise) I enjoyed it. The car chase scenes are excellent and the twists added to the film made it suspenseful and left you guessing what was going to happen next. I was a little disappointed that Jason’s girlfriend ways taken out early, but I suppose a good side to that is that there were no steamy love scenes or anything like that. I recommend this for teens and adults who just want to have a good night out.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Heidi, age 19
Positive—I absolutely loved this movie. I went on opening weekend just because of how impressed I was with the first movie and I was not disappointed. After watching this I could not even remember any profanities or violence, although I know there was some, just nothing that was offensive enough to remember. I agree with other’s comments about the camera shots being a little bit crazy and hard to follow at times, but I think it added to the intensity of the chase scenes.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Ashley, age 19
Positive—This movie delivers all of the edge-of-your-seat action you could want. My 12-year-old son and I were both glad we went, and he would like to go again. From a Christian perspective, there is no problem of sexual immorality (I choose to believe that Bourne/Damon is married at the beginning of the movie, as Ludlum’s books says), and there is relatively little bare skin or bad language for a PG-13 movie.

The one big issue for the Christian viewer is violence, along with the related question of revenge (“‘Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord”). This movie does have quite a lot of violence, but never quite graphic enough to push it into the R-rating range.

The moral hinge-point of the movie comes near the beginning when Bourne and his wife are being chased by an assassin determined to kill them, and he becomes convinced that he has no choice: if he does not kill these people, they will kill him and his wife. She replies, “Yes, you do have a choice”—meaning that there are alternatives to killing.

This is the same no-choice moral situation that Jesus faced when he was arrested in Gethsemane. It was kill or be killed, right? Yet Jesus looked beyond that false dilemma to overcome the hatred and violence of his murderers through the forgiving love of the cross.

The central moral issue in this movie is whether or not Bourne will take his wife’s exhortation to heart. The screenwriters seem to want us to believe that he does take her words to heart. Situations arise where he could kill someone who we have been made to feel “deserves” to die, and instead he chooses not to kill. Nonetheless, when we compare Bourne’s actions to Jesus’ response to the violence directed against him, we must realize that Bourne takes gun in hand, whereas Jesus in Gethsemane said, “Put away your sword.”

Of course this genre of movie must ignore the many innocent bystanders who in real life would have been killed by Bourne’s careening car in the various chase scenes. But, then, it’s just a movie, so we can suspend disbelief and pretend that those bystanders were all OK in the end.

One last point: potential viewers should be aware that Bourne has many distressing flashbacks in which he remembers disturbing images for fractions of a second. These are shown with disturbing music and cinematography. Some sensitive and younger viewers may find those images haunting their thoughts after the movie.
My Ratings: [Average/4½]
—Joseph, age 44
Positive—I agree with other reviewers that the style of the filming during action scenes was too jerky. The thing that surprised me the most was that I had just finished reading the book and saw the movie the first weekend and the only similarity to the movie was the title. Usually, the plot is somewhat similar but not in this case. That was the only disappointing thing because the movie in itself was good but so was the book.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Janet, age 57
Positive—This film was outstanding. One of the best action thrillers in recent years. It’s gripping and entertaining at the same time, with a solid cast and plot driving it forward. The car chase is awe-inspiring. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat the whole time, wowing and shocking you with it’s brutal speed and power.

There’s a bit of language sprinkled throughout—not too much though. It’s also pretty heavily violent with some hard-hitting stuff. In past years, this film might’ve come away with an R rating for its intensity. The violence isn’t objectionable in the sense that it’s ever taken to a graphic extreme—but what is there is quite intense.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Ryan Holt, age 18
Positive—Absolutely brilliant film, the time went quickly, my wife reckons it was better than the first, I just loved them both.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Marc Puddy, age 40
Positive—This film was very fast-paced and interesting. I enjoyed it almost as much as the Bourne Identity. There was some violence, but it was not gratuitous or gory. This is an exciting film without all the objectionable content. I would like to see more of the human connection in the next film.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Jennifer Smith, age 34
Positive—I admit that this was a good movie—but not great. Maybe it was all the hype.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Dan
Neutral
Neutral—Run Matt Damon Run—they are after you. In this sequel (which isn’t as good as the first) but still passes the grade, Matt has more pieces of who he is. He is being framed. He is in the midst of a lot of action and VIOLENCE. This movie like the first is recommended for adults. I do want to say, it holds your attention. The camera work is great. Matt carries the character. Just keep the action, but tone down the violence.
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
—RockinRon, age 41
Neutral—I enjoy a mystery. I enjoy a thriller. I enjoy a great story. I also enjoyed the first Bourne movie. I wish I could say the same for this one but I can’t. I remember the beginning of the movie and the closing credits but for a large part of the movie I had to avert my eyes because of the horrible camera action. I know there was a great movie in there somewhere but I was starting to feel ill from the camera motion. The entire movie was filmed in shaky vision. I have never liked that filming technique but I can tolerate a dose of it especially if it can enhance what you view. This was overkill. I remember hearing a great car chase scene. I wish I could have watched it.
My Ratings: [Average/1½]
—Daniel, age 38
Negative
Negative—I really don’t understand how anyone could give this movie a positive review. I was really disappointed watching this movie, because I went it with high hopes after the good reviews. But this movie is terrible all the way around. The camera movement is so bad that it’s like an amateur filmed it with a camcorder. The story is all around depressing; everyone dies in this film and then it ends with no hope… So what’s the point in watching this movie? I certainly didn’t find one. It was also offensive for morals. The first one was good because he didn’t know who he was but after he found out, he tried to change. In this one, he just goes psycho and never looks back. Stick with the first Bourne but get a clearplay dvd filter for language because there is too much cursing in the first one.
My Ratings: [Average/2½]
—Brett, age 27
Negative—I saw this movie with hopes that it would be an exciting, intelligent thriller. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was either… For instance, without giving too much away, when Bourne loses someone very close to him, I was expecting him to get very angry and chase down the assassin while killing everyone in his path. Instead, he seems to go out of his way not to kill people… this was not a trademark of the first film and for whatever reason made it seem very unbelievable. Secondly, the car chase which was made out in the previews to be a major part of the movie is short and again, doesn’t feature a cool car for Bourne to drive. I know that there could be a moviemaking statement there, but hopefully one of these days Bourne will get to steal a car that is actually good. Finally, the directing in the film is simply awful. It seems as if the camera angle doesn’t change every two seconds (In the case of this film, I’m not exaggerating at all!) people will lose their interest. I sat in the front row of the theater, my usual spot, and almost felt like throwing up my popcorn during some of the scenes. I appreciate a little handheld camera here and there, as in the case of 28 Days Later, but this wsa more than overboard. Don’t go see this movie, see The Manchurian Candidate or I, Robot, both of which are also fairly clean and much more intelligent and fun. If you have to watch this movie, save yourself a few bucks and rent it later, you’ll be glad you did.
My Ratings: [Good/2]
—Tom Breimaier, age 20
Negative—Since Matt Damon gave $25,000.00 to moveon.org, I will not watch another movie by him. (Have viewed this film?: “Yes”)
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Chuck James, age 46
Negative—I have a problem with the profanity in this movie, which did have very strong language including taking the Lord’s name in vain more than once… Great plot, but not worth it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
—Ruth Adamson, age 32
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was highly enjoyable! I didn’t see “The Bourne Identity,” but I still got the plot and the movie. If you don’t like chase scenes then don’t waste your money on this one. This movie seemed like one big chase scene! But it is a sad story and thriller in one particular scene toward the end, Mr.Bourne (Matt Damon) confesses to a young lady that he killed her parents at a hotel (in the previous film). Another sad moment in the film is toward the beginning when “bad guys” hit he and his wife’s car during a chase scene and it went into “the water” and only Mr. Bourne survived. I think the director layed the movie out well started with action/drama then it was action/mystery/thriller then towards the end it was action/drama. this movie ended with a high punctuation. Well, throughout the movie these people are trying to capture Mr.Bourne and at the end of the film Mr, Bourne makes a call to a lady who is working to find him and he says,” You should get some rest you look tired” it sent a chill through the audience because it was like “how does he know?” kind of feeling. It boils down to this: it was just another richly filmed action movie.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Jack, age 12
Positive—Awesome suspense/thriller! No sexual content at all and a little bit of profanity. The action was excellent! There is hardly anything offensive in this film. I really recommend it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Kris, age 16
Positive—I do not know why some people have commented that this movie is violent. There was no violence that was unnecessary or offensive. Saying that, I enjoyed this movie mainly for the ongoing storyline, not the action. As people have said, it was hard to recognize what was happening in fight scenes and car chases.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3½]
—Leroy, age 15
Positive—I thought this movie was great! I was a huge fan of the first one and couldn’t wait to see this! Matt Damon is an awesome actor and plays Jason perfectly. There are some swears and definitely violence, but it is a PG-13 movie. My parents let my little sisters (8-10) see the first, and I’m sure they will be allowed to see this too!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Caleb, age 14
Positive—I thought this movie was really good! Personally I would recommend it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Bridget, age 11
Positive—Although I like the first one better, this is still a great sequel. This one has less profanity than the first and no sexually related scenes. Many have complained about the camera being too shaky and not being able to see much in the action/chase scenes. I personally did not mind the hand held style and do not understand how people were not able to see much of the action. Other than the mild use of profanity in the film, I was unable to find anything objectionable. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to anyone over the age of 12.
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Chadath Kujjai, age 17
Positive—Great story line. but the filming was bad enough for me to make me not like it as much as I could have. They jolt the camera around so much that it can make you sick. Not half as cool as the fight scenes in the first one.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Daniel Robison, age 15
Negative—This film was so horrible. I still have seizures thinking back to it. The camera seems as if a five year old is doing filming with a camcorder. They should have a warning about heart attack because of all of quick and jerky movements. The dialogue was also done terribly. For instance, the most important line in the movie was mumbled to the point where you couldn’t even hear it. There is no romance, no understandable plot (especially if you missed the first one) and filming was horrible
My Ratings: [Good/1½]
—Cameron Gabriel, age 13
Positive—This movie was probably the best movie I have seen this year. It was a great sequel to the first “Bourne” film. There was very little objectionable content in the movie. There was very little profanity, and no major cuss words, and no sex scenes whatsoever. I would definitely go and see it again.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Kyle Smith, age 17
Positive—I loved this movie!! You better be an action fan if you go see it!! It REALLY kept you on the edge of your seat! NO SEX or love scenes at all! NOT MUCH cussing either! I’d go see it again!
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Emily Reynolds, age 15
Positive—This movie was a great action film. I recommend this movie.
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Warren, age 12
Negative—Christians as a whole should have no problems seeing this movie. There is minimal swearing and no nudity. The only thing you might have a problem with is a scene that takes place in what is a apparently in a strip restaurant. This scene is a minute and a half long at most and nothing is suggested except for a brief two second shot of a woman (fully clothed) dancing provocatively. While no one should have any real moral problems with this movie I have some major complaints about the quality of the making of this movie. I know that I need to keep my comments concise but I’m sorry. I really have to speak my mind. First and foremost is the one everyone seems to have noticed and that would be the camera work. In THE BOURNE IDENTITY we all watched in awe as Jason swiftly and efficiently disarmed and knocked out his opponents. The camera smoothly followed his arm towards its target and panned to a wide shot as he turned around with the gun and knocked out the other adversary. The whole sequence took at most one second but I could remember the action clearly as if it were in slow motion. Then, in an instant it was over and Jason stood over the former threats with one of their guns in his hand. I then said to myself with all honesty “WOW. That was cool.” I expected nothing less from this movie.

What I got was anything but. Jason is motionless then the camera shakes as if there is an earthquake and then he walks away from a scene not unlike the one in the first movie. But, you will have no clear idea of what happened. There is another scene with a brief glimpse of jason running into moving traffic, an earthquake, Jason jumping over the hood of a car, another earthquake, a random motorcycle under a car (most likely the one Jason jumped over), earthquake, Jason runs away. There was likely a shot of the motorcycle before it was under the car but if so, it was too brief for my eyes to focus. In the last movie there was some awesome karate action as Jason squared off against a former fellow agent.
My Ratings: [Good/1½]
—Stephen Kennedy, age 16
Positive—…yes, this is violent. Does that mean you shouldn’t see it? …Too often people avoid movies based on the fact that the movie shows violence but what they don’t pay attention to is how it portrays violence, in which case I’d say that Bourne shows violence in a negative light due to the fact that Marie does get killed and he does feel pity at the end for the girl whose parents he killed, which drives him to apologize. I don’t believe that a film can make someone do a violent act if they weren’t already compelled to do it before they saw a film, if you strapped someone to a chair and held their eyelids open and forced them to watch a violent movie then they wouldn’t be compelled to copy it, why? Because movies don’t speak to that level of free will in people, people make their own decisions…
My Ratings: [Average/4½]
—Chris Whipps, age 14
Movie Critics
…a close to perfect example of an expertly designed and executed thriller…
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
…considerably less language than the first and virtually no sex scenes…
—Rhonda Handlon, Plugged In
…At long last, here is an action-thriller movie franchise for grownups…
—Leah McLaren, The Globe and Mail
…Supremacy could certainly have gotten further if Greengrass had paid more attention to the stylistic grace of the first Bourne movie…
—Joe Donnelly, LA Weekly
…better than average summer fare…
—Duane Dudek, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
…solid cloak-and-dagger actioner when you can actually see what’s going on… shaky, frantic camera moves often makes it hard to follow…
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic