Sunday, April 26, 2009

Score another one for 2007

Continuing my ongoing assertion that 2007 was one of the best film years ever -- if not the best ... When you look at this list and realize The Bourne Ultimatum isn't even in the top dozen or so, you know it was a good 12 months.

But my overall 2007 post will come later. This is about Bourne.

(Nice pic at

What's interesting about Ultimatum is it always seemed like such a yawner. The whole series did, really -- that's why I skipped the first two installments. The standard spy/CIA/government/black ops action stuff ... woo. And at its core, that's all Ultimatum is. That's why it could never be truly awesome -- straight-line actioners rarely (if ever) are, IMO. Action is just lost on me, mostly.

Still ...

Kudos to Ultimatum for not only working as a stand-alone (if you haven't seen the first two installments, it's no big deal), but also taking its premise -- brainwashed super-assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon*) tries to figure out who he really is and get back at the people who made him that way -- and just running with it. Not much setup or exposition. It gets right to it.

*Maaaatt Daaaamon!

It's rarely excessive in its straightforward, French Connection-type approach (although that chase through Tangiers is a bit much). Most notable, though, is its incredible craft. /Film, listing its 10 most influential films of the last 10 years, wrote this:

The Bourne Ultimatum is on the list for exemplifying and honing two different things: the ‘running man camera’ action scenes, which is now the norm; and the rapid-fire cross cutting between an alarming amount of different angles. Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse go down in history for finding a way to assemble a record-breaking variety of coverage in a way that is comprehensible to the audience. I would explain how it works, but it’s mighty geeky and a little bit technical.

Yes, it's an absolute clinic on film editing (speaking of geeky and technical), which is why Rouse (deservedly) won the Oscar. Also, the aforementioned Greengrass might be one of the most technically gifted directors working today*.

*More proof: United 93. If I were to make a list of the 10 greatest films -- and I mean of all-time -- that one would receive a ton of consideration.

Which is why, even if you're not an action lover, it's hard not to get something out of Ultimatum. And if you're one of those who eats up action films like I love comedy and horror, then -- well, then you've probably already seen Ultimatum like 100 times by now and are pre-purchasing tickets for Bourne No. 4.

And who could blame you?

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