|The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Franka Potente, Joan Allen, Karl Urban, Brian Cox
Director: Paul Greengrass
Everybody wants a sequel to their favorite film, but most sequels are poorly constructed. Quickly thrown together with little integrity and respect for the audience, they rarely even come close to matching their predecessors, with the exception of a select few. Luckily for fans of Jason Bourne, the second installment of the spy vs. spy series, “The Bourne Supremacy,” comes exceptionally close to surpassing the original, but ultimately falls short in the hands of the wrong director.
In “Supremacy,” fans get a thorough look into the history of Matt Damon’s amnesia-stricken spy when an old training mission becomes the pivotal issue in a botched CIA operation involving a dead politician and a powerful oil dealer. When a Russian assassin (Karl Urban, “The Lord of the Rings”) frames him for murder and an ambitious CIA agent (Joan Allen) gets hot on his trail, Bourne is forced to abandon his island hideaway in India while he again attempts to piece together his fragmented memories. Ward Abbott (Brian Cox), the mastermind behind the since terminated Treadstone project, and his logistics assistant, Nicky (Julia Stiles), return as supporting agents to track down Bourne.
Damon shows exceptional veracity in his revival of the Bourne character, a man who has been programmed to kill but still manages to subdue his ferocious mannerisms with an unknown source of caged emotion. The supporting cast is also given a lot more to do the second time around, especially Cox and Stiles, who are allowed to add depth to the insignificant characters that appeared in the original. A frustrating exclusion from the list of returnees, however, is “Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman, who practically reinvented the spy thriller with his brilliant cinematic take on the Robert Ludlum bestseller.
Amateur director Paul Greengrass (“Bloody Sunday”) replaces Liman’s genius with an exaggerated, seizure-inducing editing style that includes the use of a shaky handheld camera throughout most of the movie. While it’s bearable during the less frantic sequences, it really hurts the film’s amazingly choreographed car chases and fight scenes as blurred colors and semi-recognizable figures briefly appear on screen. Thus, the action scenes quickly become a drag to sit through and not even the clever script can make them interesting enough to enjoy. “The Bourne Supremacy” offers both brains and brawn, but without the ability to enjoy any of the action, the film falls to mediocre levels.
Fans of the film will find several cool extras on the latest Bourne DVD, including insightful featurettes on car chase stunts, fight training, pyrotechnics, action photography and casting. There's also a travelogue entitled "On the Move with Jason Bourne" and the "Anatomy of a Scene" feature, which dissects the explosive bridge chase scene. Finally, 10 minutes of deleted scenes are also included as is a commentary track with director Paul Greengrass. The featurettes, nine in all, stand as the highlight of the extras, offering an inside look at some of the film's most memorable and explosive moments.