Be careful what you wish for. For those hoping for just one summer movie not laden with computer effects or comic book heroes or unpopular teen girls fighting with very popular teen girls, you may think your prayers have been answered with the release of The Bourne Supremacy.
The sequel to the 2002 hit The Bourne Identity, featuring Matt Damon as the amnesiac hit man Jason Bourne, promises another round of globetrotting spy vs. spy as Bourne is thrust once again into the dangerous world of international skulduggery and murderous, covert mayhem. What we get, unfortunately, is a film that is nothing more than a shadow of its predecessor, pumped and revved with non-stop hand-to-hand combat and incessant, migraine-inducing jump cuts.
As repeatedly expressed in director Paul Greengrass’ vision for this Robert Ludlum-inspired snoozer, the template for action sequences seems to borrow from that old bumper-sticker adage, “If you can’t wow them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”
This time around, the film finds the highly trained and permanently addled Bourne hiding out in an idyllic cottage somewhere in India with his companion from the first Bourne flick, Marie (Franka Potente). He runs on the beach. She shops in teeming open-air markets. He gets bad headaches and terrible visions of his past life as an assassin; she wipes his neck with a moistened washcloth. Meanwhile, back in Germany, a CIA operation has gone terribly wrong, with agents gunned down and important documents stolen. The maestro conducting the badly bungled operation is the always serious and strangely sexy Joan Allen, replacing Chris Cooper as Bourne’s nemesis. Allen plays a take-charge spook’s spook who is trying to find Bourne after his fingerprints turn up at the scene of the aforementioned fuck-up.
It isn’t long before we once again are plunged into what made the first Bourne movie passable, a cat-and-mouse thriller that has Bourne kicking ass all over Europe and wrecking as many cars as he can get hold of. Whereas in the first film the action was always there to propel us further into the murky past and intriguing mystery that is Jason Bourne, the sequel quickly reveals all the bad guys and all the good guys, leaving us with nothing more to do than follow Bourne around, waiting for him to punch someone in the face or race a really small car down some European thoroughfare.
The film’s choice of bad guys is curious. Besides the poor slobs within the CIA who make the always-fatal choice of trying to whack Bourne, a Russian oil baron joins those who wish to see him dead. A Russian oil baron? In the times we live in, the geniuses behind The Bourne Supremacy give us a Cold War bad guy. The uninspired, tired plot twist makes the film leaden despite the comically frenetic car chases. Russian oil barons. Scary, huh?
Dan DeMaggio writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].