The Bourne Ultimatum: Matt Damon

Jasin Boland/Unversal Studios

Review in a Hurry:  The Bourne movies continue to defy all the rules of sequel logic, each somehow surpassing its predecessor despite being essentially the same movie, with many recurring characters, plots and settings.

The Bigger Picture:  Ultralethal rogue agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is back on the trail of his elusive identity and still really, really angry at the people who stole his past, killed his girlfriend and just won't stop with the mute, stonefaced assassins out to finish Bourne for good. This time, though, Bourne is finally honing in on the source of all his troubles. This time, it's all about closure.

Not that you could mistake any of this for touchy-feely, playing out as it does with the series' emphasis on handheld cameras, blurry, close-up action somehow held together by razor-keen editing and an eardrum-blistering score. Touching, in this movie, is something that's done only by trained professionals who need to disable or kill someone else—good thing there aren't any group hugs in the offing.

The Bourne Ultimatum bears a great many similarities to the earlier films. Thankfully, this includes the thick paranoia and tension of Bourne's high-wire act. Damon has come to excel at compelling characterizations of ciphers, most recently in The Departed and The Good Shepherd, and Bourne's struggle with his violent nature comes out even in the action scenes. Which are plentiful and thrilling.

A cat-and-mouse-and-cat foot chase through a Moroccan city is the series' most gripping scene, punctuated by a burst of serene brutality. And the last car chase is so visceral and immediate you won't believe it until you've seen it, bringing the series ever closer to a satisfying conclusion even an amnesiac could remember.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  Didn't Bourne already kill most of these guys not once, but twice? There's something to be said for embracing risky filmmaking, but the risk of repeating yourself isn't the one you want to go after. Let's hope, for better or worse, that it ends here.

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