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The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Director: Paul Greengrass

review by Debbie Moon

Jason Bourne has escaped his former life as a brainwashed CIA assassin, and is living quietly with girlfriend Marie. But the headaches and the nightmares won't leave him alone - and neither will the ruthless killer who keeps tracking him down. Meanwhile, a botched operation in Berlin leads senior CIA officer Pamela Landy to start digging into the abandoned Treadstone project, uncovering a conspiracy to frame Jason that dates back years and implicates her own staff. As the killer gets lethally close to Jason, he's forced to carry out his final threat on leaving Treadstone - if you ever come after me, I will turn around and come after you...

The Bourne Supremacy is a much more conventional spy thriller than its predecessor, the paranoid and passionate Bourne Identity. Early on, it even relies on one of the great clich�s of the spy movie to trigger our hero's return to violence, when an alternative motivation could have left him with an interesting and original sidekick for the movie. However, it's still head and shoulders above most movies of its genre, effortlessly combining thrilling action and ingenious schemes with strong characterisation and messy, moving emotional realism.

Tony Gilroy's hard-hitting screenplay offers no happy endings, little redemption, and no victories for truth or justice. Vulnerable and reluctant, Jason suffers emotionally and physically because of the machinations of people he barely knows, and his revenge offers him no peace of mind. Though the use of handheld camerawork may be a little overdone, Greengrass' frenetic direction hurls us into the confusion and pain of his world, peaking in a brilliantly realised car chase that mirrors the wounded, hunted Jason's loss of control over his own fate.

Matt Damon is perfect, both as action hero and emotionally bruised everyman, plumbing depths of character that would elude more obvious casting choices, particularly in a beautifully judged penultimate scene. Strong performances from returning actors, notably the excellent Brian Cox, Gabriel Mann, and a pleasingly hysterical Julia Stiles, flesh out the complex plot, and Joan Allen is a welcome addition to the cast as the tenacious Landy.

It may not have the timeless relevance of The Bourne Identity, but it's still a world-class thriller and one of the best things you'll see this summer - and any movie that will teach you how to blow up a house with a magazine and a pop-up toaster has to be worth a look.
The Bourne Supremacy

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