The Bourne Supremacy ★★★★½

If you watch The Bourne Identity, you realise it didn't need a sequel. It was constructed to exist as a told story, yet keep that door open to explore the mystery surrounding amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne further. The Bourne Supremacy succeeds in being a superior sequel to a very good original by taking what we already had and logically expanding it outward to create a more compelling backstory than we might have imagined. Though directed with a different verve and pace, it takes everything Identity did right and does it with more depth, intelligence and excitement.

Divisive is almost putting it mildly when it comes to Paul Greengrass' direction, all fast cutting, Steadicam jerky action especially when it comes to set pieces, but I feel it perfectly suits Bourne's cold, detached, ruthless world even better than Doug Liman's solid approach did. Greengrass chooses here to deepen not just Bourne's past but also the mechanism of his creation; in Identity, the CIA were mercurial and shifty but we never got under the skin of how they operate but here Greengrass and Tony Gilroy's skillful writing do, primarily through Joan Allen's ice maiden agent Pamela Landy, a prism to view the murky intelligence world as they struggle to clean up their mistakes. Yet there also manages to be a structured, emotional story for Bourne amidst the cat & mouse element, necessary as Matt Damon - even better here as Bourne - has very little dialogue in comparison to anyone else, central and driving the story with actions rather than words, but the emotional throughline of his first Treadstone killing provides a logical, conclusive narrative amidst the wider mythos in play. The scenery chomping comes to greats such as Brian Cox, expanding wonderfully on his Identity role, while extra danger comes in the form of a ruthless Karl Urban as a Russian version of Bourne essentially - thrown in with Damon with some thrilling action beats, primarily a climactic Moscow car chase that deserves to be regarded up there with the best thanks to Greengrass' mercilessly electric staging.

Supremacy is even better than I remember; lean running time, a punchy and intelligent narrative you'll need to pay attention to throughout, some superb execution of action beats and yet again a strong performance by Damon, anchoring a story that begins to expand without ever undermining how it all began. A truly great sequel.

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