Thomas Clarke’s review published on Letterboxd:
After the critical and box office success that was the genre defining 'The Bourne Identity', it was not long before the second novel in the Bourne series was green-lit for film production. With a slightly larger budget given over to the development of this idea, the majority of the crew returned in the same position. One notable change however, was that of director Doug Liman, being replaced by Paul Greengrass before filming began. For fans of the first movie this inclusion was exciting due, in large, to Greengrass's acclaim that was received for many of his earlier projects. The only condition that could stop this film from building on the first, was whether the source material was handled in the same manner as the original and if the filmmaking style of this film, was handled in the same way also. Through using fast editing, thought out action sequences and intense car chases, the Bourne Supremacy was handled correctly, and as such, fans were rewarded with a highly entertaining installment that did not feel like a sequel, but more a second part of an ongoing storyline, with greater character depth and conspiracy added to keep people engrossed throughout.
This movie is set two years on from the original narrative. Living a life away from his past Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has settled into a place far away from Treadstone, the CIA and everyone who seeks him dead. Living with girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente), the film begins with the couple incognito in India. Struggling to remember his past and suffering from nightmares involving his first black ops mission, the pair seek answers in hopes of understanding them better and gaining closure. However, during this period the CIA, primarily Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) are undertaking a 'Buy operation' in hopes of uncovering the mole who betrayed the organisation seven years earlier. However, before the trade can be made, the name of the mole for $3 million, a Russian Assassin, Krill (Karl Urban) infiltrates the building and kills both parties, nicking everything. Throughout this infiltration he deposits Bourne's fingerprints throughout the scene. Reporting back to his funder he is then given new instructions to assassinate Bourne in India. However, when he enters the location that his target is at, he is spotted and the pair flee the scene in a jeep. During the escape Marie gets shot in the head, killing her instantly and the jeep crashes off a bridge into a river. Thought dead, Krill leaves the location. Whilst searching through the drop off building, Bourne's fingerprints are picked up by the CIA, thus starting a man hunt for who they believe responsible. Out for revenge, and the belief that Treadstone were once again behind the assassination attempt on his life, Bourne takes a stand and begins to fight back. With both parties intent on destroying the other, many new conspiracies are found and through these many peoples life are changed forever.
The plot for this film was highly engrossing, the add to the characters who return from the first film add more to the narrative of both movies. Those characters that are only introduced in this movie fit into the context of this movie completely. With another conspiracy added to the already established mix, the film is able to turn what was already great in the original into something that, as story-lines go, has gotten stronger. Unlike many sequels that usually don't work, this sequel does completely. A fact that is achieved by the brilliant source material, and hard work of all those that were involved in the development.
Unlike the first movie, this film has a smaller principle cast. Matt Damon is back in the title role, but unlike 'Identity' he carries the film narrative, besides the opening ten minutes, alone. This allows the film to feel more like his story and not a tangle of interlocking story-lines that confused the first one to the ends reveal. Having got used to the role of Bourne in the original production, Matt Damon is once again extremely comfortable in the role that he has made his own. With the demise of Chris Cooper in the last movie, Joan Allen has stepped in to fill the void left by his character. Filling the role with a complete compatibility to the franchise, Joan Allen is an instant blend adjusting peoples perception on her character as needed. Rival assassins, portrayed by Karl Urban and Marton Csokas, counter the perception audience members should have to Bourne. Adding to the mystery of the story, these characters throughout never give over the fact of who they are inlined with. In the action sequences that involve their characters with conflict to Bourne, the pair deliver outstanding skill in what has been choreographed for them to do. These sequences are highly entertaining, and will have audience members gripped to what is being shown.
It is to be noted, however, this film is very unforgiving to those who have not took the time in watching the first installment. The plot can be deemed confusing on first viewing, with many plot-lines being very broad. This is the only minor flaw to the film.
Paul Greengrass has stepped into an already begun franchise, and has filled his responsibility admirably. Utilizing the strengths at his disposal with a style in-keeping with the original film, Greengrass has managed to make a sequel that could be argued as better than the first. Damon once again portrays the title role with the talent that he possesses. Once again this film shows that thriller movies do not need to have explosions and instead can focus on a realistic styling to convey the message it intends.