The Bourne Supremacy ★★★★½

The story of Jason Bourne continues in this superior first sequel to The Bourne Identity. Paul Greengrass takes over the reigns as directer replacing Doug Liman and instantly instils the sense of conviction I felt Liman's film lacked for all it's strong points. Supremacy see's Bourne living out his live in some kind of paradise with his girlfriend Marie but it seems he is still in search of the answers to the proverbial question, who is he? Bourne is quickly forced back into action after he is framed for murdering two CIA men, so is afforded the opportunity to confront the questions head on.

Being forced out of his new found live has some terrible consequences (and incredible motivators) for Bourne as Marie is killed in the ensuing escape from Bourne's would be killer. When it comes to being framed for murder it is all well and good that you would be out to clear your name but the thing about Bourne is he doesn't actually really know his name to begin with, the existential question he is really asking is who is he and why is he? The film can be quite complex, weaving in this story of spies and shady government operatives is a great character study, a great sense of redemption, Bourne has to deal with Pamela Landy's CIA Operation into his supposed murders whilst also dealing with the people who set him up but he also has to deal with that identity crisis that the first film sets up well.

The reason the film is so successful in the end is because Greengrass and Damon are willing to delve deep into the mind of Bourne as a character, his determination to seek the truth, his haunted visions of the past and his truly devastating confrontation with the consequences of this past. Damon so fantastically conveys a sense of bereavement, he has lost Marie and he has essentially lost himself. He is also even more impressive on a physical level than in Identity but the film is less concerned about that side of things this time out.

Which is not to say way don't get a lot of action, because we surely so! I just think there is greater balance on display here and subsequently a greater sense of pace and rhythm to the film. People can go ether way with the Greengrass shaky cam technique but for me in his capable hands it add's such a great sense of urgency to everything, especially the action. Here, in Supremacy the action is less interested in guns and shoot outs and more interested in on foot pursuits, car chases and deadly one on one combat. Shooting guns is actually a rarity in the film even if the presence of firearms is still strong. The two stand out moments of action for me has to be the end car chase with Bourne using a Russian cab to try and evade Karl Urban's villain or the brilliant and brutal one on one fight between Bourne and the last Treadstone's agents. It's a more minimal affair as Greengrass lets the big boys do the talking, no music is necessary, just the pummelling sound of fists or bodies crashing into walls. It's as efficient a scene as the two men are killers.

Elsewhere the film's narrative is much more engaging. The CIA scenes are bolstered and feel more at one with the piece and Joan Allen as Landy gives brilliant support, as does Brian Cox who we know from the first film is a rather shady character. The films retracing of Bourne's steps as a killer produces the best part of the film though. Flashbacks that haunt Bourne lead him to a hotel where his Treadstone training was complete. His first kill! A harrowing experience, it forces Bourne to confront the action he had taken and the regret he now succumb to. In seeking out the daughter of the couple he killed Bourne heartbreakingly confesses his actions to her. It validates what Greengrass is trying to achieve but putting the focus on the character not the action and frankly Matt Damon absolutely nails this pivotal moment! He may be a killer but he was human first.

Supremacy's, not Identity really gave the action thriller genre a shot in the arm. There is plot, narrative, character and a real sense of urgency all of which is finely balanced. Greengrass and Damon would team up again for Ultimatum, the final part of Bourne's story. It would go on to take Supremacy's success and run wild with it!

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