This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Andrew Buckley’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The Bourne Supremacy has always been my favorite out of the original trilogy of films, and a stronger effort than the somewhat tepid original, as I've always felt this is a result of series-newcomer Paul Greengrass finding a near-perfect direction for his distinctively visceral storytelling, while Tony Gilroy's screenplay brings in an unexpected, understated focus on character and pathos, resulting in what I can only describe as one of the best action movies of the new millennium.
Ironically, compared to other action movies, Supremacy really doesn't have all that much er, ACTION, in it; there's one brutally drawn out fight-to-the-death at the halfway point, and one of the best car chases in recent memory during the climax, but besides those, there really aren't any other significant action scenes in the movie. However, Greengrass doesn't need a bunch of mindless violence to keep our interest, rather, he utilizes raw storytelling energy to keep the tension piano wire-tight, always keeping the plot moving along in a concise, ruthless fashion, never pausing for breath unless it suits the scene, almost always having something of relevance happening or developing.
We discover new information ONLY as the characters themselves do, always having us see things from their perspective exclusively, which combines with the film's atmosphere of paranoia, intrigue, and conspiracy to make us feel like we ourselves are constantly being hunted. This movie's like a shark in this, in that it never, EVER stops moving, and I couldn't be more thankful for that.
But, another major factor that distingushes TBS is how unexpectedly personal it is; unlike the first film, where Bourne was just a lost, confused amnesiac, he has a much more immediate motivater this time around, after the murder of his girlfriend, Marie. This is what brings him out of hiding, but her death doesn't just serve as some generic "fridging", but rather, her memory lingers on within Jason, as he remembers how she wanted him to move on from his previous life of death.
This is why Bourne only seeks justice for her murder, instead of revenge, and the various ways Bourne struggles to honor Marie's wishes throughout adds a lot, whether it be his refusal to kill the men responsible for her death (although he still brings them to justice in other ways), or finding the time while on the run to track down the orphan of his first victims, so he can tell her he's sorry, and that he now understand what it it feels like to lose someone.
However, if that sounds overly sentimental in theory, it doesn't in practice, as Greengrass tackles it with the same level of craft he does everything else, keeping it in balance with all the other elements that he so expertly juggles here. As I said before, The Bourne Supremacy is overall an unusually intelligent, efficient, and focused spy thriller, and, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the best action films of its decade. "Bourne again" indeed...
Final Score: 9