Back in 2002, the espionage genre must have felt a little like Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne at the start of this trilogy, floating unconscious in the Mediterranean Sea with a bullet in the back after the abysmal CGI tsunami of Die Another Day and the shallow, clichéd hotchpotch of Mission Impossible 2, although they may have envied Bourne’s lack of memory. Thank the heavens then for the metaphorical fishing vessel of star Damon, director Doug Liman and writer Tony Gilroy for bringing this energetic affair to the screen, both setting up Damon as a bona fide action star and throwing the gauntlet at the feet of Bond and Ethan Hunt to step it up a gear (both of whom willingly accepting the challenge with Casino Royale’s gritty realism and MI3’s intelligent action).
Utilising a frenetic handheld camera style, an impromptu approach to weaponry (could you kill someone with a biro? I don’t even like writing with one) and almost an entire cast who seem to be as much in the dark about what’s going on as we are this is a new approach to blockbuster entertainment.
Whilst Identity leaves the ending without anything approaching a satisfying conclusion (forgivable in the setup for a series), Supremacy takes it further by blowing up anything associated with its predecessor anyway, before Ultimatum has the inspired audacity to stage most of its content between the last two acts of the second film. The latter two films, with Liman having handed the reins to United 93’s Paul Greengrass, are even more frantic than the first, showcasing free running, high speed chases around European cities and Bourne getting one over on the agents pursuing him. It’s also nice to see that this ‘malfunctioning thirty million dollar weapon’ is not infallible; there are some T-1000s to his T-800. Also, the Bourne trilogy should be rewarded for naming its films alphabetically, so DVD collections worldwide can run chronologically (damn you, Bill & Ted!), something surely to be ruined by the upcoming Bourne Legacy.
The Bourne Identity Choose film 7/10
The Bourne Supremacy Choose film 8/10
The Bourne Ultimatum Choose film 9/10