Reuniting star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass, The Bourne Ultimatum ties up the original Bourne trilogy and sends off its lead character in a blistering blaze of quick-cut action and hyper-tense intrigue. The most expensive film in the franchise, The Bourne Ultimatum is also the most commercially successful having taken $440m from a budget of $100m. Loosely based on an initial script by Tony Gilroy it was released to rave reviews in 2007.
Following immediately after the events of The Bourne Supremacy in Moscow, amnesiac spy Jason Bourne (Damon) is wounded and forced to go into hiding. Six weeks later, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) a journalist for The Guardian newspaper is investigating Bourne and begins to be followed having mentioned ˜Operation Blackbriar.’ Upon hearing of this Bourne tracks down Ross, hoping that his source will lead him to the people behind ˜Operation: Treadstone’ and allow him to exact vengeance.
From the opening scene of The Bourne Ultimatum, itself the conclusion of the finale of the previous film, it’s clear that Greengrass and Damon want to send out their lead character with a bang. Almost no second of screen time is wasted as the plot hurtles to its natural conclusion and ties the whole series together with a cherry and a bow on top.
While the supporting cast including David Strathairn, Albert Finney, Joan Allen and Edgar Ramirez are all excellent, The Bourne Ultimatum belongs to one man, Jason Bourne. It is only in this third film where Damon looks old enough, and steely enough to be the epitome of the secret agent. Unassuming, lacking in Hollywood boyish good-looks that plagued the previous films, he could just as easily disappear in a crowd as he could break your neck in the blink of an eye.
Within 20 minutes of the opening of The Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne has guided Ross through an enemy agent-infested Waterloo station in one of the films truly great scenes. Packed with tension it highlights Greengrass at his best, with POV camera shots and quick-cuts used to heighten the sense dread, creating a truly uncomfortable and thrilling sequence. This is not the end of action mind, with car pursuits and foot chases that equal and in the case of Tangiers, surpass anything that has come before.
There is no doubt that The Bourne Ultimatum is the most accomplished instalment in the series thus far, and potentially the most technically proficient, tense and action-packed spy thriller of all time. Matt Damon’s most mature performance to this point, combined with director Paul Greengrass on the top of his game and it is no surprise that a fourth film was commissioned. The real shame is that neither would return. It is probably best left alone from their point of view, because The Bourne Ultimatum is pure, unalduterated action thrill-seeking at its very finest.