Bourne Ultimatum – Will Someone Get This Man A Steadicam?

The Bourne Ultimatum   C+

Starring Matt Damon, Joan Allen, and David Strathairn
Directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy)
Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action
Appropriate for ages 15+

The Story: In this third and final chapter of the Bourne chronicles, Jason Bourne (Damon) is still trying to sort out who he really is and who made him into what he has become.  The U.S. government, however, has a problem with him being alive and does everything in their power to kill him.

The Good: If what you need is a two-hour-long chase film, this will cure your woes.  This is a very exciting film with tons of great chase and fight sequences.  Also, the cast of actors is first rate and they all turn in very good performances.

The Bad: The biggest problem with this pic is the same problem with the second film: the way it is shot.  Director Paul Greengrass puts the camera right into the middle of the action where we can’t focus on anything, and then shakes the camera around in order to make it worse.  I left the theater nauseated and with a headache.  Either he has never heard of a steadicam, or he thinks that audiences are ADD enough to appreciate this style of film making. 

    Another major problem is that the plot is way too similar to the first two films.  Jason has amnesia, he wants to know more about his old self, he sorta remembers a government official that might clear things up, and then he goes after them.  Meanwhile, the government official wants him dead.  While the story works, it’s just a retread of what came before it, told slightly different and in more exotic locales in order to freshen things up. 

The Summary: If theaters had sold Dramamine at the concession stand, this might have been a better experience for me.

23 Replies to “Bourne Ultimatum – Will Someone Get This Man A Steadicam?”

  1. I find it amusing that people continue to bitch about the camerawork when they know very well this installment is directed by the same guy who did the last one. I can stomach the complaint about the repetitive plot but this movie still trumps “Transformers”(absolutely zero plot and poor acting) and “Live Free or Die Hard”.(Probably the dumbest last half hour of a movie this side of John Woo I have ever seen.)

  2. Of course if you review movies for a living, and your problem witht the movie is the camerawork, then you should bitch about it. If you have seen on eof the previous installments, and hated the camera work, then pay to see the new oone and complain about it again, then you would have a point. But yah Transformers sucks.

  3. Well, you accomplished one thing with your review. Matt Damon accessorized your comment and turned it into a quote “Get that man a f***in’ Steadicam!” in calling out your negative review (amidst a sea of positive ones) during his Daily Show interview with Jon Stewart tonight.

  4. Thank you for mentioning the camera work. With all the great reviews, I was going to go see it. But the second movie left me with the same headache and nausea. Now I have saved money, and a very unpleasant after movie experience.

  5. What get’s me is how ANYONE can enjoy this style of directing. The people who defend it seem just as passionate as the ones who get headaches. It deeply saddens me to think that this style has caught on as much as it already has, and that movies are only going to get worse in the coming years. I am a total whore for action movies and I’ve been torn for months about whether I can be strong enough to resist seeing this movie. I know the story and action will be just what I’m looking for, but the style will make me violently angry. when I saw this style of fight scene with Ice cube in XXX-2; I assumed it was a feeble attempt to cover the fact that he is out of shape and not capable of any real action. But now I slowly come to realize that people ENJOY!? this style and it frustrates me to think of all the great movies that will be ruined. the bourne trilogy could have been the best action trilogy ever in the hands of a different director. Now the best I can hope for is that this style is a flash in the pan and wait for the bourne remakes in 20 years or so.

  6. Finally! I’m amazed at how many critics enjoy this type of direction. The beauty of the first film was its direction–great long shots–very eastern european. The second film lost that quality, and as a consequence, became just another action film. And worse, one that gave me a headache. I feel like I have to see the third one just because it’s the end, but I’ll be taking some aspirin ahead of time. This could have been a great trilogy had the second two been directed as well as the first.

  7. If they would have somehow resurrected Marie (Franka Potente) from the dead I would have considered putting up with more frenetic camera work as the price to re-experience her attractive character and the two of them as partners in the chase.
    Bourne and Marie’s relationship was the glue that made the action-flick work, not his drive to unravel his own dark history.

  8. Disappointed to read about the camerawork — it was my one complaint about “Supremacy.” I hope it’s been toned down, but I’m guessing not.

    For all the people asking “how could anyone like this style?”, just watch Children of Men, which uses similar camera work but does it perfectly.

  9. I completely agree. The camera-work in this movie was absolutely awful. It’s rather unfortunate, since the rest of the film was very good. The awful cinematography makes it a chore to watch this movie. I can’t so many critics are giving two thumbs up to this movie, when it has such a glaring flaw.

  10. I hated, hated, hated this movie because of the camera work. This shows a lack of confidence by the director. I want to see Matt Damon. I want to see Jason Bourne.

    This guy sucks. I wanted to slap Paul Greengrass’s mother from the earliest shots.

    I almost walked out.

  11. I have to believe you had all your family members write concuring your terrible review, as everyone I seen in a very Large theatre seem to love it, I am sure movies like YA YA Sister hood and other slower paced films will still be made for folks like you, its just a shame that someone so out of touch with what the “public” likes is getting paid to review movies.Your like the George bush of Movie critics.

  12. I left the theater feeling like this *might* have been a good movie, but I wasn’t sure, because I could never quite see what was happening. (And how could the guy who so nailed United 93 do *this* to me?)

  13. The reviewer’s, and subsequent commenters’ comments regarding the camera style can be summed up in two words: personal preference. As to the idiotic quip about the plot being too similar: Please turn on the light, pick up a book (3 actually) and read. The Bourne series is based on R. Ludlum’s books. To maintain the continuity of the over-arching plot line, and not totally disconnect the main character from the underlying dilemma, similarities in content were necessary. Question for the reviewer: How was the director going to change the plot to satisfy your criticism of repetitiveness? People who’ve actually read the books would have been up in arms. The mainly positive reviews this movie has received would have been overwhelmingly negative if the director had made the mistake of taking creative license to “freshen up” what didn’t need freshening.

  14. If you had bothered to even do the least bit of research, you would’ve found that Greengrass has mentioned in numerous interviews that the kinetic shots are done for the purpose of bringing the viewer into the action, making them feel as if they are part of what’s occuring on the film. It’s a style you may not like, but that’s simply a subjective value judgment and not necessarily indicative of the majority view (as proven by your station among a miniscule percentage of critics). The style is preconceived and, in my opinion, highly effective.

  15. Boy howdy!! You hit the nail on the head. This picture is nothing but a two-hour assault on the senses.

  16. JohnB – your pretentious comment evinces a common confusion among the supercilious. “Cinematography” means lighting, not camera-work.

  17. This was a useful review, which is what you want out of it – info to help you decide if you want to see the movie or not. Of course all critic reviews are personal preference, so I don’t see why a couple of comments here point that out. My personal preference is to not be so distracted/disoriented by the camera work that I can see what is happening. I love great action pieces, but if you take all this time to set it up, why not show me what is happening? I agree with Greengrass that it puts you “in the action”, which using sparingly can be good, but I’m not Jason Bourne – I’m trying watch a movie about him.

  18. Taut direction, a tight and intelligent (if ultimately derivative) script, excellent acting, bravura action sequences, wonderful locales, and intense photography and editing. What more can one want in an action flick?

    Sorry, if you can’t keep up, but this film wasn’t aimed at the senior citizen set, anyways. I suggest you head on over to TV Land, and catch up on old “Matlock” episodes…

  19. I like Matt Damon and this would have been an excellent film except for the mind numbingly stupid camera work — and very loud noises.

    Be warned, despite the fawning reviews this movie may give you a headache. I can’t stand it when a director uses cheap effects to try to make their film more interesting.

  20. I enjoyed the movie as a whole but the camera work was very distracting. You just can’t escape that fact. Whether you like that style or not, it is there and you can avoid it.

  21. Nice review overall, however I felt your rudeness involving your opinion about the shaky camera was very juvenile.
    Just because you dislike the shaky cam, does not mean that those who do, have “ADD”.
    I actually liked the style of film invoked: it allows for the intensity to last without growing repetitively.

  22. I couldn’t agree more with Danny. The ‘ADD Effect’ really killed what would have otherwise been a decent movie (if not completely redundant and predictable). Let’s hope it’s the last time we suffer ‘the shakes’.

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