Movie #128 The Bourne Supremacy
(2004, US, d. Paul Greengrass)
One of the first great action films of the last decade, The Bourne Supremacy is praise-worthy not only for being a wonderfully scripted (or not scripted if you know the backstory of production) but also for being an incredibly taut thriller anchored by a strong lead performance by Matt Damon. Luckily when the film was released in 2004, it already had a very solid market share from the success of its predecessor The Bourne Identity, which was a milestone in own right. Its director, Doug Liman, did not return for the sequels and instead was replaced by Paul Greengrass, who turned the series on its head and put out two of its sequels, which in a rare event in film history, were each better than the last. The Bourne Supremacy, I would argue, has spurred more replicas, rip-offs, and serves as a template for inspiration for more action movies than any other film has in the past 20 years. The shaky camera, “gritty” feel, realistic touch, and fast-paced editing has been replicated in nearly every decent to very good thriller in the past 6 years. But apart for what it did to cinema, Greengrass’s masterpiece is a very solid thriller on its own. We are back to watching our favorite screen amnesiac as he struggles to recount another important memory from his past just as that same past is catching up with him to often violent repercussions. The story also has all the trademarks of writer Tony Gilroy, who infuses nearly every script he writes with a dense level of subtext that the audience can never really dissect and an almost impossible plot to follow the first time that still manages to engage the audience fully. John Powell’s score is fantastic and all the supporting actors (especially Brian Cox and Joan Allen) bring a life to roles that could easily have been very two-dimensional characters. Though (thankfully) not as good as the third installment, The Bourne Supremacy is a wonderfully written, acted, and directed piece of cinema that whether or not conscious, will serve as inspiration for years to come.