Retrospective Film Review: Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Supremacy

The second film of the twelve-book franchise (we have The Bourne Betrayal/Sanction/Deception/Objective/Dominion/Imperative/Retribution and Ascendancy to go) remains the strongest of the to-date four-film franchise, a blisteringly skeleton-shattering tale of mind control, identity-seeking, and duplicitous quadruple and quintuple crosses.

The film picks up from where The Bourne Identity left off, with Jason and Marie making a go of things in Palolem, India. He’s still plagued by frustrating and fragmented blurs of his previous life, and she’s become his rock, persuading him to keep a journal of his collected memories in the hope everything will come together. Their idyll is suddenly and shockingly shattered however when Bourne’s black-ops masters Treadstone – now Blackbriar – seek to tie up their remaining loose end.

Director Paul Greengrass, who inherited the sequel from Doug Liman, creates a leaner and more muscular picture than its predecessor. The action is more thoughtfully choreographed (culminating in the most brutally supreme of car chases), the narrational machinations are insidiously and satisfyingly complex, and Matt Damon gives a performance of great range and delicacy, torn as Jason Bourne is, between using what he is to discover who he is. The recent NSA revelations have suddenly thrown any film that confronts mass surveillance under a new light, but there’s a very honest, un-Hollywood feel to The Bourne Supremacy, in the way it uses its characters not merely as tokens with which to carry the action, but as human beings who front the real cost of our brave new world.

Words: Ash Verjee