The Bourne Supremacy
An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


       What have we here?  “The Bourne Supremacy,” worthy successor to “The Bourne Identity,” gives us CIA, The Cold War, spies, betrayal, and mystery.  If you feel you’re in a time warp, you are.  Nothing changed more after 9/11 than the world of espionage and intelligence.  This is a movie of the ‘90s, an action thriller that doesn’t send us from the theater listening for the sounds of contemporary terror.  Instead, we leave with the simple pleasure of several good-forever staples:  spectacular car chases, an evil traitor, and an up-to-date, ambitious woman. 

       Imagine an amnesiac who discovers in times of immediate crisis that he can kill with one swift motion of the hand.  Who am I?  What did I do?  He may not remember anything about himself, but in his subconscious, his training has left him with acute perception of all physical and emotional threats.  His vision and hearing sweep the periphery with uncanny accuracy, surprising us- and himself – with explosive instincts.  With a mind that sees trouble just in time to snuff if out with laser reflexes, he doesn’t know whether he is a good guy or bad, whether his pursuers wear white hats or black.  He knows only that he is highly trained in self-preservation. Matt Damon has stamped himself on this role.  He has mastered both the purposeful walk and the life saving run.  You will never again think of him at rest.  He can drive too.  If you don’t like car chases, this might not be for you, but remember, it’s colorful, distracting, and it’s acted well.

     One sure thing:  It’s never safe to be Bourne’s girlfriend (Franka Potente.)  Far better to be in the promising shoes of Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) who sees the capture of Jason Bourne as a grand career step.  Played by Joan Allen, who makes every role she plays interesting even when it isn’t, Pamela is smart and has the intriguing  promise of an open mind that can find the twists. 

     If you feel lost in the early plot confusion, just give up trying to follow it and enjoy Damon and Allen as they make the most of what they are given – which is a lot.  We follow them around India, Berlin, Munich, Naples, Moscow, New York, and London, spending most of our time in whizzing yellow taxis. 

       The details of Operation Treadstone, a CIA operation closed two years earlier, unfold to the rhythm of a noisy, but appealing soundtrack that sets the fast pace of the movie.  Everyone talks at once, vehicles race through the world’s capitals, but somehow it’s all good fun.  It is a relief not to see a tidal wave rushing through Manhattan or a landscape laid bare by radiation.  There is no personal identification factor in a Bourne movie.  The 90s have become history, a kind of benign video game, because we got through it, didn’t we?  Take a chance.


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