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Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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Bourne 3 Best in Series

Unlike everybody else, I didn't really get into the other two Bourne movies (Identity and Supremacy). I thought they had a cool premise, and I love Matt Damon as an action hero, but something about them just didn't work. I was particularly bumped by some of the insane logic in the second movie, along with its way-too-frenetic pace that culminated in the longest and most confusing car chase that I think I've ever attempted watching. The third in the series, The Bourne Ultimatum, has many of the problems that plagued the first two, but it has enough well designed action scenes that I could get behind it.

Director Paul Greengrass, who helmed the second part, returns here and unfortunately so does the beyond hyperactive editing style he brought to the series, though nothing as bad as that incomprehensible third from the second film. What he gets so very right in the third flick is the pacing. We are almost entirely done with the moping, weepy Bourne from part two, and there is just enough character development in between the action scenes to build some emotional resonance for the set pieces.

The plot is basically the same as the first two. Bourne is having flashbacks that he has to piece together, some new CIA bad dudes are out to get to him (CIA guys, when you will learn to not antagonize your unstoppable assassins?) and the good people at the CIA (aka the women) try to covertly help him out. Just like before, the plot is filled with gigantic holes -- why exactly is Julia Stiles in the movie again and doesn't anyone at the CIA lock their doors? -- but for some reason I was less put off by them.

My willing suspension of disbelief this time is aided by some just truly tremendous action scenes, especially a stunning foot chase through a crowded Waterloo Station. It's sort of like the chase in the mall in Minority Report, only with a cooler protagonist. I actually think that Bourne may be more psychic than the precogs in that other film, and to boot he's completely invincible.

I'm still not really sure what to make of this series, honestly. I like the attempt at a darker and grittier spy action series, but at least the James Bond universe's somewhat cartoony feel to it helps explain away why nobody can ever hit Bond with automatic rifles. In the more realistic Bourne universe, I get bumped when I see Damon drive his car off a building and emerge unscathed. He takes more punishment than any action hero this side of the Terminator and never seems worse for the wear. Even John McClane gets a little bloody from time to time.

Maybe it's just that I've been so barraged with incomprehensible summer movies this year that the critical section of my brain has finally given up in disgust, but I had a good time with Bourne. I still wish it were smarter and more realistic, but clearly that's not what we're getting here. If the series continues, I'll be there for part four.

(One thing I am still curious about is why this was called Ultimatum. As near as I can tell, there is no ultimatum given in this movie. If anything, parts one and two -- when Bourne is actively threatening the bad CIA dudes trying to kill him -- had more right to the title than this one.)

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