Bourne Ultimatum, The (2007)

Rated: PG-13
Grade: ACBB=A-
Budget: $110 million
Box Office: $227 million US, $214 million int’l, $16 million DVD

Directed by: Paul Greengrass, who previously made Bourne Supremacy (though not Identity) and United 93.
Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Straithairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez, Albert Finney, and Joan Allen.
In this third of the trilogy (so far), Jason Bourne finally comes after the very people who turned him into a super-spy-killing-machine.

Entertainment Value: A
One of the best action movies of the year so far. It’s that simple. Yes, it’s a bit on the frantic side at times, especially with the jumpy camera effect of which I’m not a fan. But if action movie you desire, action movie Bourne delivers.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality A, Violence D, Language C, Illegality C
One thing I find well worthy of praise here is that there’s not even a hint of sex. It’s rightly a PG-13 for all the action violence and killing, however, which includes some remembered scenes of neo-torture in water. The language is well within the normal PG-13 boundaries and is certainly not gratuitous. One word of caution, although the movie itself is clean but for language and violence, the very first ad on the DVD is for American Pie: Beta House, which has more than enough smutty content in it to make offset the lack in the main feature. Why they promoted that movie on this DVD I do not know.

Significant Content: B
Truth will overcome deception. Decency and honor mean standing for principles even when they are inconvenient. And super-secret government conspiracies to turn humans into killing machines never prosper. Bad guys should be killed when necessary, spared when possible, but in any case prosecuted vigorously.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
As I said, I’m not a fan of the frantic camera-jumping style of action film-making. Otherwise, the plot is excellent, complicated, and relatively thought-provoking, which is a luxury in such a movie. There is one part of the movie that stands out as implausible (aside from Super-Damon recovering instantly from a myriad of crazy physical events). It’s the part where he tells the bad guys about being in the office. Tactically that made no sense at all, even if keeping the plot tense depended on it.

Discussion Questions:
~Do the ends justify the means? In what sense is our identity as Americans tied to our absolute commitment to opposing certain methods of winning? What do you think of Bourne using very similar methods to undermine the project of those who are using them illegally on behalf of the United States? Isn’t he doing exactly what they are doing: whatever is necessary to defeat an enemy who refuses to follow such rules at all?
~What distinguishes Jason Bourne from the people he is attacking? How about the other “assets” used to try to kill him? Why do you think Bourne extends mercy to them?
~To what degree are we responsible for the choices we make? If you make a choice which you later really regret, are you still bound by it? Are you still responsible for it? Why or why not?
~In what sense would you say that this movie is about repentance and restitution? Is Bourne a Christian archetype?
~Given that Matt Damon is the star and many of the other actors are notable liberals, do you think this movie is meant to be a criticism of the military operations in Iraq? To what degree are the “assets” intended as symbolic representatives of our entire military? Consider, especially, the conversation on the rooftop. Would your answer be different if the movie had come out a few years ago or a few years from now? How do you tell a movie which was intended as political commentary from one which can simply be taken that way if you’re hypersensitive to the issues?
~Do you believe the United States government has a secret assassin program? If it did, would that be acceptable to you?
~What’s the difference between revenge and justice? What techniques does this movie use to make you feel more comfortable about the sort of actions that Bourne does and even enjoy them as being righteous?
Overall Grade: A-
I like to judge movies on what they are trying to be, hence, what I expect from them. This movie was exactly what I expected, and good at it.

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