The Bourne Ultimatum Review
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When I was a kid, my family got a video camera. It was big and clunky, but Dad took it everywhere. Despite the hours of footage that we have stored somewhere, though—and I’m sure it’s fascinating stuff—I haven’t actually watched much of it. Because when Dad walks, it’s shaky. When he zooms, it’s blurry—and then it’s shaky. Whenever I try to watch it, I get sick.

I can understand Dad’s shaky home movie footage—he never claimed to be a professional. Paul Greengrass, however, is a professional. But the Bourne trilogy director still produces footage that looks a lot like Dad’s old home movies (just in much cooler locations). While Dad had just one heavy camera and a blank VHS tape, though, Greengrass actually had a whole bunch of expensive equipment and a professional crew and a budget of around $125 million. Don’t you think, then, that he could make a movie that’s fast-paced and exciting without causing me to spend two hours in the theater with my eyes half-closed, begging my stomach to please, please, please hold on to the spaghetti and meatballs that I had for dinner? You would think so. But you would be wrong. Because even if you rarely suffer from motion sickness, The Bourne Ultimatum will make your head spin. The camera pans too far, then corrects itself. Then it zooms in too far, until the picture is blurry, then corrects itself. Even when capturing a conversation between two characters, the camera is in constant motion, panning and shaking and moving in and out of focus.

In the moments that you’ll actually be able to watch, though, The Bourne Ultimatum is a pretty cool movie—if seriously light on plot. The story follows the former CIA killer (played by Matt Damon) as he tries to solve the mysteries of his past. A reporter in London appears to have a contact who knows all about Bourne—who he is and where he came from. So, as Bourne’s memory starts to gradually return, he sets out to find the contact and get some answers. But the CIA knows what he’s after—and they plan to stop him before he finds out too much.

Basically, The Bourne Ultimatum is a chase movie. There isn’t much of a story, but there’s a whole lot of action. The film travels from Italy to England to Spain to Morocco and back to the States as Bourne races to find the answers before the CIA finds him. And, in a way, the shaky action scenes look realistic, as though they’re filmed by some guy who’s holding a camera while bounding behind on foot—or while chasing behind in his car. But it’s just too much. So if you happen to suffer from motion sickness, be warned: this is one rough ride.

On the other hand, if you can stomach footage that appears to have been shot by a cameraman who’s either going through some sort of withdrawal or who’s filming while riding down a flight of stairs in a child’s wagon, The Bourne Ultimatum is an exciting film. The story may be simple, but the non-stop action and the thrilling chase scenes make up for it. And Bourne is just a cool character who’s smart enough to know what everyone else will do before they even do it.

If you do choose to see it, though, it might be wise to wait at least a couple of hours after eating before heading to the theater. Then take some Dramamine, just in case.

DVD Review:
Motion sickness inducing or not, The Bourne Ultimatum is still one cool chase movie. And if you watch it on DVD, in the comfort of your own home, at least you can pause it when you start to feel sick. You can lie down for a while, do a shot of Pepto, and start back where you left off.

Even if you can’t understand why Paul Greengrass feels the need to make movies that make people sick, The Bourne Ultimatum DVD’s special features will give you a whole new appreciation for the movie—and the process that went into making it. On the DVD, you’ll find a bunch of deleted scenes that provide more of the story—as well as a commentary with Greengrass. Also included are five behind-the-scenes features that take you to all of the movie’s locations—from Berlin to Tangier. They show the challenges involved in shooting on location (often in busy train stations), and they show how Matt Damon trained for his demanding role—from car chases to fist fights. You’ll even see how some of the scenes were filmed.

If you’ve ever been mesmerized by movie magic, The Bourne Ultimatum DVD will give you a great behind-the-scenes look at the process. Bourne fans and casual viewers alike will find the features fascinating—and you won’t even need to take Dramamine first.

Ed. Note: For more on the Jason Bourne movies, check out N&’s reviews of The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy.

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