The Bourne Supremacy (PG-13)

“They should have left him alone,” but aren’t we so glad they didn’t? Matt Damon returns as Jason Bourne (or so he thinks) in “The Bourne Supremacy.”

“The Bourne Supremacy” is the second big screen adaptation of the classic espionage and intrigue novels penned by Robert Ludlum. When last we left Bourne, he and gal-pal Marie (Franka Potente) were fashioning a quiet life for themselves on an obscure beach far away from the all-seeing eyes of the CIA, Project Treadstone had been “terminated” by Ward Abbott (Brian Cox), and it looked as though Bourne would be able to quietly spend his remaining days inside love’s sweet embrace.

For most movie fans, the inciting incident shouldn’t be too hard to call. In fact, you’ve probably surmised it from the trailer. Obviously something has to happen to set Bourne off and as heartbreaking as that event might seem it introduces the audience to a whole new dimension of this wonderful character called Jason Bourne. Matt Damon handles Bourne with a masterful perfection few actors ever achieve in an action role. It is hard to believe Damon has become an action star, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense. After all, a real spy and/or assassin would have to blend into society, possess the charisma to manipulate people as well as situations and locations with ease, and vanish without a trace. Damon is just tall enough, just short enough, just good looking enough, and just average-looking enough to fit the bill. At this point it is hard to imagine any one else in this role. His brooding tenacity makes for a powerful onscreen presence. In all actuality, he’s the kind of action hero we’ve always wanted.

Joan Allen steps into “Supremacy” as Pamela Landy, a multidimensional adversary in her own right. Ostensibly she’s an ambitious, career-driven woman working her way up the CIA echelon of power and control. When Bourne’s fingerprint turns up at a murder scene, Landy quickly maneuvers for position, taking her newly acquired security clearance as license to turn Treadstone inside out. She leaves no stone unturned, kicking Abbott and Nicky (Julia Stiles) right out from under their respective rocks, but there is much more to her character than blind ambition and Allen’s performance is exemplary.

Cox reprises his role with veteran-like tenacity and Stiles certainly took things up a notch for this film. She has one scene in particular that is way ahead of anything in her career thus far. All these actors owe their performances, at least in part, to Tony Gilroy and his skillful adaptation of Ludlum’s story. No doubt the intricate plot will leave some scratching their heads, but hardcore movie fans can appreciate its complexity. “Supremacy” doesn’t dumb itself down for a teenage audience in spite of the PG-13 rating and I find that most refreshing.

Director Paul Greengrass sets a frantic and furious pace, maintaining the intensity and suspense throughout the course of the film. Richard Pearson and Christopher Rouse flawlessly chopped this film, especially one extraordinary fight sequence in which Bourne takes on the last remaining Treadstone assassin. Their effort makes Damon look like a true expert in hand-to-hand combat.

For the intellectual moviegoer, The Bourne Series works because it never compromises by exchanging plot for cheap thrills or character for cliché the way so many action flicks do these days. For that, The Bourne Supremacy garners my highest rating–HOT DATE.

From a Christian Perspective (Warning! Possible Spoilers Ahead): Jason Bourne and Pamela Lundy are marvelous characters that make almost all the right choices throughout the story. Lundy’s true motivation is a desire to see justice done. Only two people die at Bourne’s hands, both of them in self-defense. Bourne constantly spares others along the way. The language is relatively tame for PG-13 and the violence pretty standard for that same rating class. Themes include dealing with past sins, asking for forgiveness, and searching for the truth. Think twice about taking young children, but for the most part “The Bourne Supremacy” will provide a much better alternative than standard PG-13 flair.