Film In a recent interview, Matt Damon admitted that he had stopped being bankable. No particular reason -- a string of films like The Legend of Bagger Vance which weren't so much bad as poorly received on release often because they hit the cinemas at the wrong time or couldn't find an audience which could appreciate their charms. It was quite shocking actually -- with my approach to cinema at no point would I consider Damon not to be A-lister but generally in Hollywood he's perceived as dashing along in his friend Ben Affleck's stead even when he too is also going through a rough patch.

It's impossible to square that perception with the man who appears in The Bourne Supremecy. Throughout this film he has an extraordinary presence, as whole scenes passby in which the plot is carried through his shape and movement. Much of his dialogue (written by Tony Gilroy who also adapted The Bourne Identity) consists of questions and throughout by the look in his eye you know he won't stop until someone gives him a satisfactory answer. It's a very difficult balancing act for any actor and he pulls it off brilliantly even as the frame of the handheld camera shifts and dashes about.

Supremacy manages to somehow create a coherent continuation to the previous film while at the same time (pardoning the pun) carving an identity of its own. Where last time, director Doug Liman's unconventionality was creating compelling characterisation within a traditional spy film framework, here Paul Greengrass throws out the rules of a conventional action film with fractured pacing and impressionistic chases and fight scenes which at times reduce our perception to the bare minimum, seemingly hundreds of shots underlining the odds which Bourne escapes time after time. To some extent it reminded me of 21 Grams, as the viewer has to piece together what is happening or what happened. It's not quite as fractured as that film -- despite the disorientation at no point are you unable to follow the happenings on a moment by moment basis. The cinematography is extraordinarily European and accomplished which is odd considering Oliver Wood's work since that last film (Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Freaky Friday, National Security, I Spy and The Adventures of Pluto Nash for goodness sake). It's almost as though given a great director and material he will go to town (much like Laszlo Kovacs I suppose).

It's been said before but I want to re-iterate once more. It used to be that a sequel would not only be poorer of quality but also diminish its parent. But we now seem to be going through a period in which these films not only continue all of the features which made their prequels great but in some respects exceed them. The magic of Supremacy is that the most satisfying elements of Identity return -- in acting terms that's Franke Potente, Brian Cox and Julia Styles, in plot terms that's the overall conspiracy -- but are slowly stripped away until the only element left is the man lost in the life someone else created. If the franchise were to finish here, the ending is utterly satisfying. But since The Bourne Ultimatum is already in the planning stages I look forward to seeing Matt Damon return again to a character which will surely become his signature.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to hear such positive words about "Supremacy". I absolutely loved "Identity" and it's good to know a fan of that likes the sequel a lot. Looking forward to it.