starring Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Joan Allen
screenplay by Tony Gilroy and George Nolfi, based on the novel by Robert Ludlum
directed by Paul Greengrass
by Walter Chaw I look at the first film in this very fine trilogy as Jason Bourne embodying Harrison Ford's Deckard character from Blade Runner: someone with hidden potential and a certain confusion about his place in the world--and the kind of figure Matt Damon is best at portraying, as it happens. I see the second film as Bourne-as-Roy Batty: robotic, violent, inexorable, and at the end of his string, valuing life and looking to make what amends he can. This third film, The Bourne Ultimatum, directed again by Paul Greengrass and welcoming several key players (Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, Damon, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, DP Oliver Wood) back into the fold, ties both strings together: Bourne inhabiting his potential as something of an unparalleled killing machine while, simultaneously, becoming more human in his machine-like purposefulness. If there's a feeling we've been here before, mark that down as the inevitable side-effect of staying just a little too long with a series that, to this point, had yet to make any missteps, minor or otherwise. Consequently this film, more than the other two, feels like a straight line: less improvisation, more inevitability, all of it leading to the moment where our hero, the merciless assassin, decides whether his training to be an instrument overrules his instinct to be a human. It can't be a surprise anymore, so all that's left is that it be true.