Review: “The Bourne Supremacy”

So it may be the most ‘visually shaky’ movie since “The Blair Witch Project”, but even the unstable cinematography can’t hide the fact that “Supremacy” is just as good (if not better than) its superb predecessor, although audiences will be a little more divided than last time.

2002’s “The Bourne Identity” was a breath of fresh but familiar air in the spy thriller genre. After many films which relied more on the special effects and set pieces than anything else, here was a smart espionage drama which depended far more on its characters much like the great thrillers of the 70’s, but combined it with a fast paced modern execution style to yield an old fashioned, almost European movie done on a Hollywood budget.

“Supremacy” does what a sequel should do – follow the same style and tone of its predecessor but expands on the characters, the story and the action. Combined with a new director in the form of Paul Greengrass, “Supremacy” looks very different to “Identity” even if it contains much of the grounded and more realistic elements of intelligence work that set the first film apart. That said the action is faster, more intense and admittedly towards the end takes precedence over the story. The result is ‘Bourne’ with a dash of Bond and Hollywood in it which will turn some off but will be more easily ingested by others.

The script is solid and throws us right into the middle of things from the get go, cleverly covering events in the first film whilst exploring some of the smaller roles. Cox and Stiles in particular, essentially window dressing in “Identity”, get some juicy stuff to do here. All the actors deliver superb performances from a more gruff action man Damon, to Allen’s smart investigator, the aforementioned Cox & Stiles, and even Urban as a Russian assassin. There’s not a weak link in the chain.

Aside from the more Hollywood elements of the film, the biggest debate will be over Oliver Wood’s cinematography. Greengrass and Wood use a lot of handheld cameras that wobble, pan quickly and move in very un-filmic ways. The aim is obviously make you feel like you’re right there in the middle of all the action watching events unfold. Some will click to it, but others will find it so jarring that the whole film will feel like the cold distant exercise that real spywork involves.

Personally though I loved it, as it stands “Supremacy” is one of my favourite films of the year so far and yet another of the all reason-defying examples of sequels that are as good as if not better than their earlier films that seem to have popped up in force this Summer.