The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The Bourne Supremacy has one thing going for it that its predecessor didn’t have: The plot doesn’t feel like it was over-extended. If Identity had one big problem, it was that the plot that I cared about ended 30 or so minutes before the film concluded, meaning that those 30 minutes were ones that I didn’t care much about. Supremacy doesn’t have this problem, and as a result, feels a lot shorter than the last film in the series.

Once again, our lead actor is Matt Damon, playing the slightly less amnesiac Jason Bourne. After the events of the first film, Jason and his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) have moved to India, and have been living there for a couple of years now. For some reason, despite claiming otherwise in the first film, Bourne is still trying to remember events likely better left forgotten. Did he forget that he didn’t want to remember his past?

Regardless, he and his girlfriend seem to have a good life in India, and haven’t been bothered for all of their time down there. This changes the day after the film opens, when Bourne sees the same man twice in one small interval of time. He grabs Marie and they attempt to flee. After this scene, she takes a leave of absence for the rest of the film, and Bourne goes on a mission to track down the one who attempted to kill the two of them. Unlike the previous film, Supremacy is a revenge film.

We also get scenes of the agency that Chris Cooper was a part of in the last film. He’s been replaced by Joan Allen, playing a very similar role but with slightly more sympathy for Bourne. Brian Cox also returns, and he and Allen get to go head-to-head when deciding how to deal with the “threat” that Jason Bourne currently is. Their interactions somehow have more tension than most of the action scenes in the film, and are almost always more interesting.

Speaking of the action scenes, they return, but in a lesser capacity. There are fewer of them, and they aren’t as exciting as they previously were. There is even an attempt to outdo the marvelous car chase from Identity — a scene that is actually the final action scene of the film — but it doesn’t even come close. It’s bigger and louder, but fails to give off the same shock and awe that the original garnered.

The reason for this is simple: We don’t have a secondary character to relate with. The first film had Marie around for almost every scene with Bourne. We felt like we were in a similar position to her; we barely knew who Mr. Bourne was and what he was capable of. Now we know all of this, and we don’t have any connection to the secondary characters. Nobody replaces her throughout the film, meaning Jason and Jason alone is who we watch for the majority of the time. We don’t feel like he can be hurt, and this takes away a lot of the tension from the so-called “thrilling” scenes.

While the story of Supremacy doesn’t feel as long as Identity‘s did, it also feels less involving. A lot of what made Identity‘s flaws easy to overlook was how well the viewer seemed to fit into this world. This time around, we feel like we’re watching a near-superhuman man hunt for clues and kill some people. He doesn’t seem like a normal person, and apart from his sole motivating factor, has no reason for us to give him sympathy. The story also ended up getting slightly convoluted near the middle, but thankfully this confusion doesn’t last long.

One of the complaints I did have with Identity was the fact that the payoff at the end of the film was not worth it. For the main story, this is once again a criticism I have. Things get resolved that you didn’t even think needed resolving, and I actually had expected the film to continue another thirty minutes. I was left wondering if that was it. However, after the main story gets wrapped up, there are two brilliant scenes right at the end that gave me goosebumps. They’re memorable and they’ll likely leave you with a good final thought about the film as the credits roll.

In the end, I’m not sure if I liked Supremacy or Identity more. Each had their separate flaws, but I’m inclined to give the edge to Identity. This film definitely wasn’t bad, but it had less action scenes and less depth in the characters throughout. Not having another female lead replace Marie after she departs from the film didn’t allow us to see the world from anything other than Jason Bourne’s point of view, and that’s one of an unstoppable, determined force. This leads to the action scenes being less thrilling and entertaining, and when they are already fewer and less memorable than in the last film, this is a bad thing. Supremacy is still worth seeing, but I don’t think it was quite as good as The Bourne Identity was.

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