The Bourne Ultimatum (film)
|The Bourne Ultimatum|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Greengrass|
|Produced by||Frank Marshall
Paul L. Sandberg
|Story by||Tony Gilroy|
|Based on||The Bourne Ultimatum
by Robert Ludlum
|Music by||John Powell|
|Edited by||Christopher Rouse|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||116 minutes|
The Bourne Ultimatum is a 2007 American-German action spy thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass loosely based on the Robert Ludlum novel of the same title. The screenplay was written by Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi. The Bourne Ultimatum is the third in the Bourne film series, being preceded by The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Bourne Supremacy (2004). The fourth movie, The Bourne Legacy, was released in August 2012.
Matt Damon reprises his role as Ludlum's signature character, former CIA assassin and psychogenic amnesiac Jason Bourne. In the film, he continues his search for information about his past before he was part of Operation Treadstone and becomes a target of a similar assassin program.
The Bourne Ultimatum was produced by Universal Pictures and was released on August 3, 2007, in North America, where it grossed $69.3 million in ticket sales in its first weekend of release. This is Damon's highest-grossing film with him as the lead. The three films have been commercially successful and critically acclaimed and The Bourne Ultimatum won all three of its nominations for Academy Awards, winning the Best Film Editing, the Best Sound Mixing and the Best Sound Editing at the 80th Academy Awards.
Following his pursuit by Kirill, Jason Bourne evades Moscow police. Six weeks later, CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy divulges the audiotaped confession of Ward Abbott, the late former head of Operation Treadstone, to Director Ezra Kramer. Meanwhile, in Turin, Guardian journalist Simon Ross meets a paid informant to learn about Bourne and Operation Blackbriar, the program succeeding Treadstone. The CIA tracks Ross as he returns to London, after his mention of "Blackbriar" during a cell-phone call to his editor is detected by the ECHELON system. Bourne reappears in Paris to inform the brother of his girlfriend Marie Kreutz of her assassination in India.
Bourne reads Ross's articles and arranges a meeting with him at London Waterloo station. Bourne realizes the CIA is following Ross and helps him evade capture, but Ross deviates from Bourne's instructions and is executed by Blackbriar assassin Paz, on orders of Deputy Director Noah Vosen. Vosen's team, reluctantly assisted by Landy, analyzes Ross's notes and realize Neal Daniels, a CIA Station Chief involved with Treadstone and Blackbriar, was his source. Bourne makes his way to Daniels' office in Madrid, but finds it empty. He incapacitates gunmen sent by Vosen and Landy. Nicky Parsons, a former Treadstone technician who shares a history with Bourne, tells him that Daniels has fled to Tangier and aids his escape from an arriving CIA unit.
Parsons learns that Blackbriar "asset" Desh Bouksani has been tasked with killing Daniels. Vosen sees that Parsons accessed information about Daniels and sends Desh after Parsons and Bourne as well, a decision Landy fiercely disagrees with. Bourne follows Desh to Daniels, but fails to prevent Daniels' death by a planted bomb. However, Bourne manages to kill Desh before he can kill Parsons. After sending Parsons into hiding, Bourne examines the contents of Daniels' briefcase and finds the address of the deep-cover CIA bureau in New York City, where Vosen directs Blackbriar. Bourne travels to New York.
Landy receives a phone call from Bourne, which is intercepted by Vosen. Landy tells him that his real name is David Webb and his birthdate is "4-15-71". Bourne tells Landy to "get some rest" because she "look[s] tired", tipping off his presence in New York. Vosen intercepts a text to Landy from Bourne of a location to meet up, and leaves his office with a rendition team to capture him. Instead, Bourne breaks into Vosen's office and steals classified Blackbriar documents. Realizing that he'd been had, Vosen sends Paz after Bourne, resulting in Paz forcing Bourne's car to crash into a concrete barrier. Bourne holds Paz at gunpoint before sparing his life.
Bourne arrives at a hospital at 415 East 71st Street, memories of which were triggered by the false birthdate that Landy had given him earlier. Outside, Bourne meets Landy and gives her the Blackbriar files before going inside. Vosen figures out Landy's code and warns Dr. Albert Hirsch, who ran Treadstone's behavior modification program, that Bourne is coming. He follows Landy inside the building, but is too late to stop her from faxing the Blackbriar documents out. Meanwhile, Bourne encounters Hirsch on an upper floor and, with Hirsch's help, remembers that he volunteered for Treadstone. As Bourne flees to the roof, he is confronted by Paz, who asks, "Why didn't you take the shot?" Bourne repeats the dying words of The Professor: "Look at us. Look at what they make you give." Paz lowers his gun, but Vosen appears and shoots at Bourne as he leaps into the East River.
Some time later, Parsons watches a news broadcast about the exposure of Operation Blackbriar, the arrests of Hirsch and Vosen, a criminal investigation against Kramer, and the whereabouts of David Webb a.k.a. Jason Bourne. Upon hearing that his body has not been found after a three-day search of the river, Parsons smiles. Bourne is shown swimming away after his fall.
- Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a former operative for the black ops Operation Treadstone.
- Julia Stiles as Nicolette "Nicky" Parsons, Bourne's former Treadstone contact in Paris.
- David Strathairn as Noah Vosen, CIA Deputy Director in charge of the new Treadstone black ops upgrade called Operation Blackbriar.
- Scott Glenn as Ezra Kramer, Director of the CIA.
- Paddy Considine as Simon Ross, a reporter for The Guardian who has been investigating Treadstone.
- Edgar Ramirez as Paz, a Blackbriar assassin.
- Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch, the psychologist who oversaw Treadstone's behavioral modification program.
- Joan Allen as Pamela "Pam" Landy, CIA Deputy Director and Task Force Chief, sent in to aid Vosen in tracking down Bourne.
Tom Gallop reprises his role as Special Agent Tom Cronin, Pamela Landy's assistant. Corey Johnson plays Ray Wills, Vosen's deputy at Operation Blackbriar. Daniel Brühl plays Martin Kreutz, Marie's brother. Joey Ansah plays Desh Bouksani, a Blackbriar asset tasked to kill Bourne in Tangier. Colin Stinton plays Neal Daniels, CIA Station Chief in Madrid and a former member of Treadstone, who observed David Webb's initiation into the project and his transition to Jason Bourne. Lucy Liemann plays Lucy, a Blackbriar technician. Franka Potente has an uncredited appearance in a flashback as Marie Helena Kreutz, Bourne's murdered girlfriend.
The Bourne Ultimatum was filmed at Pinewood Studios near London and in multiple locations around the world, including Tangier, London, Paris, Madrid (as itself and double for Turin), Berlin (as double for Moscow), New York City including the Springs Mills Building (as the deep cover CIA offices), and other locations in the U.S.
Tony Gilroy, who had co-written the screenplays of the first two Bourne films, had intended The Bourne Supremacy to emphasise Bourne's repentance and atonement for his murders, but felt that the released film omitted this focus. Gilroy was persuaded to write an initial draft of The Bourne Ultimatum, but did not participate further, and as of 2009 had not watched the finished film. Gilroy's screenplay draft was subsequently criticized by Matt Damon.
Paul Greengrass spoke about the characterization of Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum shortly before its release:
Bourne is a real man in a real world in pursuit of a mythic quest. What's wonderful is that it's an oppositional story. Is he a killer, or was he made to be a killer? There is an underlying feeling that Bourne is one of us, and he's running away from "them." He's trying to get answers, and he doesn't trust them. They're all bad, and the system's corrupted. To convey that with a sense of excitement in a very contemporary land-scape is great fun. [...] If you opened your door in New York or Paris or London or whatever, you've got to believe that whatever the story it is that Bourne's engaged in [, something] could be happening there. [...] What attracts me to Bourne's world is that it is a real world and I think I'm most comfortable there.
References to previous films
Within the series
In the audio commentary for the DVD release of The Bourne Ultimatum, director Paul Greengrass confirmed the following scenes were deliberate allusions to scenes from the previous installments of the Bourne film franchise. They include:
- The opening chase sequence of The Bourne Ultimatum is a continuation of the Russian police attempts to capture Bourne in Moscow near the end of The Bourne Supremacy and takes place soon after Bourne's apology to Neski's daughter in the previous film.
- The scene where Bourne tells Marie's brother, Martin, of his sister's death is very similar to the ending of The Bourne Supremacy, when Bourne apologizes to the Neskis' daughter for killing her parents.
- The scene where Bourne crashes through a window to attack Desh is similar to the scene where Castel attacked Bourne in The Bourne Identity.
- After Bourne tells Nicky she will have to run, Nicky dyes and cuts her hair, similar to the scene in The Bourne Identity with Marie dyeing and cutting her hair. She even cuts and dyes her hair into an identical style.
- During the car chase with Paz, Bourne's car is destroyed in a similar fashion to Kirill's in the climax of The Bourne Supremacy. The sequence also includes similar staging, such as Bourne walking up to Paz with gun in hand but deciding not to shoot.
- In the rooftop climax, Bourne tells Paz, "Look at us. Look at what they make you give", reiterating the dying words of The Professor (Clive Owen) in The Bourne Identity.
- The scene at the end of The Bourne Supremacy in which Bourne tells Landy she "looks tired" is replayed with minor variations in The Bourne Ultimatum. It is followed by his brisk walk down the block. However, in Ultimatum, he's identified there.
- The ending of The Bourne Ultimatum, with Bourne floating motionless in the East River, links the opening scene of The Bourne Identity, which utilizes a similar image. The music in both scenes is also repeated.
- Operation Blackbriar is referred to at the very end of The Bourne Identity by Conklin's superior, Ward Abbott, but not mentioned whatsoever in the The Bourne Supremacy.
- One of the "terminated" victims' files taken from Vosen's safe by Bourne has a photo of Richard Chamberlain, who played the original Jason Bourne in the 1988 television movie The Bourne Identity. He is identified here as "Robert Golding" and is labeled "US Citizen Classified."
- Bourne says "This is real" on two occasions: in The Bourne Supremacy when Marie questions whether the man he spotted in Goa was actually an assassin; and in The Bourne Ultimatum when trying to convince the journalist Ross that he is in danger at Waterloo Station. The characters spoken to are both killed soon afterwards.
Outside the series
- The scene featuring Bourne desperately trying to catch a glimpse of Paz in the London Underground after Ross is gunned down is, according to Greengrass, an homage to the New York City Subway chase in one of his favorite films, The French Connection.
- The scene of the explosion in Tangier and the reaction of peoples and Niki at the cafe is, according to Greengrass, an homage to the La battaglia di Algeri di Gillo Pontecorvo another one of his favorite films. 
As with the previous films in the trilogy, the score was composed by John Powell. A new version of Moby's "Extreme Ways", entitled "Extreme Ways (Bourne's Ultimatum)", was recorded for the film's end credits.
- Benefit premiere — A premiere of The Bourne Ultimatum was held in downtown Oklahoma City on July 31, 2007, at Harkins Bricktown Theaters to benefit The Children's Center, located in suburban Bethany. The film was shown simultaneously on three screens. Matt Damon was at the event to greet guests.
- UK premiere — The film premiered at Leicester Square in London on August 15, 2007, with Matt Damon, Julia Stiles and Joan Allen attending. The film was released the next day.
- Australian premiere — The film premiered in Sydney on August 8, 2007, at the State Theatre, with Matt Damon attending.
- Boise Contemporary Theater Advance Screening — An advance screening of The Bourne Ultimatum was held at The Egyptian Theatre to benefit Boise Contemporary Theater on July 30, 2007. Producer Frank Marshall and actor Matt Damon were in attendance. The first two films, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, also had advance charity screenings in Boise.
The Bourne Ultimatum was released nationwide on August 30, 2007.
- Home Video Release — The film was released on both DVD and HD DVD Combo Format on December 11, 2007 in North America. The DVD was released in both Fullscreen and 2.35:1 Widescreen aspect ratios. The HD DVD and DVD special features include several deleted scenes, featurettes, audio commentary, and exclusively on the HD DVD version, HDi Interactive Format features such as Picture-in-Picture Video Commentary.
In addition to the stand alone DVD release, there is a limited edition 'The Jason Bourne Collection' gift set, featuring all three films on DVD and a bonus disc with myriad bonus features such as deleted scenes and featurettes. The gift set features Swiss Bank safe deposit box packaging including foreign currency and a Jason Bourne passport.
The Bourne Ultimatum earned $69,283,690 during its opening weekend at the box office, which at the time held the record for the highest grossing August opening for seven years, later overtaken by Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an overall approval rating of 94% based on 234 reviews and an average score of 8/10, higher than both predecessors. The site's consensus describes the film as "(...) an intelligent, finely tuned non-stop thrill ride. Another strong performance from Matt Damon and sharp camerawork from Paul Greengrass make this the finest installment of the Bourne trilogy," At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 85 based on 38 reviews, again higher than the first two films. At the end of its theatrical release, the film grossed at total of $227,471,070 in the U.S. and $215,353,068 in foreign markets for a worldwide total of $442,824,138, making it the highest grossing film in the series.
Like its predecessor, The Bourne Supremacy, the film was criticized for its use of "shaky camera" work, as Richard Corliss of Time magazine, in an otherwise positive review, wondered "why, in the chat scenes, the camera is afflicted with Parkinson's? The film frame trembles, obscures the speaker with the listener's shoulder, annoys viewers and distracts them from the content of the scene."
In the British press, the inclusion of a fictional journalist from the real British paper The Guardian and scenes set in the United Kingdom (particularly Waterloo railway station) were commented upon. In particular, that newspaper's reviewer joked that "dodging bullets from a CIA sniper... is the sort of thing which happens to us Guardian journalists all the time."
The film was also well received in the hacker subculture, as it showed actual real-world applications such as the Bourne-again shell and Nmap, unlike many other films featuring hacking scenes (such as Hackers).
Top ten lists
The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2007.
- 1st — Empire
- 1st — Best Action/Adventure, Rotten Tomatoes
- 2nd — Claudia Puig, USA Today
- 2nd — Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- 2nd — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
- 9th — Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
- 10th — Christy Lemire, Associated Press
- Christopher Rouse for Best Film Editing
- Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis for Best Sound Mixing
- Karen M. Baker and Per Hallberg for Best Sound Editing
- ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Film of the Year, 2008
In May 2007, prior to the release of The Bourne Ultimatum, Matt Damon claimed that he would not be interested in returning for a fourth Bourne film, stating (of his participation in the Bourne franchise): "We have ridden that horse as far as we can." Damon said in August 2007:
I think in terms of another one, the story of this guy's search for his identity is over, because he's got all the answers, so there's no way we can trot out the same character, and so much of what makes him interesting is that internal struggle that was happening for him, am I a good guy, am I a bad guy, what is the secret behind my identity, what am I blocking out, why am I remembering these disturbing images? So all of that internal propulsive mechanism that drives the character is not there, so if there was to be another one then it would have to be a complete reconfiguration, you know, where do you go from there? For me I kind of feel like the story that we set out to tell is has now been told. I love the character, and if Paul Greengrass calls me in ten years and says, 'Now we can do it, because it's been ten years and I have a way to bring him back,' then there's a world in which I can go, 'Yeah, absolutely.' We could get the band back together if there was a great idea behind it, but in terms of now and this story, that part—the story's been told...
On October 16, 2008, it was announced that George Nolfi would write the script, with Frank Marshall producing, and Jeffrey Weiner and Henry Morrison executive producing. Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, and Paul Greengrass were also attached to the film. Joshua Zetumer had been hired to write a parallel script—a draft which could be combined with another (Nolfi's, in this instance)—by August 2009 since Nolfi would be directing The Adjustment Bureau that September. That December, Greengrass announced that he had decided not to direct the fourth Bourne film, saying that "[his] decision to not return a third time as director is simply about feeling the call for a different challenge."
On February 1, 2010, Damon, speaking at the UK premiere of Invictus, revealed that a follow-up to The Bourne Ultimatum was "at least five years away". Greengrass, also at the premiere, re-stated that he would not be part of any further Bourne films "unless the right script came along". However, Damon revealed that in the meantime there may be a Bourne "prequel of some kind, with another actor and another director". Matt Damon reconfirmed this on a March 10, 2010 appearance of Today and that he would only be involved if Greengrass was directing.
In June 2010, it was announced that Tony Gilroy would be writing The Bourne Legacy and it would have a 2012 release date. That October, Gilroy was announced as the director of The Bourne Legacy; he confirmed that Damon would not return for this film and that there would be "a whole new hero":
This is not a reboot, it's a whole new chapter. The easiest way to think of it is an expansion or a reveal. Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he's very much alive. What happened in the first three films is the trigger for The Bourne Legacy, and everyone who got into them will be rewarded for paying attention. I'm building a legend and an environment and a wider conspiracy. We're going to show you the bigger picture, the bigger canvas... The world we're making enhances and advances and invites Jason Bourne's reappearance somewhere down the road."
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