On the surface, Rush Hour 3 and The Bourne Ultimatum sound like they could both appeal to the same kind of movie-goer. You know the type. An under-30 male (like me) who likes watching big action scenes with even bigger explosions. Sure, the Rush Hour series is decidedly more comedic, whereas the Bourne series is more cerebral, but if you like gunfights and thrilling sequences — accompanied by some pretty awesome stars — there should be a fair bit of appeal in both camps. However, these two movies couldn’t be more different.
As you recall, I lambasted Rush Hour 3 for feeling far too contrived and making very little sense as to why things happened the way they did. The script just tossed in elements for no good reason, other than to provide an excuse to use a certain joke. Thankfully, The Bourne Ultimatum does not do that.
In the first two Bourne movies — The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy — we followed the journey of Jason Bourne as he tried to discover his past. Suffering from retrograde amnesia, he has no idea who he is, other than the fact that he works for the government as some sort of secret agent. He has remarkable combat skills and has an uncanny ability for knowing exactly what is going on at any given moment. His observation and planning skills are second-to-none. In The Bourne Ultimatum, he finally uncovers his past, and more importantly, his true identity and how he came to become who he is today.
The action starts right away and it really doesn’t let up until the very end of the movie. This flick truly is an absolute thrill right from the get-go, sending that beautiful adrenaline coursing through your veins for a solid two hours of fist fights, high speed chases, and clever booby traps. Yes, there are action sequences that feel very drawn out — the battle between Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon) and Desh Bouksani (a Blackbriar agent played by Joey Ansah) in Tangier immediately comes to mind — but this is absolutely forgivable, given just how great it was. From ripping through narrow streets on a scooter to strategic hand-to-hand combat, my heart was throbbing the entire time and I loved it.
Just like the first two movies, there’s a lot of shaky camera work in The Bourne Ultimatum, so if you’re prone to motion sickness or seizures, this film might not be the best idea for you. There’s a little bit of a Blair Witch Project effect going on, but it just adds to the tension of the movie. Couple that tension with harsh action scenes and cerebral battles and you’ve seriously got yourself a winner. One of the best examples of this brilliant combination is the sequence where Jason Bourne is attempting to guide journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) through Waterloo Station and protect him from being killed. The timing, the observation, the quick-thinking… it’s all terribly entertaining.
If The Bourne Ultimatum can be equated to a chess game, then Rush Hour 3 is tiddlywinks. Matt Damon does a fantastic job in reprising the role of Jason Bourne, because you actually believe that he is intelligent, but at the same time, you realize that he can snap your neck in half a second too. Harrison Ford served us well as Jack Ryan and if the Bourne trilogy is any indication, Matt Damon will continue to serve us well as a cerebral action star. Seriously, if you enjoyed the first two movies, you absolutely have to watch The Bourne Ultimatum. It’s that good.
4.5 stars out of 5