The Bourne Ultimatum (film)
|The Bourne Ultimatum|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Greengrass|
|Story by||Tony Gilroy|
|Based on||The Bourne Ultimatum
by Robert Ludlum
|Music by||John Powell|
|Edited by||Christopher Rouse|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$442.8 million|
The Bourne Ultimatum is a 2007 action thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass loosely based on the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum. The screenplay was written by Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi and based on a screen story of the novel by Gilroy. The Bourne Ultimatum is the third in the Jason Bourne film series, being preceded by The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Bourne Supremacy (2004). The fourth film, The Bourne Legacy, was released in August 2012, without the involvement of Damon, and the fifth film (a direct sequel to Ultimatum), Jason Bourne, was released in July 2016.
Matt Damon reprises his role as Ludlum’s signature character, former CIA assassin and psychogenic amnesiac Jason Bourne. In the film, Bourne 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, and grossed a total of $442 million worldwide becoming, at the time, Damon’s highest-grossing film with him as the lead. The film received acclaim from critics, who considered it to be the best film in the series, and praised the performances, action sequences, sound design, story, stunts, camerawork and John Powell‘s musical score. It was chosen by National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2007 and went on to win all three of its nominations at the 80th Academy Awards: Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.
Following his pursuit by Kirill (in The Bourne Supremacy), Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) evades Moscow police while wounded and deals with more flashbacks of when he first joined Operation Treadstone. Six weeks later, CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) divulges the audiotaped confession of Ward Abbott, the late former head of Treadstone, to Director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn). Meanwhile, in Turin, journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) of The Guardian meets an 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 Martin Kreutz (Daniel Brühl), the brother of his girlfriend Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente), of her assassination in India, also in the previous film.
Bourne reads Ross’s articles and arranges a meeting with him at London Waterloo station. Bourne realizes that the CIA is following Ross and helps him evade capture for a while, but when he panics and ignores Bourne’s instructions, Ross is shot and killed by Blackbriar assassin Paz (Édgar Ramírez), in the middle of a busy station, on orders of Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Strathairn). Vosen’s team, reluctantly assisted by Landy, analyzes Ross’s notes and identifies his source as Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton), a CIA Station chief involved with Treadstone and Blackbriar. Bourne makes his way to Daniels’ office in Madrid but finds it empty. He incapacitates gunmen sent by Vosen and Landy. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), a former Treadstone operative who shares a history with Bourne, tells him that Daniels has fled to Tangier and aids his escape from an arriving CIA unit.
Nicky learns that Blackbriar “asset” Desh Bouksani (Joey Ansah) has been tasked with killing Daniels. Vosen sees that Nicky accessed information about Daniels and sends Bouksani after Nicky and Bourne as well, a decision with which Landy fiercely disagrees. Bourne follows Bouksani to Daniels but fails to prevent Daniels’s death by a planted bomb. However, Bourne manages to kill Bouksani before he can kill Nicky. After sending Nicky 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. When Landy tells him that his real name is David Webb and gives him the birth date “4-15-71”, Bourne tells Landy to “get some rest” because she looks tired, tipping off that he is in New York and watching her from an overlooking building (a scene replicated from the end of the previous film). Vosen intercepts a text to Landy from Bourne of a location to meet up, and leaves his office with a tactical team. Bourne, however, waits for them all to leave, enters Vosen’s office, and takes classified Blackbriar documents. When he realizes that he has been tricked, Vosen sends Paz after Bourne, but the resulting car chase ends with Bourne forcing Paz’s car to crash into a concrete barrier. Bourne holds the injured Paz at gunpoint, but spares his life.
Bourne arrives at a hospital at 415 East 71st Street, having figured out Landy’s coded message. Outside, Bourne meets Landy and gives her the Blackbriar files before going inside. Vosen also figures out Landy’s code and warns Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney), 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, Hirsch is confronted by Bourne on an upper floor, who now 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 asks Paz if he knows why he’s supposed to kill him, and repeats the dying words of The Professor in The Bourne Identity: “Look at us. Look at what they make you give.” Paz lowers his gun, but Vosen appears and shoots at Bourne as he jumps into the East River.
Some time later, Nicky 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, Nicky smiles. Bourne is shown swimming away in the East River.
- Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a former operative for the black ops Operation Treadstone.
- Julia Stiles as 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.
- Édgar Ramírez as Paz, a Blackbriar assassin.
- Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch, the psychologist who oversaw Treadstone’s behavioral modification program.
- Joan Allen as Pamela Landy, CIA Deputy Director and Task Force Chief, sent in to aid Vosen in tracking down Bourne.
- Daniel Brühl as Martin Kreutz, Marie’s brother
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. 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 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.
Tom Stoppard wrote a draft of the screenplay, later saying “I don’t think there’s a single word of mine in the film.”
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 in 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 to Marie when she 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 two characters spoken to are both killed by a shot from a sniper 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 the people and Nicky at the cafe is, according to Greengrass, an homage to The Battle of Algiers by 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 film and special features on the HD DVD version are presented in 2:35:1 Widescreen high definition 1080i and offer Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio options.
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. At the end of its theatrical release, the film grossed a 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.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an overall approval rating of 92% based on 264 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, indicating “universal acclaim”, making it the highest rated film in the franchise.
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
Awards and nominations
|Academy Awards||Best Film Editing||Christopher Rouse||Won|
|Best Sound Editing||Karen M. Baker and Per Hallberg||Won|
|Best Sound Mixing||Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis||Won|
|BAFTA Awards||Outstanding British Film||Nominated|
|Best Direction||Paul Greengrass||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Oliver Wood||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Christopher Rouse||Won|
|Best Sound||Scott Millan, David Parker, Kirk Francis, Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg||Won|
|Best Special Visual Effects||Peter Chiang, Charlie Noble, Mattias Lindahl, and Joss Williams||Nominated|
- ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Film of the Year, 2008
- Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture, 2007
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…
However, on February 22, 2008, Variety reported that a fourth film was indeed in the works, with both Damon and Greengrass on board.
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 U.K. 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.”
The Bourne Legacy was released in the U.S. on August 10, 2012.
Universal Pictures stated at a media conference in Los Angeles, California, that they are likely to release more Bourne films, despite The Bourne Legacy being given mixed reviews by critics. On September 15, 2014, it was announced that Damon and Greengrass will indeed return for the next Bourne film, taking the release date, with Renner returning as Cross in a separate film at a later date. On June 18, 2014, the studio pushed back the film from August 14, 2015, to July 15, 2016. On January 6, 2015, the studio pushed back the release date to July 29, 2016.
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