THE BOURNE SUPREMACY
There is certainly no want of action in "The Bourne Supremacy." What's more, the action in this summer's spy thriller is of the best type -- action that can stand on its own without ridiculous stunts or silly gadgets. Thanks to constant surprises and chases and strategic timing, it is thrilling to the utmost.
Just one thing. Sit in the back row.
If you don't, you may actually experience an action-overdose. What could make the action too much? Not violence, nor gruesome sights, but a handheld camera.
Yes, moviegoers' main qualm with the second installment in the Bourne trilogy was its new cinematography. Many complain that the wobbly, realistic point-of-view was used so often and for such lengths of time that it induced dizziness and ruined the action scenes.
Under a new director -- Paul Greengrass rather than Doug Liman -- the second Bourne movie is very different, make no mistake. The handheld camera was definitely overused, making some of the action scenes both overly long and overly shaky. The maxim "too much of a good thing is bad" comes to mind.
However, when viewed at a sufficient distance from the screen, Greengrass's efforts are, overall, successful. Whether it's too overwhelming for the individual viewer or not, the handheld camera puts him at the scene of the action, alternately mesmerizing and jolting him.
The overuse of the shaky, realistic, and unusual camera view is a reasonable price to pay for action so thrilling -- the effect ultimately brought an urgency, believability, and meaning to Bourne's endeavors. Instead of ridiculous stunts where agents suddenly jump through second-story picture windows and down 20 flights of stairs, Bourne skillfully evades death on city subways, by drowning and in a car chase.
The bottom line? Sit towards the back. The closer you sit to the front, the more the movie is like a motion simulator ride. Whether or not you get nauseous depends on where you sit.
Beyond the action, "The Bourne Supremacy" has much more emotional depth and real-life appeal than "The Bourne Identity" does, and as action movies go, it's almost poignant. The second film finds Bourne a more believable and sympathetic character than the first, mainly because of the newfound significance of his relationship with his girlfriend, Marie.
In "The Bourne Identity," the circumstantial-gone-romantic relationship between Bourne and Marie seemed contrived, as if it were inserted only in an attempt to give the movie some romantic appeal.
In "The Bourne Supremacy," Bourne's actual relationship with Marie remains unexplored, but gives meaning to and propels the rest of the movie. Just as important, it sheds light on Bourne as a person. The second installment isn't merely about Bourne saying "I don't want to be a killer any more." It's about him coming to terms with what he's done, who he was, and who he is (amongst all the high-speed chases, of course). This is best exemplified in Bourne's evident pain in recalling one of his past murders. In one of the final scenes, Bourne apologizes to the girl whose parents he killed, making for a surprisingly raw and compelling end to the film.
Matt Damon ("Good Will Hunting," "Stuck On You), playing Bourne, does an impressive job at communicating his character's emotions subtly, yet effectively. Julia Stiles ("10 Things I Hate About You"), returning with her brief, minor role as Nicolette, lives up to the high standard of performing she has demonstrated in the past. Brian Cox ("Troy," "The Ring") and Joan Allen ("Pleasantville," "The Notebook") gave excellent performances as two very different CIA agents who actually have character as people, not just agents.
"The Bourne Supremacy"'s winning combination of gripping action and emotional depth, set off by an excellent cast, puts it a cut above the typical action movie. Some action scenes are tainted with the overuse of the wobbly, handheld camera point-of-view, but once past this imperfection, you will find some of the most exciting action you'll ever see in a movie.
Distance yourself from the screen and you may just find yourself among those who emerged from the theater asking, "What happened to the crummy sequel rule?"
Emily Sullivan will be a senior at City Honors.