The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Rated PG-13.. Our ratings: V- 5; L- 3; S/N – 1. Running time: 1 hour 55 min.

Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers;
protect me from those who are violent,
who plan evil things in their minds
and stir up wars continually.
They make their tongue sharp as a snake’s,
and under their lips is the venom of vipers. Psalm 140:1-3

Jason Bourne and CIA agent Nicky Parsons
(c) 2007 Universal Pictures

This third installment in the film series based on Robert Ludlum’s trilogy is like one of those expensive cars guaranteed to rev up to 60 mph in ten seconds or left: the opening credits barely are starting, and the heart-pumping action begins immediately. Director Paul Greengrass takes us on a ride that leaves in the dust such action films as The Mission Impossible series. Go sit in your rocking chair Tom Cruise, Mat Damon as Jason Bourne is here, not out to save the world, just attempting to find himself and the people who have turned his life into a fast-track road to hell.

The film seems like a collection of high speed chases—sometimes physical as in the Tangiers sequence, at other times more mental as Bourne has to out-think the rogue CIA agents led by Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) as the latter through surveillance cameras directs his assassins who are searching for their prey amidst large crowds at malls and terminals. The opening sequence in London finds Bourne himself directing via various cell phones British journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) who may have some clues as to Bourne’s past. They are to meet, but Bourne knows that somehow they are being watched and pursued by his former superiors. This is so suspenseful, with so many twists and turns, that I wondered how anything to follow could top it—but it does, especially the incredibly physical chase of Bourne by his pursuer Paz (Edgar Ramirez) over the rooftops and in and out of the tiny apartments in Tangiers.

If you have seen the previous two films, you know that Bourne was a subject in a CIA secret training program known as Treadstone, which has been re-invented as something called “Blackbriar.” Noah Vosen is determined that Blackbriar shall remain a deep secret, hence his felt need to eliminate Bourne. It is not giving up too much to reveal that Bourne finally meets up with the scientist who created the experiment that gave him his strength but robbed him of his memory, Dr. Hirsch (Albert Finney). Along the way he is aided by CIA agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) who requires little convincing to go over to his side. Back at the CIA’s New York office Pam Landy (Joan Allen) begins to have doubts about her superior Noah, calling into question his obsessive desire to see Bourne killed. Well directed and acted, this is a thriller that completely transports us into its dangerous world.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) Why do you think Jason Bourne is so obsessed with getting back his memory? How is our memory the essence of who we are?

2) How is memory important, even at the heart of the Judaeo-Christian faith? Discuss the two liturgies at the heart of each of the two faiths—Passover and the Eucharist. In what way are we a “nobody” without our memory, as individuals? As a people?

3) Compare how the CIA is depicted by Hollywood today with how it was in the days of the Cold War: how does each reflect the fears and views of the times?