After the stunning success of "The Bourne Identity" any sequel had a lot to live up to in order to not feel either like a carbon copy or a poor imitation. Thankfully in 2004 "The Bourne Supremacy" was released and not only is it equal to it's formidable predecessor but with a new director and a slightly darker tone it is in many ways more impressive. "The Bourne Supremacy" manages to continue the storyline from the original, expanding on the whole political conspiracy surrounding the government 'Kill Squad' and also carries on trying to fill in the pieces of Bourne's own past. It really is a great sequel and being the middle movie in the series doesn't fall prey to all the issues which usually cause middle movies to fail.
2 Years after on and Jason Bourne (Matt Damon - Stuck on You) is still trying to fill in the gaps in his missing memory whilst living a seemingly happily life with Marie (Franka Potente) in Goa, India. But when he is framed for a recent assassination he not only finds CIA director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen - The Notebook) taking a new interest in him but also a Russian assassin who causes him to go on the run again whilst trying to discover what his connection is to all these new goings on.
Like with the original "The Bourne Supremacy" is packed full of dazzling action sequences and right from the start we barely get any time to settle before we get hit with a fast pace action scene. It's an impressive start quickly introducing us to the latest government conspiracy as well as re-introducing us to Jason Bourne. But thankfully this is not a case of trying to ramp up the action in place of a good storyline as it is as intelligent as ever. But there is certainly a bigger feel to the movie this time round, fight scenes are more impressive, chase scenes are longer and shockingly deaths are unexpected as well as quite brutal.
There are times that it feels like the writers have tried to recreate all those best bits of action from the first movie, embellishing them too be even more impressive. But that is not a criticism as they don't cheapen the movie at all, in fact make it slightly more real in the sense that something Bourne did in the first movie he did again because it's part of his character, it makes sense.
But as already mentioned this is not just an action movie and the storyline is as intriguing and clever as before. With the movie being a continuation of the original storyline elements are expanded upon and more of Bourne's less than favourable past comes to light. Which leads me nicely onto a big difference between "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Identity" the storyline this time round is much darker we learn things about Bourne that reveals him as quite a cynical if not brutal killing machine. But again we still sympathise with him and it is masterful how this is achieved, how we root for someone who was once a deadly assassin but now has a much more human side, which is again shown as the storyline develops.
As for the government conspiratorial side of the movie well again it is a well thought out tightly knit storyline which is believable. But more importantly it develops on what went before and brings in new elements which thickens the plot even more but also explains things. It is again a masterful piece of script writing which when paired up with the action makes for a remarkable 104 minutes of action thriller which never seems to lose momentum even after the expected big climax.
It's also worth pointing out that although the middle movie of the series it doesn't feel just like a link piece for the next part. It has enough self contained storyline to make it a movie on it's own but also leaves enough open for the next. But being the middle movie it does mean to fully appreciate all the twists, the flash backs and character development you really should watch "The Bourne Identity" to get the most from it.
Yet again the intelligent storyline is helped by having strong characters and as before Jason Bourne is as intriguing as ever, even more so with the darker aspects of his past being slowly revealed. Matt Damon again excels in the role delivering mean and moody better than anyone. Also returning is Brian Cox as the dodgy Government official Abbot Ward and this time round the character takes on a more pivotal role, in doing so allowing Cox to show what a great actor he is able to deliver both the shadiness of the character with a touch of sentiment to make him human.
But in many ways the real scene stealer this time round is Joan Allen as CIA director Pamela Landy, who having had one of her missions ruined by an assassin finds herself thrown into the mystery of "Treadstone" and Jason Bourne. In many ways Pamela Landy is the strong character needed to take over from Chris Cooper in the original, she is determined, slightly ruthless but also human making her believable and Joan Allen does a marvellous job of creating such a brilliantly interesting as well as believable character.
Again the casting has issues and that is sadly the return of the lovely Julia Stiles as Nicolette. The trouble is Nicolette is a pivotal character in the storyline and so to keep realistic continuity Stiles had to return but again she feels a little week and unbelievable. Credit where it's due and the writers have tried to explain her character a little more which sort of explains why she is not such a strong character but still it just doesn't quite work.
What is quite surprising when it comes to "The Bourne Supremacy" is that the direction was by Paul Greengrass this time round instead of Doug Liman and unless you knew you wouldn't really spot any difference. Yes it is darker this time round, but that is more to do with the screen play rather than the direction and other than that the close camera work, snappy editing and general impressiveness is still there. But like many I have a little criticism and that is the intentionally shaky hand held camera shots, they do make it realistic but can also make scenes such as the fights confusing because it's just a little to shaky.
What this all boils down to is as a sequel "The Bourne Supremacy" is a brilliant movie. It manages to provide continuity in the developing storyline, managing to make it as intelligent as ever. But it also ramps up the action making it an absolute visual treat, with the action and storyline working in perfect harmony. Matt Damon is as good as before and with the introduction of Joan Allen as Pamela Landy adds a further element to the movie.