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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Movie memories, by Siraj Syed--The Bourne Supremacy (2004): Supreme racy

Movie memories, by Siraj Syed--The Bourne Supremacy (2004): Supreme racy

As I write this flashback review, five Jason Bourne films have been released, of which The Bourne Supremacy was the second. The lead character and plot premises are all based on the milieu created by Robert Ludlum’s action-thriller novels about CIA agent Jason Bourne and the Agency’s use of his skills in executing murderous missions, after subjecting him to drug-induced psychogenic amnesia.

This one begins two years after the events in the first Bourne outing, and takes the viewer to New York, Berlin, Moscow, Goa, Naples and Amsterdam. Bourne and Marie are in Goa, while another conspiracy is executed in Berlin. Two CIA agents are paying US$3 million for the "Neski files", documents detailing the theft of $20 mn seven years ago, in allocation money (CIA’s secret fund, used to buy people and information). Kirill, an agent for Russia's Federal Security Service, who working for Russian oil oligarch Yuri Gretkov, plants Bourne's fingerprint at the scene, on an explosive device, detonates the explosives, kills everyone involved and steals the files and money. On Bourne’s trail in Goa, Kirill chases and shoots at the couple, killing Marie instead of Bourne.

Surviving the attack, Bourne travels to Naples, Italy with money and a caché of forged passports. At the CIA, Pamela Landy asks Deputy Director Ward Abbott about Operation Treadstone, the defunct CIA program to which Bourne belonged. She tells Abbott that the CIA agent who stole the $20 mn from the CIA was named in the Neski files. Some years previously, Russian politician Vladimir Neski was about to identify the thief, when he was supposedly murdered by his wife in a Berlin hotel, who was also found dead. Landy believes that Bourne and Treadstone's late supervisor, Alexander Conklin, were somehow involved, and that Bourne killed her two agents. Both Abbott and Landy go to Berlin to capture Bourne.

It’s a simple plot, and, if you watch the film on a big screen, the acoustics would help you hear the dialogue more clearly. Viewing it on DVD might leave you wondering about the plot twists that you could not hear clearly. Also, the back story, from Part I would help. John Powell’s musical score, however, is so strong that it will keep you rivetted all through. Camerawork is a little sloppy, by today’s standards, as are the editing cuts.

Tony Gilroy’s screenplay takes almost nothing from the Ludlum novel. In any case, there is no ‘supremacy’ involved here, only ‘supreme chasey’ and ‘supreme racy’ I guess 54minutes of the film’s 108 minute length are spent on chases---on foot, in trains and, of course, 100 cars, including a spell-binding one in a hijacked taxi. British director Paul Greengrass helmed the American-German production. Prominent members of the cast are listed below

Matt Damon as David Webb (real name)/ Jason Bourne

Franka Potente as Marie

Brian Cox as Ward Abbott

Julia Stiles as Nicolette ‘Nicky’ Parsons (psycho-analyst)

Karl Urban as Kirill

Gabriel Mann as Danny Zorn, Abbott's assistant

Joan Allen as Pamela Landy

Marton Csokas as Jarda

Karel Roden as Yuri Gretkov

Oksana Akinshina as Irena Neski (daughter of the murdered couple)

Chases, however exciting, become a déja vu, unless used sparingly. There’s too much of them in The Bourne Supremacy. Invincibility of the protagonist, who is up against an array of sharpshooters and snipers, not to mention dozens of foot soldiers, needs suspension of disbelief, but for how long and how often? The only discomfort he shows is a limp, towards the end of the film.

At today’s sensibilities, it would rate as below.

(This is the first in a series of flashback reviews from my collection of DVDs and CDs. More film reviews and Hindi film music reviews of days gone by will follow).

Rating: ***


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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