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by Willie Waffle

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The Bourne Supremacy

You know a movie is riveting when the audience turns on the one guy who dares to talk during the film. It happened when I went to see The Bourne Supremacy, and I thought we were going to have a riot on our hands. Of course, it proves there is hope for humanity and civility. He never uttered another word during the movie, and we were happy.

Matt Damon is back as Jason Bourne - a former, covert CIA killing machine brainwashed and conned into being used for evil. Living on the run for two years, Jason seems to have found an idyllic life on the beach in India, but he is haunted by dreams that he suspects are repressed memories of past jobs and the bad things he has done.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, CIA agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), is trying to discover how $20 Million in CIA funds disappeared, and loses two agents in a deal gone bad, just as she thought she was getting close to the answer. Bourne's fingerprint has shown up at the crime scene, just as he recognizes a semi-familiar face has shown up in India.

How is all of this tied together? Can Bourne solve the mystery before the CIA arrests him, or does worse to him?

With an intense tone, strong mystery and dedication to story over frivolous action, The Bourne Supremacy is one of the best movies of the year! Writer Tony Gilroy (based on a novel by Robert Ludlum) has provided a plot with plenty of twists and turns, so you have to pay attention, and that's a good thing. Without becoming overly cryptic or incomprehensible, Gilroy engages us as sleuths trying to judge what's an important piece of info, and what's a red herring. Unlike the first movie, The Bourne Identity, we get to solve the mystery along with Bourne, and that keeps us engaged until the end.

We have to give credit to director Paul Greengrass. In one of the bravest moves of the summer, he has decided to focus on the story instead of the film series' signature, fast-paced precision fighting. Don't worry, you get plenty of hand-to-hand combat scenes (this is a Hollywood action film, no one has lost their mind), but it isn't overdone or inserted gratuitously. Also, Greengrass shows impeccable directing skills with great pacing, use of the music to add to the film's intensity instead of trying to pad a soundtrack CD with songs, and the shaky camera style reminiscent of NYPD Blue, which gives The Bourne Supremacy a gritty, realistic feel (helped by the cinematography as well).

Finally, Damon, once again, shows why he is a true movie star who can carry any type of film. While not the most physically imposing guy on the planet, he is an essential element contributing to the movie's intensity. You honestly believe, like the CIA, this guy could lose it at any point as he leaves a path of destruction in his wake. However, Damon can balance it with sensitivity and emotion in the movie's most touching moments at the beginning and the end. He doesn't go all blubbery on us, but he does open the door to Bourne's human side. Burly guys like Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis rarely do that in their movies. Teamed with Brian Cox and Allen as feuding bureaucrats, this is a fantastic acting ensemble.

The Bourne Supremacy is a wee tad too long, and attempts to set up a third film in the series are overly obvious, however, it's still THE movie to see this weekend. It's better than the first movie, and you won't feel lost if you never saw The Bourne Identity.

3 ¾ Waffles (out of 4)

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