That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, these ones revolve mostly around films.)

The Bourne Ultimatum & The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007 9:12 pm—Film

The Bourne Ultimatum (USA 2007, Action/Adventure/Mystery), Writers: Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi; Director: Paul Greengrass

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (USA 2005, Comedy/Romance), Writers: Judd Apatow and Steve Carell; Director: Judd Apatow

[Spoiler Alert: I don’t give away the ending, but you may want to skip this post until you’ve seen The Bourne Ultimatum. Although I will say that I love the way the ending comes full circle and ties the series up nicely.]

Like the first two instalments in the Bourne trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum is a great spy film. It has all the necessary elements—suspense, mystery, chase scenes, fight scenes—but the writers trimmed the fat off your standard spy movie fare, focusing on the essentials.

One of those essentials, not that you’d know it from your typical Hollywood action flick, is a believable, well-developed protagonist. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a complicated, conflicted character. He has incredible athleticism and fighting skills, but he also bleeds when he’s hit (something I really liked about Daniel Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale). After an impressive battle against one of the other Treadstone assassins, we see Bourne sitting on the bed nursing his swollen knuckles.

Bourne doesn’t rely only on brawn to escape tricky situations. He’s smart, more likely to use maps and a stolen police headset to flee a building than to bomb or shoot his way out.

He’s also incredibly cerebral and internal. It’s nice to see filmmakers trust viewers to accept an action hero who doesn’t spew one-liners as comic relief. Bourne asks only the basics, says only what needs to be said. There is nothing superfluous in his world.

Damon is perfectly cast in the role; his intelligence and nuance play a huge part in distinguishing the Bourne trilogy from other movies in its genre. (Damon is a really good actor, but I think he’s often overlooked because of his subtlety. Case in point: The Departed, for which every other major player got an Academy Award or Golden Globe nomination—including Marky Mark.)

Speaking of casting, I wasn’t sure how well the franchise would work without Marie (Run Lola Run’s Franka Potente), Bourne’s love interest in the first film. She provided a nice counterpoint to his logical, intently pragmatic way of thinking: scattered, disorganized, but sweet and full of joy and wonder. With Marie, Bourne had a taste of what was truly worth fighting for. Luckily there’s a lot to explore even without her.

I was intrigued to see the filmmakers touch on Bourne’s motives for joining Treadstone. When he hands over his dog tags, the movie hints at some shame he wanted to escape—perhaps a failure or betrayal in the military—and an intense need to prove himself. It’s an interesting suggestion, given that Bourne now seems ruled by loyalty and honour.

A quick side note: I recently saw The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Like the main character’s virginity, it drags on a little long, and you can’t take it too seriously—there’s plenty of offence to go around. But at several points it had me laughing so hard I was nearly in tears. Watch for the scene when Andy (Steve Carell) tries to be one of the boys at poker night. (A bag of sand?) The movie also features one of the best lines in film history: “I’m a virgin. I always have been.”

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