The Bourne Supremacy (HD DVD)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Fans of “The Bourne Identity” will surely find more to look for in the sequel, “The Bourne Supremacy”. ‘Identity’ was the top rental of 2003 and interest in the franchise (yes, it is one now) seems not to have dwindled. This installment has out grossed it’s predecessor by $50 million dollars, something that Hollywood producers like to see. Does this mean that we’ll see “The Bourne Ultimatum” in theaters anytime soon? The safe bet would be “Yes”. Director Doug Liman has been replaced by Paul Greengrass, a veteran of television direction and who is also heading up next year’s “The Watchmen”. About the only thing that could be construed as negative is the shaky camerawork in the film which had more than a few viewers a bit queasy. “The Bourne Supremacy” doesn’t even feel like a sequel as the effects and cast isn’t all together “bigger and better”; it feels more like a continuation of the original – this is how sequels should be. The only major member of the cast, aside from Bourne and Maria, who returns is Nicky (Julia Stiles) so if any attachments were formed in the first movie – let them go for this one.

We find Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) now living in Goa, India with Maria (Franka Potente). Their lives seem to be as normal as can be expected, something which changes when Bourne spots someone who is clearly out of his element. Their covers blown, they try to escape and things go from bad to worse when Bourne is instigated in a Russian operation gone wrong. Once again on the run, Bourne has to rely on his skills to become a relentless assassin to ensure his survival. On the other end of the spectrum, we find CIA operative Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), who is trying to piece together what went wrong with the Russian operation (yes, it’s a small world). Bourne’s fingerprints have been planted and now she’s after him, much like Conklin (Chris Cooper) was in the first movie. There’s no shortage of action or intrigue here as the chase leads all across Europe like a typical cat and mouse game. However I hesitate to use the word “typical” here.

The truth of the matter is that if you liked “The Bourne Identity”, this is more of the same. Damon plays it decidedly low key and it works for a role like this. I can only imagine how someone trying to overact could kill this franchise. Brian Cox reprises his role as Ward Abbott, someone who butts heads with Pamela, hence adding even more tension to the film. Perhaps the most underused, though, is Stiles. Her character has room for development and perhaps in the third movie, she’ll get some more screen time. I’ve not read any of the books, so I can’t say how much of a departure from them that these movies are. However I will note that these movies have found a way to make for an interesting watch time and time again. Will “The Bourne Supremacy” end up as popular as “The Bourne Identity”? Probably so. The only question still begging is how long will we have to wait for “The Bourne Ultimatum”?

Video: How does it look?

This is actually the first Universal HD-DVD I’ve had the opportunity to review and I have to say that I was quite impressed (just as I am with Warner’s offerings on the new format). Granted, the standard DVD version of “The Bourne Supremacy” didn’t look bad at all but the HD version cranks it up a few notches. The rule of thumb is pretty much this: it’s like a fine film has been lifted and now you’re able to see all of the details that are present in the picture. It’s not so noticeable at first, but comparing the two versions side by side I can say that the difference is actually quite impressive. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer shines when it needs to and the gritty look and feel of the movie is still preserved in this new transfer. What was above average on standard DVD looks grand on HD-DVD.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on the standard DVD release have been replaced by a Dolby Digital Plus that sounds very robust. DTS was the sound mix of choice on standard DVD, but with the advent of HD-DVD we get better picture and sound (how about that)? The car chase scene is not only the movie’s money shot, but it’s also a chance for the Dolby Digital soundtrack to really show off. And show off it does, the sound resonates through every channel the movie has to offer. Dialogue is rich and full. Like the picture, there isn’t a night and day difference in sound – you could probably only tell a difference if you listened to one and then the other. That said, both the standard definition and HD version sport great-sounding tracks.

Supplements: What are the extras?

One of the major benefits of buying an HD-DVD disc is that you get the best of what the standard DVD has to offer. For example, if there’s a two-disc Special Edition DVD out there, odds are that the HD version will have all the supplements the two-disc had to offer and possibly more. Such is the case with “The Bourne Supremacy”. The main HD exclusive content is referred to as “Bourne Instant Access” which is a video running commentary, this can be played as a standard commentary as well (no video, just the audio commentary). It’s a cool feature and something that can be taken advantage of on HD (with all that extra disc space). The rest of the supplements are ported over from the DVD and there’s a lot more substance in the movie itself as these extras are a lot of filler. There are some deleted scenes included (wisely left out of the movie) backed up with eight featurettes. The first is “Crash Cam: Racing through the Streets of Moscow” which shows the stunt coordinators plan of the car chase through the streets of Moscow. Naturally, this had to be painstakingly planned and we get the skinny on how it took place. Next up is “Bourne to be Wild: Fight Training”. See how Matt Damon became the killer that he is in the movie as we get the lowdown on how the fight scenes were choreographed. “Blowing Things Up” tells of the pyrotechnics on the movie without all the hassle of digital effects. “Anatomy of a Scene” analyzes the complex bridge chase sequence. This is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll leave it at that. “Matching Identities” shows the casting process and how some little known actors scored some life changing roles. “Keeping it Real” shows the controversial (ok, so it’s not that controversial) way the movie was filmed, complete with jiggling camera moves and all. Want to know why it was filmed that way? Watch! Lastly, “On the Move with Jason Bourne” is a short tour of all the film’s exotic locales featured in the movie. All in all, some very informative supplements round out one of the year’s more entertaining and satisfying movies. Highly recommended.

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