I remember everything.

One of better movie series of the last decades possibly concludes with the release of The Bourne Ultimatum, the third movie that follows super-secret spy/assassin Jason Bourne as he attempts to track down his past against the wishes of the United States government that trained him. The original, The Bourne Identity, was one of the best pure action movie in recent years. The sequel, 2004's Bourne Supremacy, was unsure and not quite as polished, but still solid. Now comes the series third installment, which just about wraps up the summer movie season.

The storyline follows a natural progression from the previous two movies. Now that Bourne has figured out who he is now and atoned somewhat for his sins, he wants to know who he was. In order to do that, he must race the government to various people who know the secrets behind his black-ops work.

Few cinematic characters are as perfect for action movies as Jason Bourne, from both an action and narrative standpoint. As he learns his past, he takes the audience along for the ride. But that process is not tedious backstory or mediocre character development, as is often the case in such movies. Instead, his quest is the story, which makes for a rapid-fire flick that simultaneously entertains and enlightens. Matt Damon's determined yet understated demeanor is ideal for the role, and the no-frills approach never distracts from a driving story that is filled with plenty of high-tech action.

In a lesser movie, the technological implausibilities might weaken the movie or distract from the storyline. But Ultimatum dodged that bullet in two ways. First, the story moves quickly enough that the viewer barely has time to think about what might or might not work before the flick is on to the next frenetic sequence. Secondly, the movie does not use the technology as a dominant point of the movie, like Enemy of the State. Instead the devices are merely a means to an end.

Also overshadowing the technology is another strong supporting cast. The always-good Joan Allen returns this time, joined by Scott Glenn and David Straithairn, from Good Night and Good Luck. Strathairn and Allen are compelling in every scene, particularly when they are together. Their exchanges crackle without flying over the top, and their restrained focus is as intense as any shouting match. They add a layer of gravity to the goings-on that separates Ultimatum from other summer action like Live Free or Die Hard.

Other differences between this and Die Hard lie in the technical aspects of the film. Director Paul Greengrass also helmed Supremacy, and he and his crew remedied one of the main problems of the second movie, which was the overly shaky camera work. Most of the shots are still handheld, but they are more static than before and pulled back a little in the fights. The music is surprisingly good too. As Bourne trots through Europe and Africa, the music travels along, mixing in pulsing strings, African drums, and even going completely silent when appropriate.

Ultimatum often echoes Identity, which is a good thing. Both possess a similar driving intensity interspersed with quiet moments that allow humanity to leak through. This one lacks the originality of Identity, but replaces it with the satisfying resolution that Bourne is seeking. On the whole, as the summer movie season wraps up, this is the best action film of the last few months. It's better than Die Hard, although it doesn't provide as much fun. It's a better film; Die Hard is a better movie, if that makes sense.

Bottom Line: Better than the second; not quite as good as the original, but still a bang-up way to end the summer movie season. A slightly generous 8 of 10.

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