Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn
(PG-13, 111 min.)
"What fools these mortals be." Seneca
You couldn’t ask for a more thrill-packed adventure, one that propels you from the teeming streets of London to the tiled passages of Morocco. Nor a more compelling figure than Jason Bourne, who relies on his savage cunning against a ruthlessly efficient branch of the C.I.A.
Perhaps what gives this third installment in the series an extra spurt of adrenaline – many critics think this is the best of the three – is Jason’s turn from prey to predator. He’s not just on the run from all those maniacal killers sent to off him, as he was in The Bourne Identity; nor is he the content to live out a peaceful incognito existence until they kill his girl, as in The Bourne Supremacy. No, now he is really mad, and all the righteous rage is directed at payback, at those who made him into a rogue killer in the first place.
On the one hand he is an existential hero single-handedly taking on a corrupt bureaucracy, courageous and steadfast. But there is also a bit of the “It’s all about me” narcissism. In Bourne’s determination to find who made him into a killer, he is a little cavalier with the lives of those who help him. Or maybe he just doesn’t understand how large and virulent the malignancy within the C.I.A. is.
Bourne dazzles us with technical brilliance in his attempted meeting with British journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine), who has been writing about him. Obviously somebody on the inside has been leaking and Bourne wants to tap this source, too. How he outmaneuvers the London C.I.A network and their NYC bosses ensconced in a high tech web of surveillance that would put George Orwell’s Big Brother to shame is a work of art. Knowing that they’d have tapped his cell phone, Bourne buys a new one and drops it into Ross’s pocket so quickly even the Argus-eyed techs miss it.
Once in contact, Bourne directs Ross past all the operatives peppered throughout Waterloo Station, and he is almost successful in making it through the minefield until Ross panics. It seems London director Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) is not about to let the two meet, ordering his men to take both Bourne and Ross out. Unfortunately, only Bourne escapes their lethal scopes.
Now here’s where the credibility begins to run a bit thin. Sometimes, I must admit, I have longed to have a C.I.A. as efficiently evil as it is portrayed here, but come on. To take out a British reporter, one working for The Guardian at that, in the middle of London? Is this the same bureaucracy that consulted with its legal department before vaporizing Bin Laden?
But that’s just the beginning. As Bourne gets closer to the goods, tracking Ross’s source first to Madrid and then Morocco, Vosen has only to make a discreet phone call and another anonymous assassin, handy sniper rifle carrying tote bag conveniently at hand, is off to the kill. The fact that the large network within the surveillance unit is not only privy to but also complicit in this doesn’t make too much sense either. Aren’t these dirty little cloak and dagger operations supposed to be highly secret just out of a matter of practicality? Do you really want wet behind the ears junior staffers in on all this bloody clutter?
It turns out that this wasn’t at all the way writer Robert Ludlum penned the Bourne chronicles, starting back in the late eighties. In his novels, Bourne is an innocent, not really an assassin, but just playing one to get close to terrorist Carlos the Jackal. The C.I.A. does not come across as pristine, but the clear adversary is not the agency itself. With a world of so many real villains ready, willing and able to cut American throats, why must Hollywood use all its technical wizardly and artistry to point the finger ever inward? I hope I am not the only one asking this question, spectacular car chases and heart pounding thrills aside.
Only in the early scenes of The Bourne Ultimatum is there enough time for anyone even to consider eating. Most of the time everyone is too busy aiming or dodging bullets and exploding cars, not to mention chards of glass and out of control motorcycles.
The nefarious Noah Vosen does sit down to a heart healthy omelette, but even svelte C.I.A. colleague Pam Landy scorns it. “Enjoy your egg whites,” is her parting shot.
Since much of the better sequences of the film take place in Morocco, its tiled elegance adding a sad beauty to its dark passageways, a dish hailing from that country definitely sounds more inviting. I have chosen a delicious Moroccan Herbed Fish, with the sauce spooned over fried fish.
Those of you more health conscious can merely bake yours with the herb mixture sprinkled on top.
If you care to make an entire African dinner, why not start with Ethiopian Cheese Dip. You might also like to include this SouthAfrican Funeral Rice. Certainly there are enough dead bodies in the Bourne adventure to merit this side dish. And don’t pass up this delicious Zimbabwe Bean Salad.
Moroccan Herbed Fish
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus additional for frying the fish
1 pound skinless firm-fleshed white fish filet, such as cod or halibut, cut into 4 equal pieces
all-purpose flour seasoned with salt
and pepper for dredging the fish
In a food processor or blender purée the coriander, the parsley, the garlic, the lemon juice, the paprika, the cumin, the cayenne, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and salt and pepper to taste. In a skillet heat 1 inch of the additional oil to 375°F. on a deep-fat thermometer, dredge the fish in the flour, shaking off the excess, and in the oil fry it, turning it once, for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked through. Transfer the fish to paper towels to drain, divide it between 2 plates, and drizzle the sauce over it.
Recipe Source: Epicurious.com