It’s hard to watch The Bourne Ultimatum and not consider the star of the show is director Paul Greengrass. While watching the film last night (which I rather liked), I felt like I was watching a filmmaker getting to play by his own rules within a major studio package. It’s almost as if Universal Pictures looked at the acclaim, success, and Oscar nomination he received for helming their United 93 and said, “Go ahead, do what you want.” And he didn’t let them down. While The Bourne Supremacy (which he also directed) features much of the same verite-style cinemtography and rapid-fire editing, Ultimatum fires on all cylinders with it, and in a more artful way. It’s gonna make some audiences dizzy, but delight most.
Greengrass belongs to the “less is more” school of action directing, giving you snippets of what you need and hoping you catch up with the characters. And if you don’t, watch it again or pay more attention. It’s very similar to what director Michael Mann has spent the last 10 years perfecting. And, I like it a lot. Mann’s style is more ambient and impressionistic in tone, while Greengrass utilizes a staccato rhythm. The overall effect, in my opinion, is similar. This is all just a long way of saying that I can’t wait to see what Greengrass does next. But also: how he does it.