Once you manage to suspend disbelief over the charactersí improbable cell phone reception, you will have to admit that in its melodramatic way, this picture offers a fair approximation of our multitasking lifestyle: ear glued to the phone, eye fixed on the Internet monitor, everyone in the room shouting contradictory advice as we frantically, frustratingly pursue our impossible and in this case deadly deals.
Herein, that consists of apprehending that rogue amnesiac, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). Heís still trying to fill in the last of his pastís blank spots, which continue to give him guilty, sweaty dreams. His many enemies, led by Joan Allen and Brian Cox sheís efficient and chilly, heís passionate and scary remain convinced he has a hidden agenda that somehow threatens Western Civilization As We Know It. We, of course, are just along for the ride, which, as director Paul Greengrass conducts it, consists of a succession of chases in cars and on foot, punctuated by large numbers of sudden deaths.
A lingering shot, for Greengrass, is about two seconds long, and though that style keeps the viscera pinging, the underwhelmed mind eventually starts wandering. It is never allowed to settle sympathetically on Jasonís lack-of-identity crisis. And frankly, it never quite recovers from a critical event (which we wonít detail here) in its first 20 minutes, which deprives the movie of some of its foundation. The Bourne Identity was more grounded in some sort of felt reality. Jason might not have remembered exactly who he was, but he was consistently reminded, and so were we, of what he was struggling to become a fully functioning human being instead of a killing machine.
Will moviegoers mind the flaws? Perhaps not. The Bourne Identity was a huge hit (and the No. 1 home-video rental title of last year). Audiences are primed for more of the same, and on a certain level, this sequel quite stylishly delivers what they liked about its predecessor. Those car chases especially a climactic one through the streets of Moscow have panache and originality. But all really good movies need to stop for breath occasionally so we can catch ours and, if weíre lucky, make some sort of emotional connection with their characters. That doesnít have to be anything fancy. It just has to be something a little more profound than one jolting, quickly forgotten thrill after another you know, something you canít just phone in.