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THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Universal Studios; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
The excellent Jason Bourne trilogy concludes with The Bourne Ultimatum, a fine action film directed with panache by the brilliant Paul Greengrass. While at times it ventures into rather silly territory (at times some of the unlikely recoveries from fatal-looking accidents resemble the daftest moments of the Pierce Brosnan Bond films, which is ironic since it's this series that killed them off) it remains exciting throughout, and is bolstered no end by the fine collection of actors - Matt Damon, David Strathairn, Joan Allen and Albert Finney carry some serious acting muscle between them. Another key component is John Powell's music - Powell has been with the series from the start, and it is probably responsible as much as anything for firing him higher and higher up the A-list.
If truth be told, much of the music on this album is closely related to that on the previous two - and indeed in the film, some of this wasn't used and they just tracked in music from the others - but that doesn't seem to matter. The themes are now very familiar - but more than that is simply the sound world Powell created for the films, which is unique, and compelling. His mixture of the orchestra and electronics is cutting-edge stuff - he does it better than anyone else - and probably reaches its absolute pinnacle here.
"Six Weeks Ago" opens album and film with reprises of a couple of the well-known themes, before the first killer action cue, "Tangiers", which is absolutely sensational - the stabbing strings and onslaught of percussion both live and sampled is truly thrilling, and there are even recognisable melodies there too. Powell is so good at this - better than anyone else around at the moment - and I hope the end of this series of films doesn't signal the end of him being able to employ this style. I suspect it won't.
"Thinking of Marie" is a lovely presentation of Marie's Theme - tender, romantic, full of longing and regret. Beautiful. Another long and impressive action piece - "Assets and Targets" - follows immediately, and it's not long before "Waterloo", which is over ten minutes of adrenaline-pumping excitement. Powell has done a wonderful job on these scores, and he saved the best for last - The Bourne Ultimatum is a very satisfying album, the very epitome of what a modern thriller score can be - and it's another impressive achievement from this extremely promising composer.