The Bourne Supremacy

"Memento" this film is not; diverting fun it is.

"The Bourne Supremacy" is not a supreme thriller like "Day of the Jackal" but more like the middling "Enemy of State," "The Recruit," or "Spy Game." CIA operative Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is not even a remote substitute for James Bond. But "Supremacy" is an enjoyable chase through Berlin and Moscow and other world sites. The car race through Moscow is memorable albeit unbelievable, ending with curious similarity to the location of Princess Diana's death.

Director Paul Greengrass had an international hit with the docudrama "Bloody Sunday" about the 1972 Irish civil-rights march, so his choice for this film of post-cold war international crime suspense seems appropriate. While the first Robert Ludlum installment, "Bourne Identity," directed by Doug Liman, was fairly free of f/x intrusion because Bourne's fragmented mind was the focus, "Supremacy" suffers from a hyperactive camera and an opening that defies understanding.

Although Matt Damon was never born to be Bourne or any other cinematic CIA assassin, his ordinary good looks and intelligent intensity make him worth watching while he outwits hordes of government agents and the usual battalions of bumbling police. As in "Bourne Identity," he is still working on his amnesia and trying to settle a score with foreign operatives who have framed him.

Brian Cox (the first Hannibal Lecter and recently "Troy") is always an interesting actor; his line, "You're in a big puddle of shit, Pam, and you don't have the shoes for it," is a classic. Franka Potente ("Run Lola Run") has a brief role, bringing back memories of how a winning cinematic race is really run. Joan Allen ("The Contender") does the distaff side of filmmaking a great service by depicting a classy, cool, intelligent agency boss. Still, the film is about unrelenting movement, not great acting or character depth.

Memory is the motif with legs strong enough to take this franchise into a third film. Whether Jason Bourne's memory ever attains what Wordsworth called the "dwelling-place/For all sweet sounds and harmonies" remains to be seen.

"Memento" this film is not; diverting fun it is.