The Bourne Trilogy Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
The box set comes in a nice box with a magnetic Bourne on the front holding it all together. It’s got that groovy metallic sheen and inside it’s got 3 full Blu-Ray boxes, not just little flaps or sleeves. It’s not an odd size so it fits perfectly on the DVD shelves, which should always be a consideration for these DVD making folks.

The menus are kind of annoying. I don’t like live action from the movie in the menus. I will watch the movie when I watch the movie..get it? Other than that they are fine, functional, designed to fit the Bourne theme.

It’s a nice package for a quality set of movies. I just wish they would have put an old fashioned fold up poster of Bourne inside for those of us who appreciate a good action hero pin up every once in a while.

Features: 9/10
The Bourne Identity

  • Alternate Opening & Alternate Ending – The start and finish of the first movie was quite different to how the theatrical version ended up being. These scenes were retooled altering the entire movie because 9/11 happened and the filmmakers didn’t want to start the movie with a explosion and end with Marie missing and Bourne looking for her.
  • The Ludlum Identity/The ludlum Supremacy/The Ludlum Ultimatum – A 3 part documentary looking at Robert Ludlum and the process of converting his novels into the movies.
  • Deleted Scenes – A handful of deleted scenes from the movie, my favorite being a extended conversation between Bourne and Marie.
  • The Bourne Mastermind Robert Ludlum – A short Documentary chronicling the mastermind behind the Bourne books. You even get to see a old archive interview with Bryant Gumbel and Robert Ludlum.
  • Access Granted An Interview With Screenwriter Tony Gilroy – An interesting talk with the screenwriter for the movie, he explains how different the books are to the movies and which parts were taken  out.
  • From Identity To Supremacy Jason & Marie – A short piece with Matt Damon and Franka Potente talking about the relationship with Jason & Marie, funnily enough this is all about the sequel not the first movie at all.
  • Inside A Fight Sequence – A fly on the wall look at Matt Damon filming one of the movies fight sequences. You also get a glimpse of the directors controlling nature.
  • Feature Commentary With Director Doug Liman – This is the commentary from the original DVD release, its interesting but the director goes into more detail on his process than the story.
  • Extended Farmhouse Scene – A short scene where Bourne, Marie and the family eat dinner and discuss baby alligators, its pretty funny but so so short.
  • The Birth Of The Bourne Identity – A HBO style piece that sets up the story for the movie, it’s mainly talking heads and spoilers so don’t watch if you have not seen the movie yet. It runs about 15 minutes.
  • The Bourne Diagnosis – One of those pretentious spots that takes a real doctor and explains amnesia to you as though you are 12 years old.
  • Cloak & Dagger Covert Ops – A look around the CIA building with a real CIA officer, this compares the work and location of the real CIA and the CIA in the movie.
  • Moby Extreme Ways Music Video – I normally couldn’t give a hoot about music videos but I like Moby and especially this song, It’s a shame its in standard def like most of the features here.
  • U- Control (PIP, Bourne Orientation, Bourne Dossier) – I am still not a fan of U-Control but the Bourne Dossier stands out here, if you are confused about some of the deals and double crosses in the movie this feature explains in detail how everything ties together. The Bourne Dossier is a overlay that explains about the characters etc.

The Bourne Supremacy

  • Deleted Scenes – Several deleted scenes all are super short and not that interesting, we see Bourne buy a car and find a shack that’s about it.
  • Matching Identities Casting – Paul Greengrass explains how they went about casting the movies, he also bigs up Matt Damon as though hes super excited to be directing a movie with Matt in it.
  • Keeping It Real – This explains how the director went about making the movie feel real and also the process of bringing a new director into the project.
  • Blowing Things Up – One of the main scenes in the second movie is when Bourne opens a gas pipe in a house and puts a magazine in a toaster and lets the place explode. This is a short with the stuntmen and pyro guys involved explaining exactly how it went down. Interestingly enough no one was hurt 🙂
  • On The Move With Jason Bourne – One of the main things that appeals to me in the Bourne movies are the locations, this extra goes through each city and the director explains why they used that area. None of the places in the movie you see are faked they actually went to all the locations involved to film.
  • Bourne To Be Wild Fight Training – A closer look at the epic fight between Bourne and Yarda in Munich. Matt Damon explains how difficult the scene was to film and how much training it took to pull it off.
  • Crash Cam Racing Through The Streets Of Moscow – This takes a look at the main car chase scene in the movie, they show how they used hand held camera to create a visceral look unlike any other car chase.
  • The Go Mobile Revs Up The Action – I think this is my favorite extra on the disc its pretty much test footage that shows how the camera rig they strapped to the car looks. it’s a really in depth look at a a rig they purpose built for the chase.
  • Anatomy Of A Scene The Explosive Bridge Chase Scene – This is a short about the bridge scene more behind the scenes action and chat from the director.
  • Scoring With John Powell – A look at the how the amazing music for the Bourne Trilogy was composed. I really like the score in all three movies so its great to hear some of it in a isolated form.
  • Feature Commentary With Director Paul Greengrass – Again this isn’t a new commentary its taken from the old DVD. Still if your upgrading to Blu-Ray you might as well have everything so you can throw the DVD out.
  • The Bourne Mastermind Part 2 – A Continuation of the documentary from the first disc this one is very short though less than 5 minutes.
  • The Bourne Diagnosis part 2 – Not as pretentious as the first discs feature but still its almost the same information so its redundant.
  • U- Control (PIP, Bourne Orientation, Bourne Dossier)

The Bourne Ultimatum

  • Deleted Scenes – Pretty good deleted scenes on this disc probably the best of the three. There is even a extended aftermath scene in court dealing with operation Tread stone.
  • Be Bourne Spy Training – A game of sorts small clips of the movie are played and you have to answer questions based on them. I am really bad at these things so I never became Bourne I guess I am more of a Bond.
  • Man On The Move Jason Bourne – This feature takes all the cities used in the movie and gives you a behind the scenes look at each. It’s pretty lengthy and split into parts. My favorite part shows them filming in Waterloo Station in London, they actually filmed it while the station was operational which looks like it took some organizing.
  • Rooftop Pursuit – The Rooftop chase in this movie looks like its the most grueling of all the chases. This short feature shows Matt Damon and Matt Damon’s Friend going through the paces to get in shape for the big scene.
  • Planning The Punches – This one follows Desh preparing for the fight in the bathroom in the movie. He uses a mixture of caballero fighting and some of Bruce Lee’s moves.
  • Driving School – Matt and some stuntmen go to advanced driving school for the day. Matt actually looks like a decent stunt driver well most of the time anyway he does mess up a few times. The stuntman says that Matt is good at doing 720’s then calls him a multi-talented bastard.
  • New York Chase – More behind the scenes action from the New York chase, not much different from the other shorts but if you like behind the scenes stuff this will satisfy you.
  • Feature Commentary With Paul Greengrass – Again from the old DVD but still a fascinating commentary with a lot of tips for aspiring filmmakers.
  • U- Control (PIP, Bourne Orientation, Bourne Dossier)

The Movies: 9/10
I have always thought of this trilogy not as three movies, but as one big film. I know, it’s three movies, I get it. I’m just saying it’s not like that in my mind, so that’s not how I will write the review.

The story of Bourne goes something like this, a guy forgets who he is but he has an arsenal of seriously lethal skills and throughout his journey to discover the mystery of who he is, he’s being pursued by people he doesn’t remember or understand their place in his life. It’s superficially about a man finding his identity, and when you scratch the surface you find politics, corruption in government, conspiracies, greed, and a love story.

The Bourne Identity –  The introduction to the man and his identity crisis, opens with a man floating in the open ocean, mostly dead. He’s been shot and has a strange piece of metal surgically installed in his hip. This is Jason Bourne, but he doesn’t know that for a while. He follows a vague trail to a bank account, to clues to his identity, and then to a woman. This woman is down on her luck, and just as interesting as her new male companion. They forge a fledgling relationship based on some secrets, his confusion, and sooner than later some deadly confrontation with a crazed man who gets an ink pen stuck in his hand without flinching. Yep, this is why the Bourne movies are so much fun, the innocent romance, crazy hit men, and more.

The crazy hit man is a theme throughout the entire trilogy. Trained killers who can fight insanely, take a beating and keep on ticking and they are all incredible to watch. They are varied and each have a personality of their own even if we never hear them speak. I like a bad guy who can leave that kind of impact just with their fighting style and that nasty vibe they give off. That’s one of my favorite things about these movies, the fight sequences. They are intense, up close and personal, and pretty severe. There is no letting up from the time the first punch is thrown until one or more bodies are flung to the underworld. I’m a huge fan of True Romance in which my favorite fight scene of all time took place. Alabama fights Virgil and it’s the most memorable fight scene of my movie watching career. That was until Matt Damon hit the action man role of Jason Bourne.

Another thing that makes this set of films stand apart would be the car chases. This man of intrigue with a hidden past that seems to be making his life complicated finds himself in a chase about once more times per movie. This might seem formulaic and boring…and I’m not a fan of car chases, trust me…. but these kick ass. Seriously, the crashes are not the glossy Hollywood type crashes. They are more up close, more ‘realistic’, if you can say that about a movie car crash. There is an effort made to make these sequences exotic with the varied locations around the world along with the vehicles used.

The Bourne Supremacy – Brings us closer to understanding who Jason Bourne is, still fighting, still car chasing, but now with more submerged in political intrigue. The criss-crossing of characters and who did what can get a bit overwhelming if you aren’t paying attention. Everything does unfold appropriately, you just need to hang in there. Part of realizing who Jason is, or was, comes through faded memories and dreams he has been having about one specific incident from his past. He follows the trail of his pieces of memories while a bigger conspiracy web is sucking him. Someone tries to frame him as a pawn in a cover-up. Yes, it sounds a bit dry and an overused premise for a story. I say that’s a fair statement, but the things that set Bourne apart are those great fights, the car chases, the characters are all solid and well played, and Matt Damon emerges as an even more watchable anti-hero.

The Bourne Ultimatum – Is put into the mix to bring us to a conclusion about our man Jason Bourne and to further explain his past. The opening of the movie is unique in the time line and it’s yet another thing that makes this set of films a great experience. There isn’t that feeling of old stale action drama flick conventions. With the introduction of new characters in each movie, while keeping several of the people we are already familiar with, we are kept in the story and not torn away with a whole new set of rules, names, and faces to learn around every corner. Ultimatum gives us a more worn down, tired, used up Bourne who struggles with injuries and more flashbacks to a terrible past.

We are brought more into the fold of who Jason Bourne is and how he became who he is. We might not like what we find, or we might be more endeared to him. It’s a well constructed story with enough flashbacks to trickle the information we need into our minds, but not so much flashing back that it gets tiresome. Flashbacks can be tiresome if you have seen enough of them through your movie watching career, that’s for sure.

Let’s talk about the women in all three movies. They are strong, well acted, not damsels in distress, and they all make sense. I mean, they aren’t just tossed in for effect or to give a bit of ying to Bourne’s yang, if you know what I mean. They are important characters who further the story, the whole story, not just as token adversaries, love interests or companions for our leading man. Joan Allen, Franka Potente, and Julia Stiles all deserve notice for their memorable performances.

Like I said before, the main theme of these movies is consistent, a man finding himself. It’s not an original idea and might not seem very compelling, but when you put it in the mix with such awesome action, a great showing by Matt Damon, excellent female leads throughout, creepy bad guys, and fantastic locations, well, it’s going to be one of my favorite trilogies for many years to come. That is until they make Bourne #4, then I don’t know what I”ll do.

Audio & Video: 8/10
Audio & Video quality is a mixed bag with the arrival of Bourne on Blu-Ray. I owned the HDDVD versions of all three movies and to be quite honest even though Blu-Ray has more storage space there is not much difference in picture quality over the three films. When I say mixed bag it’s pretty much the first movie that is the main offender and it’s not the fault of the transfer, it’s the actual quality of the movies camera and focus work. A lot of scenes are very dark with little detail in the black areas of the picture and there are times when the movie seems out of focus. Things get better in the second movie where blacks look better and the focus problem is not an issue anymore, and by the third movie things look amazing like a HD movie should.

Audio is upgraded over the HDDVD version with DTS HD Master 5.1 Audio on all 3 discs. The surround sound is very impressive on these movies with car crashes and explosions really rocking the .1 channel. Speech, which there is a lot of,  is also well handled with crisp dialog up front and center where it should be. One small thing I want to mention here is I use -25DB as a listening level on my receiver for all movies, which really gives the cinema type feel. I had to step that back 2 or 3 notches for the third movie as it seems to be mastered slightly higher than the others. It’s not a problem, but is quite the surprise if you watch the films all in a row without altering your settings 🙂

Value: 7/10
This is an excellent set of movies, excellent Blu-Ray collection, excellent presentation…not an excellent price of nearly a hundred bucks!! Come on people!! I know it’s a kick ass trilogy and this set has sooooo many extras, it’s just that it’s not worth that kind of cash!! I can’t give it a good score for value even though I do think it’s a ‘must have’ collection for some folks. I’d pay $35.00 if it was on my shopping list. You can find the set online for around $50-$60, but that’s even a bit steep if you ask a cheapskate like me. If you are a die hard fan of the series I guess you’ll go for it, but if you just want to watch some really good time action flicks and are not into the whole, “I buy DVD’s” thing, rent’em on a weekend when you have time to watch them all in a row!!

Overall Score 10/10