The Bourne Ultimatum

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Bourne Ultimatum Movie Poster Image
Excellent, smart spy thriller for mature teens and up.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 115 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 62 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Mixed messages. Government is portrayed as corrupt and manipulative, and the main character battles against it in order to live a free life. On the other hand, the fight scenes are what makes the Bourne movies so watchable, so while the ideals of righteousness and purity are celebrated, so is violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bourne is singularly moral-minded, though he hasn't always been that way; CIA agents and other killers are deadly, calculating, and cold.

Violence

Bourne first appears limping and being chased aboard a moving train; he jumps off, finds a hospital, trails blood everywhere, washes his bloody hands, self-injects a needle full of painkiller, hits one officer and holds his gun on another. Flashbacks throughout show young Bourne's torture (hooded figures, waterboarding, frantic camerawork and dissolves), refer to his girlfriend's murder ("shot in the head"). Scene in morgue shows corpse. Violent acts -- shown in chaotic camerawork and editing -- include explosions (preceded by bomb-making), punching, kicking, flipping, leaping, falling, crashing through a window, car-crashing and -screeching, shooting (by snipers and face-to-face), bone-breaking, stabbing.

Sex

In subjective flashbacks, Bourne tenderly kisses Maria (his dead girlfriend), once underwater, as she floats away.

Language

Several uses of "s--t" and "damn," repeated uses of "hell" in frustration (e.g., "What the hell's going on here?").

Consumerism

Vespa motorbike.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In flashbacks, Bourne and another man appear to be sedated.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Bourne Ultimatum features wall-to-wall action, much of it violent, causing repeated, bloody injuries to Bourne. The film includes car chases and crashes, explosions, fights, falls from great heights, smashes through windows, and murders (hand-to-hand, by gunfire), as well as images of dead bodies. The plot involves high tech surveillance and a dastardly, secret CIA program, and the hero comes to distrust his (U.S.) government (that said, Senate hearings at film's end lead to arrests of "rogue agents"). Language includes "s--t," "damn," and "hell."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySurprise April 9, 2008
Media is allowing too much to filter through to our children. May seem cool, but definately too much violence/suspense for a pre/mid-teen to see. Great ADULT f... Continue reading
Adult Written byChance M. February 20, 2017

WOW!!!!!

That basically sums it all up. It was perfect, The violence was more than the previous and just a bit more brutal with choking,stabbing,shooting,etc... This is... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysgjohnson February 4, 2010

Best Bourne movie

The story starts off with action and then builds up. It has the right balance of fighting, talk/investigation, and humor. The car chase stands out in a world wh... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 November 13, 2009

Wonderful movie, but way to violent for kids.

Wonderful movie, but extremely violent.

What's the story?

In THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM -- the very smart third film in the Bourne series -- super-spy-assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) finally gets some answers. In a plot that resembles Robocop meets Manchurian Candidate, Bourne seeks not only his identity, but also the individuals responsible for both his loss of memory and extraordinary killing skills. His search leads him from Torino to Paris, London to Tangier, and then on to Manhattan, each city yielding a piece of Bourne's puzzle. His hunters this time include the CIA's Deputy Director Vosen (David Strathairn) and others behind the scenes, who use all manner of astounding surveillance technology as well as "assets," or killers trained like Bourne. No longer a brutal instrument of the government, eliminating "targets" for unknown reasons, Bourne now becomes a moral center, a remarkably resilient one at that. Again and again, he rises from crashes and fights, like the Terminator, ever in motion, resolved to find his secret-agency "maker."

Is it any good?

The film's action is stunning (fast, visceral, stylized), and the consequences deadly. When he learns that a London Guardian reporter, Ross (Paddy Considine), has stumbled onto Blackbriar, Bourne makes contact, then directs his every step by cell phone, negotiating a crowded Waterloo Station and avoiding a CIA sniper. Given his deep sense of loss concerning Marie (killed in the last film), it's not surprising that Bourne shares a distrust of the CIA with two women, specialist Pam Landy (Joan Allen) and an agent, Nicky (Julia Stiles), who both helped to track Bourne in the previous films and now question Vosen's extreme measures. Nicky's understanding of Bourne may be the most poignant, as she watches him resolve a brilliantly edited chase scene in Tangier with an amazing fight against yet another "asset."

Bourne's quest leads him to ugly truths, about himself and the behavior-modifying experiment that created him. As his memory returns, he has flashbacks of his training, including torture. The film goes on to show that Bourne once believed he was doing the right thing, that he would "save American lives" by giving himself "to the program." When he finally finds himself, he sees he must determine his own motivations, not believe in someone else's.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Bourne's sense of betrayal: How does he come to see himself as a tool, created and used by the CIA, and how does his moral sense lead him to challenge his "employers"?

  • Why might it be significant that Bourne is helped by the two women agents, who both question their boss' efforts to cover up the secret program?

  • How does Bourne's amnesia make him different from most other, very self-secure action heroes?

  • Does the violence in The Bourne Ultimatum ever feel over the top? Is it exciting or gruesome? Which do you think it's intended to be? Why?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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