Inside A Scene: The Bourne Supremacy (Article for FilmFisher)

I’m going to cheat a little and write about two scenes. When Timothy asked if I could write an article for FilmFisher’s “Inside a Scene” series, I automatically thought of the Moscow apartment scene at the end of Paul Greengrass’ 2004 espionage-thriller sequel, The Bourne Supremacy. I’ve always been intrigued and moved by this scene, and it continues to be one of the reasons why I’d argue that Supremacy is much more than a serviceable genre exercise. The Bourne trilogy is typically remembered as the brainy, grounded alternative to James Bond, as an action-hero vehicle for Matt Damon, as the proving ground for Paul Greengrass’ later critical hits (United 93Captain Phillips), or as the series that either reinvigorated Hollywood action films or ruined them forever, depending on who you ask. However, I don’t think there’s been as much discussion about how the trilogy — especially Supremacy, the middle film — is rooted in ex-assassin Jason Bourne’s very human struggle to change his ways and make restitution for past sins. This is what elevates The Bourne Supremacy and makes the quiet and understated apartment scene — not a car chase or fistfight — the high point of the franchise.

However, as I began to revisit the film in my mind, I realized that the scene between Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and Irena Neski (Oksana Akinshina), though powerful in itself, is even more significant when viewed as the mirror image — in purpose, staging, visuals, and themes — of an earlier scene: the Berlin hotel room scene between Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) and Pamela Landy (Joan Allen). The two scenes are halves of a single, cohesive unit.