The Bourne Trilogy Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Bourne Trilogy is presented to us in 1080p using the VC-1 codec, with both Identity and Supremacy using a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and Ultimatum opting for the slightly wider 2.40:1 AR.
All the films rank towards the higher end of the rating scale as they all show a good degree of detail and lack any significant processing or encoding flaws. Of the set, Identity has to rank as the one that lags slightly behind the pack. The bleak look of greying skies and the bluish toe that help evoke a feel of the 1980s, the heyday of the cold war and a setting many spy thrillers have opted for is entirely intentional. Thus, to mark it down for desaturation would be entirely wrong. The grain structure is the most apparent of all three films but it never intrudes upon the viewing experience, but this remains the grittiest and grainiest fo the series. Blacks are good but not exceptionally strong, being prone to slight crushing and the shadow detail sometimes falls close to muddiness.
Supremacy ups the stakes in all departments. Whislt the director has changed between films, the Director of Photography, Oliver Wood remains a constant, thus there was never likely to be too much of a shift in visual style. What little there is, comes from the slight move from the bleak blusih tone to a more green/yellow tinge. The blacks are bold and the colours are particularly rich when moving to exterior shots such as the intitial scenes in Goa where the oranges and greens have a real vibrancy to them. Grain structure is more refined as well but detail never suffers. The abnormality of the lighting in interior scenes is entirely artistic and not a problem with the transfer process. It is safe to say that the faces never appear un-lifelike or rather no odder than any other skin tones under low artificial light. This creates a clear distinction between those encompassed in an oft light deprived hiding hole of intelligence and technology as opposed to those out in the field, and very effective it is too.
Ultimatum stands as the best of the three films, again, levelling the image quality up a notch. There is a greater sense of what people refer to as the “pop” of high definition material here. It has the greatest detail and the strongest black, whilst also retaining suerb shadow detail. The chase sequence in Tangier could have shown any flaws here, but the constant shifting from bright exteriors to shady interiors never once shows this transfer to falter. Put simply, this is a stunning illustration of how to put a film across to a home format - strong in every department.
Overall, all three are fine examples of detail, clarity and stability, with only the most marginal (and I can't stress how marginal) nit picking of flaws to be seen throughout their almost six hour run time. Each film gets progressively better than the last, to the point where there really isn't any realistic improvement to be made.
SoundHaving previously been released on HD-DVD where only the final instalment of the series received a lossless sound track, here we are pleasingly gifted with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for all three of the trilogy.
If the visual side of this package seemed of a high calibre then you'd better sit down for the audio as it is frankly stunning. Again, like the picture, Identity arguably ends up being the lesser of the bunch. However, unlike the aforementioned visual scores, when it comes to sonics, it is a much closer affair, with the original film only being marginally pipped in terms of audio quality. The swirling sounds of the ocean into which we first find Bourne's seemingly lifeless body is stunning in its effectiveness. Wind and tidal noises rise and fall as both the boat and viewer are encompassed by a living storm.
Dialogue is consistenly crisp and clear and only very occasionally in Identity did I notice it being less than perfect, lacking an element of roundness found in the other two examples. The standout element though has to be the absolutely stunning degree to which this mix creates a feeling of a 360 degree soundfield. The pans and steerage is absolutely stellar, yet it is able to find great precision in between to highlight individual sounds with almost pin point accuracy. Greengrass's sequels ramp up the amount of noises to be heard and it is all handled adeptly.
Bass is strong and tight and draws the cars from the screen with a pleasant rumble that is both punchy yet subtle. The contrast between moments of tranquillity and the sudden action is so well executed that it takes the final moments of the trilogy and the last gunshots to a whole new level. This is the only way to watch these films. Gunshots, bullet shell casings, crowd scenes, dialogue and the twisted metal of car wrecks are all so well realised that it is hard to find fault. From the watery introduction of the first film, to that which punctuates the last, this is an aural pleasure to revel in.
ExtrasThe Bourne Identity
The Ludlum Identity - 480p - 12:49
A mini biography of author Robert Ludlum as told by friends, colleagues and vintage clips of televised interviews with the man himself. There are some interesting titbits here but I couldn't help being distracted by the score from the Bourne films being played over even the most un-suspenseful anecdote. Grating, but it doesn't overly spoil a decent feature.
The Ludlum Supremacy - 480p - 12:41
Not so much to do with Ludlum the man, as opposed to his creations. There's a bit of filler as they try to over analyze the names Bourne and Webb, and how they are hyper intelligent ,but ultimately this is a spy thriller - not Waiting for Godot. Luckily it moves onto more meaty topics such as Ludlum's relationship to Bourne as some form of extension of himself and the lack of Carlos the jackal from the films.
The Ludlum Ultimatum - 480p - 23:57
Essentially an analysis of how the Bourne novels came to make the leap from best selling novels to blockbuster movies and how the transition was handled.
Alternate opening and alternate ending
This consists of three separate segments. Firstly there is an introduction with Producer Frank Marshall, co-writer Tony Gilroy and actor Brian Cox (480p - 3:33) which briefly delves into how 9/11 shifted the ground from under the spy genre whilst this was being made, thus they intended to bookend the film with two halves of a continues scene which they hoped would aid the film in the climate at the time.
The alternate opening (480p - 2:16) is standard definition but where as we have all become accustomed to such material looking a tad blurred, here the picture is absolutely awful. At its worst, it looks akin to footage taken using a camera phone. The scene itself isn't much better and simply has Bourne in Greece after the events of the movie looking for Marie before collapsing seemingly having been drugged via his drink.
The alternate ending (480p - 4:56) has Bourne awakening to Ward (Brian Cox) explaining how the program has changed and how he wants Jason to re-enlist and aid them. Neither the opening nor ending have much weight to them and clearly look like the tacked on pieces they are/were to be.
Deleted scenes - 480p - 6:58
Consisting of four minor scenes (Wombosi on the private jet, Bourne and Marie by the side of the road, Psychologist discusses Bourne and finally Bourne and Marie practice on subway) these show quite clearly why they were cut as they add little and in some cases would have only served to have muddied the waters of the plot beyond that which was necessary.
Elongated farmhouse scene - 480p - 0:58
Those wanting a longer version of the Damon/Owen confrontation will be sorely disappointed as this is nothing more than a brief dinner scene.
The birth of The Bourne Identity - 480p - 14:32
The type of EPK we've all likely seen before - light on interesting insight but chock full of cast and crew alike waxing lyrical about each other. Apparently everyone is amazing. Again, the picture is poor.
The Bourne mastermind: Robert Ludlum - 480p - 5:44
Overflow from The Ludlum Identity feature. The same talking heads pop up and cover a lot of similar territory.
Access granted: an interview with co-writer Tony Gilroy - 480p - 4:03
The co-writer takes us through what attracted him to this project and how it was adapted from its source material for the screen.
From Identity to Supremacy: Jason and Marie - 480p - 3:37
Matt Damon and Franka Potente discuss the two characters' relationship and the transition from the first film to the second.
The Bourne diagnosis - 480p - 3:26
A psychiatrist from UCLA discusses the amnesia suffered by Bourne.
Cloak and dagger: Covert Ops - 480p - 5:31
A real life CIA officer relates the reality of a career in the intelligence services.
Inside a fight sequence - 480p - 4:43
A relatively detailed look at the construction of the fight scene within the US Embassy.
Moby “Extreme Ways” music video - 480p - 3:39
Commentary with director Doug Liman
Certainly one of the better commentary tracks you are likely to hear. Liman remains insightful and informative and gives a great degree of background information without wandering too much off topic as some directors are prone to do.
U-Control - Treadstone files
Information about characters , locations etc stylistically presented via dossiers, satellite views and computer models.
U-Control - Bourne orientation
Another interactive feature (though appearing in less chapters than Treadstone files) that aims to give viewers an understanding of some of the lead characters' actions as well as the links between the trilogy of films.
BD Live - My chat
BD Live, how do I hate thee, let me count the ways. I quote “chat live with your buddies while you watch the movie together”. No.
BD Live - My movie commentary
“Create your own webcam video commentary to share with your friends”. I'm afraid I cannot for the life of me envisage ever wanting to hear a commentary from a “buddy” rather than watch the film.
BD Live - Bourne card strategy challenge
A hand to hand combat strategy card game.
The Bourne Supremacy
Explosive deleted scenes - 480p - 10:46
Quite where the “explosive” part of these deletions managed to hide, I'm not sure, though there are some interesting scenes that could easily have made the final cut.
Matching identities: Casting - 480p - 4:58
Greengrass waxes lyrical about Damon as well as everyone else. A fairly lightweight look at the thoughts behind the casting of the various roles.
Keeping it real - 480p - 4:58
Basically a minor dissection of the overall realism that suffuses the film/s and how Greengrass proved to be the perfect choice of director to take over where Liman left off.
Blowing things up - 480p - 4:00
The stunt co-ordinator talks us through the creation of the house explosion in the Munich segment after the fight with the final “treadstone” operative.
One the move with Jason Bourne - 480p - 4:46
Cast and crew discuss the different globe trotting locales they have filmed in.
Bourne to be wild: fight training - 480p - 4:21
I'm not sure who thinks up the titles for these extras but even for a man who enjoys puns, I'm getting weary. This is a glimpse behind the choreography and action of the Munich hand to hand encounter with the final “treadstone” sleeper.
Crash cam: racing through the streets of Moscow - 480p - 5:58
Director and crew discuss the chase and we see how it was designed.
The go-mobile revs up the action - 480p - 6:49
The use of the “go-mobile” - a device to enable more fluid and realistic car chases rather than relying on a trailer towing the vehicle - is highlighted for us. I'm sure many will have seen similar contraptions used before but it's always nice to see the true behind the scenes crew enthusing about their work.
Anatomy of a scene: the explosive bridge chase scene - 480p - 4:41
Delves into how the flight from police which centred around Bourne diving in front of a moving train and dropping from a bridge onto a boat below was orchestrated.
Scoring with John Powell - 480p - 4:46
How John Powell set about creating the composition for the film.
The Bourne mastermind (part 2) - 480p - 4:42
Continuation of the feature about Ludlum found on the disc of the first film.
The Bourne Diagnosis (part 2) - 480p - 5:39
Continuation of the feature regarding Bourne's diagnosis found on the disc of the first film.
Commentary with director Paul Greengrass
Perhaps a little less informative in terms of procedure than his predecessor's commentary, but nevertheless a fine example that focuses on the elements that interested him more than anything else such as story and characterisation.
As before, Bourne dossier and Bourne orientation return for relevant info regarding this instalment.
As before, my chat, my movie commentary and Bourne card strategy challenge all return for those who are that way inclined.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Deleted scenes - 480p - 12:22
Some extra footage that helps to fill out the relationship between Scott Glenn's portrayal of the CIA director and that of Joan Allen's Pamela Landy as well as a minor meeting between the reporter Simon Ross (Considine) and his contact.
Be Bourne: spy training
A few aptitude tests that utilise clips from the film. One annoyance is the inability to exit once the clip has started rolling.
Man on the move: Jason Bourne - 480p - 23:58
A look at the cast and crew on location in numerous different locales - Paris, London, Madrid, Tangier and Berlin doubling for Moscow.
Rooftop pursuit - 480p - 5:39
A closer inspection of the on foot rooftop chase in Tangier and how they shot it using various cranes and cables.
Planning the punches - 480p - 4:59
Fight stunt co-ordinator Jeff Imada talks us through some of the techniques and choreography involved in the Tangier fist fight between Desh (Joey Ansah) and Bourne.
Driving school - 480p - 3:23
We get to see Damon throwing an Audi around a test track in New Jersey in preparation for filming. He clearly enjoys it.
New York chase - 480p - 10:46
2d unit director Dan Bradley amongst others talks us through the shooting of the aforementioned chase, from camera angles to pacing.
Commentary with director Paul Greengrass
As with last time, Greengrass is very focussed on story and narrative. He discusses the transition from page to screen and where the two differ as well as frankly assessing the shoot itself.
As before, only with the imaginatively titled “Blackbriar files” replacing the “Treadstone files” in name only.
As per the previous two discs, nothing is changed with these features.
Overall, a fine set of features that perhaps flatters itself through sheer numbers. I could have done without the constant puns based around the name Bourne, however I suppose it's all part of the game as personally I've never cared for Ludlum's titles anyway. The real disappointment is the poor quality of footage where it really matters. Numerous EPKs and mini features are fine for standard definition fare but some of the deleted scenes look so bad that I honestly can't imagine going back to them unless for some specific reason. On the plus side, there is enough here that all tastes are catered for, with various lightweight games as well as some genuine behind the scenes shots. It is so pleasing to actually see behind the camera as opposed to being given a retrospective that contains no raw footage of any kind. Even if half of the extras don't get watched more than once, there's still a host to be enjoyed.
VerdictIt is fair to say that The Bourne Trilogy is a triumph in its Blu-ray incarnation. In all key areas it stands as a solid example of how films released on the format should be treated. The films themselves are a touch uneven when compared directly to one another, but even the lowest ranking of the three, Supremacy, is far above the average thriller. From the slickness of the production to the cast of actors assembled, everything pulls together with a sense of coherence. The pacing makes one hour and fifty minutes of each film fly by without ever letting up. The beauty of a truly well crafted chase film is its ability to create the illusion that more is happening than is actually being shown. For every moment the predatory forces are glimpsed, there are half a dozen more where they are either unseen or simple not there, which only serves to highlight Bourne's heightened mental status and the paranoia of being followed for both him and the viewing audience. There are flaws, the jarring of the final effect from the first film and the machine gun wielding assassin from the first, the overly shaky camerawork of the second to name a few, but these are the instances that are easily picked out simply because of the wonderfully tight and well thought out positive points that stand in the majority that surround them.
The disc itself is no less accomplished. The picture is amongst the best I've seen, with the first being extremely good, and the series progressing to the point where the final instalment is reference quality. If that weren't good enough, the sound, amazingly, betters this standard. Audio is the best I've personally heard, with stunning directionality and precision. Combined with subtlety where needed and some great use of bass and what you have is a sound package that truly envelopes the listener within the on screen action.
Extras are more mixed, with some nice touches such as the continued credit given to Ludlum's source material and the man himself. There are a number of problems within this area, namely the poor picture quality in places (particularly that of extra footage), but the sheer amount makes it hard to overly criticise the wealth of offerings as a whole. Like a bumper Christmas hamper, there's likely something in there that'll please everyone. If the bite sized mini features aren't to your liking then the depth of the director's commentaries will surely fulfil your appetite for more substance.
Overall, it is hard to fault this fine box set. It is exactly as it should be, being packed to the gills yet not neglecting the most important areas of audio and visual presentation.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £74.39
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