If they could bottle what gives "The Bourne Ultimatum" its rush, it would probably be illegal. The third and purportedly final installment in the mountingly exciting series is a pounding, pulsating thriller that provides an almost constant adrenaline surge for nearly two hours. Worldwide B.O. will be terrific and likely surpass that for each of the previous two pictures, which combined pulled down more than $500 million.
In setting Jason Bourne on the home stretch of his search to discover who and what made him the killing machine he is, director Paul Greengrass has outdone himself, creating a film of such sustained energy and tension that the infrequent pauses for breath seem startling in their quietude. In other hands, unrelenting nervous camera movement and machine-gun cutting prove wearying more often than not, but Greengrass skillfully employs both not only in the service of excitement, but for the accentuation of telling detail and discreet parceling out of information.
It may not have been entirely apparent at first, but Bourne is unquestionably Damon's signature role, the one in which a viewer becomes most complicit in the actor's identification with a character. The subjective camerawork merely augments the degree to which one is completely with him in the series, and if this is indeed his last "Bourne," as he has said, then this is a performance to be savored all the more.
So it’s not that Matt Damon doesn’t want to talk. Matt Damon talks. And talks and talks. It’s that he has perfected the art—his buddy Clooney does this, too—of talking away for hours on end, amiably and intelligently, without ever revealing squat about Matt Damon. And that is his goal.
In fact, he declares, this might just be his Last Cover Story. Because really, fuck this!
He is still smiling.
He is even smiling when he tells me he "feels sorry" for me. That he assumes interviewing Matt Damon isn’t my "goal in life," either.
"It’s funny," he says. "Every six months, I meet someone who has to try and do this." He laughs. "And it’s like, I feel so bad for you."
"I didn’t expect to see you again," he says, ten days later, as he slips into a booth at Asiate, the restaurant on the thirty-fifth floor of the Time Warner Center in New York City. He’s wearing jeans, a T-shirt, a platinum wedding band, a necklace that his wife gave him (it bears the initials of the three important women in his life—his wife, his infant daughter, and his wife’s daughter), and the Tag Heuer watch that Jason Bourne wears.
Because you knew I wanted to stab you when I left Spain?
"I know." Long pause. Beautiful smile. "I didn’t think you were coming back. I’m sure whatever angle you have, it’s not good for me."
But you’re here.
"I came to take my medicine."
Three rounds of Chardonnay later, here’s what happens with Matt Damon. We begin to understand a few things, starting with this: He’s not a jerk. He is trying to walk that fine line between being a movie star who obviously (and by definition) craves approval and being a regular guy who just doesn’t want to give his life away to the media.
"It’s never gonna be that interesting," says Damon. "It’s only going to make me feel like shit when I read it and go, 'Oh, my God, I’m pimping out my infant daughter now? For what? To sell The Bourne Ultimatum?"
"You know the movie they quote me most often?" says Matt Damon. "Not the Bourne movies. Not Oceans. But Rounders. I can't figure it out."
Greengrass: A 'Bourne' movie is not an airline meal. It's made on the run and it doesn't always work, believe me [Laughs], but with tremendous self-belief in the team and in my view we've got the greatest movie star in the world who's perfect for the part, fantastic producers and a studio who allow us to make this huge franchise movie in this incredible edgy and bold way actually and together as a team we get there, I hope.
Greengrass: I think it feels earned in particular by the franchise, by the three films which really goes to your first question which is how Matt's changed. I think that one of the things that's most interesting to me, and this is a funny thing to say, but the last time that I'll watch this film is when it comes out on DVD. I'm going to sit and watch 'Identity,' 'Supremacy' and 'Ultimatum' back to back and that'll be it. I know what I'll see. He's my friend, Matt, and I love him, but I'll see a wonderful, wonderful actor going through seven years of his life.
"Matt Damon's the friendliest celebrity I've photographed," Herald features photographer Steve Baccon said. "He's an A-list celebrity but he was like a mate. I almost didn't want to take photos because I just wanted to talk."