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Section Header
The Bourne Ultimatum
Composed, Co-Programmed, Co-Arranged, and Produced by:
John Powell

Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

Orchestrated by:
David Butterworth
Jake Parker
Gary K. Thomas

Co-Programmed and Co-Arranged by:
John Ashton Thomas
James McKee Smith


Release Date:
July 31st, 2007

Also See:
The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Legacy

Audio Clips:
1. Six Weeks Ago (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

2. Tangiers (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

7. Coming Home (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

9. Jason is Reborn (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.


The Bourne Ultimatum

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Buy it... if you enjoyed the dynamic balance between orchestra and synthesizer in The Bourne Supremacy and especially appreciate the string ostinato for the chase sequences (and the varied percussion that drives it).

Avoid it... if you expect this third entry to take the trilogy of music in any clear direction, especially with only muddied and fragmented performances of the title theme on undermixed bassoon and overly melodramatic strings.

The Bourne Ultimatum: (John Powell) Not much of the original storylines remain from the Robert Ludlum trilogy of novels about Jason Bourne, but the success of the Bourne film franchise thus far opens the door for further exploration of fresh scripts in even more sequels. The title character is still looking to uncover his past in The Bourne Ultimatum, with new governmental villains chasing him, and some former villains now aiding him. It could be argued that the franchise has disintegrated into a reliance on the tactic of immediately following one flashy chase with another, using director Paul Greengrass' jumpy camera techniques to artificially inflate audiences' blood pressures. Composer John Powell is one of the consistent crew members in the trilogy, utilizing a choppy and often frantic string and synthesizer approach to accompany the wildly gyrating camera angles. His score for the introductory film in 2002 was a wretched mess of electronic sampling gone terribly awry, but his more orchestrally dynamic development in the 2004 sequel produced a far more listenable effort. There was speculation at the time of The Bourne Supremacy that Powell was exploring a more sophisticated orchestral and synthetic balance, as well as better thematic development, as the title character came closer to revealing the nature of his identity. The musical formula for The Bourne Ultimatum would much the same as the previous film, though with alterations to the score's instrumental and thematic use that would seemingly negate the progress made in that Powell score. The ensemble stays largely the same, with strings and synthesizer leading varied brass, percussion, and a solo bassoon. The percussion section, however, is given a noticeable boost in diversity, presumably for the wide variety of locations in the film, leading to several cues of impressively authentic rhythms that avoid the pitfalls of the drum pad sound so familiar to these films. Thematically, however, Powell never provides significantly enjoyable development of the primary theme for Bourne in this entry, choosing instead to present the theme in understated fragments. The string ostinato "chase theme" receives its due amount of air time, though its use will be extremely familiar.

For some reason, the album for The Bourne Ultimatum suggests that a brief track-by-track analysis may be more beneficial that blanket descriptions of the score's approach, partly because it's difficult to really get a handle on what direction --if any-- Powell was trying to take the trilogy of music with this score. He opens "Six Weeks Ago" with an immediate high string performance of fragments of the title theme in solemn fashion before reprising more related fragments on brass over standard beds of Hans Zimmer percussion and string rhythms. Whether the synths are largely involved in this and further such outbursts doesn't really matter; either they are, or the mixing of the recording is, as Zimmer likes to do, manipulated to make the orchestral ensemble resound with the same sharp edges as its synthetic counterparts. The string ostinato that defines Bourne's chasing music explodes in "Tangiers," an impressively decisive cue that introduces percussion that will remind many listeners of David Arnold's cue for the similarly rendered chase scene at the outset of Casino Royale. The bassoon performance of Bourne's primary theme in "Thinking of Marie" is badly underemphasized, never raising the sincerity of the "New Memories" cue in The Bourne Supremacy. The dynamic range of the authentic percussion takes center stage in "Assets and Targets" before Powell utilizes a "tortured string" motif in "Faces Without Names," based on the title theme. This usage would repeat in both "Coming Home" and "Jason is Reborn," and when placed in contrast to the modern, sophisticated edge of the chase music, it seems falsely melodramatic. Powell pulls the strings too hard in these cues, quite literally. Fans of Powell's first two scores will likely prefer the return to the relentless string rhythms in "Waterloo," which once again evokes Arnold's Bond music and this time throws in a hint of the samba style heard in "Goa" from the previous score. While the drums and metallic elements may be the same, and there's even a slight performance of the title theme over it to boot, Powell never provides the kind of enjoyable harmonic performance (of arguably false hope) that you heard in "Goa."

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Before the aforementioned, agonizingly shrill violin offering in "Coming Home," Powell utilizes a tapping snare and Eastern wood strikes to form interestingly multicultural rhythms. The string rhythms would reach a frantic pace in "Man Versus Man" and the title theme's tortured melodramatics would transfer to lower strings at the outset of "Jason is Reborn" before that final score cue would throw in one last solo percussion rhythm of interest. After the final crescendo of high string drama, Powell allows the solo bassoon to trail off towards the score's subdued end, surely hinting at more Bourne music to come. The Moby performance of "Extreme Ways" now closes all three films in the trilogy, and its variant here is largely the same as the one on the previous album (though with an extended intro containing that obnoxious wailing synth sound to greater lengths). When you step back from this score's individual elements and look at its effectiveness as a whole, some parts work better than others. The title theme so attractively packaged in "Goa," "New Memories" and "Atonement" from The Bourne Supremacy, arguably the best parts of that score, is lost in fragmented performances throughout The Bourne Ultimatum. The over-melodramatic high string variant of that theme is actually quite irritating. A less engaging performance by the bassoon weakens the few character moments in the score, though a poor mix of the instrument may be to blame. The continued use of the same string ostinato for the chase sequences isn't yet burdensome, but Powell has to expand upon its performance depth to maintain interest in it. He accomplishes this with the greatest strength of The Bourne Ultimatum: its live percussion. But for every kick-ass percussive moment in the score, there is a moment when the broad, thumping bass from the old Media Ventures days counters with a tired intrusion. It's a score that takes one step forward and one step back. It's far more listenable than The Bourne Identity, but not quite as much so when compared to The Bourne Supremacy. If the chase never ends for Mr. Bourne, then we may be treated to even more somewhat stagnant regurgitation in the future. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Powell reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.1 (in 40 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.03 (in 45,173 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.03 Stars
Smart Average: 3.03 Stars*
***** 132 
**** 188 
*** 214 
** 174 
* 123 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: "Tangiers" is by far the best...
  Mark Malmstøm -- 3/30/09 (2:54 p.m.)
   What happens to the Opening?
  Marcato -- 2/11/09 (3:16 p.m.)
   Re: Song at the end
  Marcato -- 9/30/08 (2:44 a.m.)
   Bourne Soundtracks
  Edd -- 5/28/08 (3:52 a.m.)
   Song at the end
  Saleha -- 10/22/07 (1:54 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 54:59

• 1. Six Weeks Ago (4:31)
• 2. Tangiers (7:40)
• 3. Thinking of Marie (3:51)
• 4. Assets and Targets (7:18)
• 5. Faces Without Names (3:31)
• 6. Waterloo (10:38)
• 7. Coming Home (3:19)
• 8. Man Verses Man (5:45)
• 9. Jason is Reborn (4:04)
• 10. Extreme Ways (Bourne's Ultimatum) - performed by Moby (4:22)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Bourne Ultimatum are Copyright © 2007, Decca/Universal. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/1/07 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2007-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.