Bourne: The Ultimate Collection - Ultra HD Blu-ray
- Street Date:
- June 6th, 2017
- Reviewed by:
- Brian Hoss
- Review Date: 1
- May 22nd, 2017
- Movie Release Year:
- 602 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the individual Ultra HD Blu-ray releases of the Bourne films as well as the standard Blu-ray releases. Writing credits for the review include Nate Boss, Peter Bracke, Shannon T. Nutt, and Brian Hoss.
The awkwardly titled Bourne The Ultimate Collection, brings together the (as of now) five-film Bourne franchise in one package on Ultra HD Blu-ray. This eleven-disc package includes the films on Ultra HD Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray, and Digital HD, but the collection is really just the five individually cased movies plus a bonus DVD. There are five Digital HD codes, one for each movie, and happily, they yield Vudu UHD versions that support Dolby Vision and Dolby Digital Plus. The lone Bonus Disc DVD insert appears to be exclusive to the set, though it's likely been included in some of the previous Bourne sets. Because most of the special of features in the set are relegated to the regular Blu-rays, this DVD likely contains features that had, in prior releases, been left on the DVDs and really is specific to Ultimatum and Legacy.
For the debut of the Bourne franchise on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Universal has not only provided HDR10 versions of the film, but all five movies also have DTS:X audio tracks.
The box for the set is a strong cardboard sleeve, which in turn is encased with its own plastic slipcover. While the front has the quiet Bourne silhouette of the fifth film, on the back behind a detachable marketing slip, there is a fun flow chart featuring thumbnails of characters spanning the entire franchise. These thumbs are on the slipcover, and behind on the box, are the characters names in a directory structure.
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
The Bourne Identity (4/5 stars)
Identity has its quirks, and it is the origin for both Bourne as a re-born, independent asset, and as a bad-ass. Why the handlers and other intelligence officers in charge never seem to grasp Bourne's desire to simply be left alone is now one of those plot points that defies common sense. (Or even more granular elements, such as an elite assassin that would carry around a printout of the target.)
This does make the first Bourne a tricky animal. The setting, cinematography, the score, etc. all have the trappings of an espionage thriller, but the plot and the plotting are both simple and brisk. The romance story is also kind of funny as Bourne finds himself needing a ride and only able to hire out the nearest hot mess.
But as ever, it's the action quotient of the movie, specifically, JB's ability to thwart and evade all comers that makes for the much-desired thrills. Whether that means an embassy full of soldiers and police or other supposedly Bourne-level operators, JB is too tough, too quick, and too stealthy to be pinned down. Again, those characteristics seem at odds with an agent who blew a mission and was found floating and effectively bullet-ridden, but the trip down memory lane is as fun as JB's leaping stairway strike.
The Bourne Supremacy (3.5/5 stars)
Released just two years after the original, the second go round for Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) relies heavily on the original to tell the tale, rather than creating its own cohesive story capable of standing on its own two legs. (And by the fifth film, that aspect could almost be considered a series' staple.)
In Supremacy Treadstone takes the fight to Bourne's doorstep, so now, the favor is going to be returned. With no one to turn to and nowhere to hide, the entire globe has to be on alert, as Jason Bourne is back on the scent, seeking out the truth, hoping to clear his name, and go back to seclusion in parts unknown.
The Bourne Supremacy works on many levels, just not on the same level as the original. The story line is a direct role reversal, as the hunted is now the hunter, even though he's still somewhat hunted. This isn't Bourne running. This is Bourne pissed off, wanting answers. He may not know what is going on, but he knows how to play the angles.
The Bourne Ultimatum (4/5 stars)
The core Bourne trilogy is certainly an anomaly, as one could make the case for each of the three films being superior to the others, not only in personal opinion, but in storytelling aspects and cinematic construct. Each film has a distinct attitude and theme, and each, in some way or another, is capable of standing apart as an individual film, not just another chapter in a tale that requires extensive background knowledge.
With The Bourne Ultimatum, the trilogy's final act certainly made the most at the box office, a testament to the growing legion of fans, and, while leaving the door open for more films, Ultimatum gave a satisfying conclusion to the tale of Jason Bourne, just in case the future was free from Matt Damon, super spy. (And after, The Bourne Legacy, it wasn't.)
In The Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne (Damon) has some clues about his past, but is still, for the most part, unaware of all the circumstances revolving around Treadstone and what truly happened to him. When a London-based reporter (Paddy Considine) delves too deeply into a U.S. operation known as Blackbriar, Bourne is again thrust into the spotlight of the shadowy side of the agency trying to silence their rogue amnesiac assassin. The acting is on par with the other films, the villain, while less calculating and methodical, is more vindictive and sinister, and the action (especially the car chases) are kicked up a notch, to the point that it would be hard to top them. Bourne is on the run again, through the Russia, the UK and USA (tying directly into Supremacy), Spain, France, and Morocco, digging up the past before it is gone forever, avoiding the attempts on his life by his former employers, and trying to put an end to the vicious circle that cost him more than just his memories. Action fans rejoice for The Bourne Ultimatum, but those in search of a superior story should still head back to the original.
The Bourne Legacy (3.5/5 stars)
In spite of carrying the Bourne name in the title, and aside from a few namedrops and images on computer screens, Damon does not appear in The Bourne Legacy. Directed by Tony Gilroy (the screenwriter for the first four Bourne films), we're given a new story, featuring a different agent, in a side-story that is not a prequel, sequel, or reboot, sharing some of the events of Ultimatum to inform viewers of when exactly the story takes place.
Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is one such agent on the same path as Bourne, but when the Blackbriar and Treadstone operations are revealed to the public (events seen in Ultimatum), a retired US Air Force colonel (Edward Norton as Eric Byer) involved in the cover-up decides to remove all evidence by eliminating the soldiers these agencies created.
The Bourne Legacy isn't a bad film by any means. It features the same beats fans are familiar with, with constant danger around every corner, no easy escape, and a series of increasingly nasty challenges for the hero to overcome. There's a thrilling chase sequence, plenty of mystery and mystique concerning the entire saga revealed, and a strong core of villains calling the shots, not to mention riveting frenetic action and a beautiful female love interest in Rachel Weisz as Dr. Marta Shearing. It also features far too much forced nostalgia and failed attempts at callbacks to events in previous films that force us out of the film experience, not to mention some dangerous pacing issues and a general sense of anarchy that runs contrary to the excellently crafted, meticulous nature we've come to know from characters in these films.
Jason Bourne (3/5 stars)
After an almost decade-long absence from the screen, Matt Damon returns to one of his most popular roles and Director Paul Greengrass (who helmed two prior Damon entries in this series) joins him. However, writer Tony Gilroy (who wrote all the Bourne movies up until now) – be it because he was otherwise committed, uninterested, or perhaps has had a falling out with either Damon or Greengrass – doesn't return, and it's the lack of Gilroy that proves to be Jason Bourne's Achilles' heel. This movie has all the action one hopes to see in a Bourne flick, but it's lacking a meaningful screenplay to get us to care about anything happening on screen. It's far from a disaster, but it is a disappointment.
But enough about Jason Bourne's many problems, let's focus on what does work: the action sequences. Director Paul Greengrass has a preference to shoot big sequences with as little CGI and as many practical effects as possible, and that passion is certainly on display here. There's a fun motorcycle chase through the streets of Athens early in the movie that many films would save for their climax. Foot chases and fisticuffs also play throughout the movie. But the most impressive action is saved for last – a big chase scene that takes place on the famed Strip in Las Vegas using real cars, real explosions, and real crashes (including one of the vehicles driving into a real casino – the Riviera, which was closing and scheduled for implosion about six months after these scenes were shot). The Las Vegas action alone may be enough to warrant a purchase of this movie. It's arguably the best action scene in any of the Bourne movies and certainly the best action sequence I've seen in any movie this year.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
The main draw for this set is the entire franchise on Ultra HD Blu-ray in HDR10 with DTS:X tracks. The nice Vudu versions are a pleasing bonus in my mind, and for owners of the Blu-ray releases, there is a lot of re-tread in this set. One example of that would be the Ultra HD Blu-ray menus, which feature the same video loops as the Blu-rays but in full-frame and without the old familiar Universal menu design. Of course, without much in the way of special features, a basic design gets the job the done for each movie. The Ultra HD Blu-ray discs have Jason Bourne/Alex Cross disc art with dark backgrounds and plenty of logos. The look is slightly preferable over the reflective standard Blu-rays.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The Bourne Identity 2160p HEVC/H.265 BD-66 2.35:1 (3.5/5 stars)
Hailing from all the way back in 2002, The Bourne Identity is one of the series' stand-outs. Not only is it less slick and clean than the other films, but much of the movie is set in cold, overcast locales and unlit rooms. This is a movie that really shook-up a couple of sub-genres, and yet it clearly is channeling espionage films from the at least the 1970s. At the same time, the ever-present muted color pallet of many modern movies is on-hand, but at least, when combined with a very film-centric look, the photography of Identity in 2.35:1 remains interesting even after several other installments and imitators have had their turns.
On Ultra HD Blu-ray, Identity suffers from several soft images, with items like the CIA HQ exterior looking like stock film. Meanwhile, black levels are improved somewhat, which is a real aide to some scenes, such as when Bourne is faced with other operatives, but doesn't do much to improve the various flashback scenes and their purposely obscure subjects.
The Bourne Supremacy 2160p HEVC/H.265 BD-66 2.35:1 (3/5 stars)
Like the preceding film, The Bourne Supremacy suffers from soft images that can be distracting during a 4K UHD presentation, but it is not as rampant an issue. The digital intermediate source is a small letdown, but not an uncommon one. This Bourne installment has a much more diverse color palette which is obvious right away in Goa. There is a nice thematic shift that comes through visually in colder climates in Germany and Russia and the warmer Italy and India. (It's here where the New York gotcha Pam encounter is first shown, and the coloring is a cold one.) Even in HRDR10, however, this fun smattering of locales can skew from overblown to terribly stark, and even ugly at times. (Such as in the hotel in Berlin.) And yet, this first Supremacy UHD Blu-ray appears to be faithful to the source.
The Bourne Ultimatum 2160p HEVC/H.265 BD-66 2.40:1 (3.5/5 stars)
By the third Bourne film, the visual style for the films was well established. That continues here in Ultra HD and unfortunately, includes some soft images and grainy flashbacks. Several scenes and settings are lifted directly from the preceding film, and with them comes a pretty bleak image that opens up during the film's highlights. Tangiers is the most visually arresting, but even in the subdued NYC setting, there is plenty of detail to be found during one of the best action chases yet.
Some ten years on, and this is my favorite Bourne film. I have long considered it the best looking of the bunch, but it is a very different animal from Jason Bourne, which is a movie that makes counting wrinkles and fibers very easy. Nevertheless, this presentation is arresting. In Waterloo Main, the marquees of the shops have some real pop, and when Simon Ross disappears into a liquor store, the closing door allows the drink coolers to return to a state of inert, but colorful backdrop. In the subsequent hallway attack, the muted look returns, but with better contrast. The impact of the new format is less when staring down Paz' sight.
The Bourne Legacy 2160p HEVC/H.265 BD-66 2.40:1 (3.5/5 stars)
Among its other odd (for the series) characteristics, The Bourne Legacy sees the franchise take on the great outdoors. Aaron Cross is introduced as a pill-popping survivalist who can ascend snowy peaks as easily as he can dispatch villains on a dual-sport. The Alaska scenes really benefit from the improved contrast in HDR10. The dimly lit dinner shared by Cross and the asset played by Oscar Isaac is a challenge for displays. (Especially in the Dolby Vision Vudu version).
By design, Legacy can be madly inconsistent, both in terms of color pallet and image clarity. The Ultra HD Blu-ray version is the best I've seen for this movie, but there are still trouble spots. The ground control station scenes are full of stylish camera moves, with the camera blurring and focusing on the pilots and others in the room, but in various shots noise creeps in and even fills the screen. That could definitely be an inherent issue for the movie, but it contributes to an overall muted look that is less cohesive here than in the prior films.
Jason Bourne 2160p HEVC/H.265 BD-66 2.40:1 (4.5/5 stars)
Jason Bourne was shot on a combination of 35mm, 16mm, and digital equipment, including the Aaton Penelope, various Arri Alexa models, and the Red Epic Dragon. Viewers who are prone to headaches from Director Paul Greengrass's obsession with the 'shaky cam' style aren't going to get much relief here, as Jason Bourne is a movie in constant motion – with the image shaking even when it seems to make no logical sense to what's happening on screen. The movie is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
According to what I was able to uncover online, this Ultra HD transfer of Jason Bourne has been created from a 4K digital intermediate source, meaning it's not an upconvert, and it certainly shows in the finished product. Jason Bourne already looks really good on Blu-ray, but this 4K version adds noticeable detail, depth, inky blacks, and the kind of deep color that can only be found with 4K HDR. The black levels, in particular, are a huge advantage over the Blu-ray version, as much of Jason Bourne takes place in dark, dimly lit, or smoky locations (and the movie overall has that grayish/bluish tint that all the Bourne flicks have had).
Is the 4K version leaps and bounds better than the Blu-ray? Well, not really, but that's more to do with how good the Blu-ray transfer came out than anything faulty about the 4K version. Bottom line is, if you want the best-looking home video version of this movie, go with the 4K release. If you're more of a casual fan who just wants to complete their Bourne collection, you'll be fine with the slightly cheaper 1080p version.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The Bourne Identity (4/5 stars)
Listening to The Bourne Identity in DTS:X, and I have to imagine that when creating the new mixes for the first four Bourne movies, Identity came first. The first film's sound design has always had some dramatic dynamic range, and now in DTS:X, this medley of quiet and loud scenes also features an extra sensation. From the jump, the raging waters that introduce JB have an active stormy presence. And whether it's in the train station, in the park, or even in the quiet French apartment, the DTS:X mix has something extra to emphasize.
The score, including the somewhat iconic end music, might sound the best it has in the home theater. Compared with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 of the Blu-ray, this is a more immersive mix. And that familiar mix is also available on the Ultra HD Blu-ray, along with a DTS Headphone:X track, and Spanish and French DTS 5.1.
The Bourne Supremacy (4/5 stars)
The first sequel in the franchise brought about a more engaging mix, and in DTS:X, the immersive elements are more complimentary to the more consistent presentation. Of course, there are moments where the soundscape becomes very restrained, such as in the apartment fight, which is visceral, but when it's over the music comes storming in and a theatric effect is achieved.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix of the Blu-ray has always been strong, and it remains strong here in DTS:X, most notably in packed scenes such as the Moscow tunnels. The DTS:X mix is bit wilder, but the immersive qualities really just underscore how good the 2004 film sounds today.
Coupled with the DTS:X track is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, a DTS Headphone:X track, and Spanish, French, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese DTS 5.1 tracks.
The Bourne Ultimatum (4.5/5 stars)
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix on The Bourne Ultimatum is still for me, demo material, and like Supremacy, the DTS:X mix is very complimentary. It builds on the highs. It starts with Moscow where radio calls fill the home theater along with the film's score. This very noticeable (for effect) audio panning can be found in the flashback scenes, where recalled statements come in and out of focus just like the JB memory fragments they are meant to be. In Ultimatum, even the CIA offices are abuzz with chatter, and the shifting billboard nest sounds mechanical. By Tangiers, my Marantz SR6011 was getting a full workout, and the chase in New York pushed it even further.
Like the preceding films, the DTS:X track is not the only option. There is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, a DTS Headphone:X track, and Spanish and French DTS 5.1 tracks.
The Bourne Legacy (4.5/5 stars)
Following up on the strong DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix from the Blu-ray, the DTS:X mix is more engaging. Much of the film is more aggressive, with sequences like the cabin destruction really delivering. Even quiet details, like the distant sound of wildlife and aircraft, come through with a deft touch. In sequences like the factory evacuation, the audio shoulders the atmosphere. The immersive quality isn't consistent, however, with scenes like the Cross/Byer flashback falling flat.
Like other films in the series, entire segments are built around audio chatter and nondescript muttering, both with and without score. These elements go well with the new mix, and when there is dialog, (Cross is more of a chatterbox than Bourne), it's very clear.
Joining the DTS:X track are the inherent DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, a DTS Headphone:X track, and Spanish, French, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese DTS 5.1 tracks.
Jason Bourne (4.5/5 stars)
The featured track here is an DTS:X track that lives up to what we expect for this audio format, although it's just short of being reference-quality. The movie's opening moments have some aural fun to them as Jason Bourne's memories about his past feature sequences where the audio reverberates through the speakers, both front and back. There are numerous scenes featuring crowds in the movie, so the rears are also used then to provide the listener/viewer with an immersive feeling to the proceedings.
The surrounds are also used quite a bit to enhance the musical soundtrack and, of course, to add to the fun during the movie's many action sequences. If there's one fault I have with the DTS:X track, it's that the low-end LFE doesn't seem to have nearly as much "oomph" to it as I would have expected, although it's still noticeable throughout. Dialogue (other than during the flashback sequences) is mostly up-front and cleanly rendered. I detected no apparent glitches or major issues elsewhere.
In addition to the DTS:X lossless track, a DTS Headphone:X track is also available, as are a Spanish 7.1 DTS-HD track and a French 5.1 DTS track. Subtitles are an option in English SDH, Spanish, and French.
Both the 4K disc and the Blu-ray contain the exact same audio/subtitle selections, with the exception of an English DVS (Descriptive Video Service) track, which is only available on the Blu-ray.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Unfortunately for the Ultimate Collection, all of the supplements appear to be carried over from previous releases, and are mostly relegated to the standard Blu-rays. Only the first four films have audio commentary, which leaves Jason Bourne as lacking in that regard.
A breakdown of what supplements are included on the standard Blu-rays can be found in each individual Bourne review.
The Bourne Identity (3.5/5 stars)
The Bourne Supremacy (3/5 stars)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2.5/5 stars)
The Bourne Legacy (2.5/5 stars)
Jason Bourne (1/5 stars)
As mentioned in Introduction, there is a lone Bonus Disc DVD insert that acts as an exclusive disc for this set versus the individual releases. Although it is described as the Bourne The Ultimate Collection Bonus Disc, the DVD contains features that are subdivided into Ultimatum and Legacy supplements.
Some of this is interesting SD EPK stuff, but as an exclusive bonus, it is pretty anemic.
Although the packaging is not as compact as I had hoped for, the Bourne The Ultimate Collection is a welcome treat for the Ultra-HD format and for DTS:X enabled systems. While there has been some significant falloff, I think many big franchises would love to have similar quality number 4 and 5 films. Even with three of five films fall short of the 4K promise, the visual presentation is still an upgrade over the long-cherished Blu-rays. (The included UHD UV copies are a nice bonus as well.) With so few DTS:X discs available as of yet, these action thrillers are easy to recommend, especially for the older trio of Bourne films. Recommended.
- 5-Film 4k UHD Collection
- 2160p HEVC/H.265
- English DTS:X
- DTS Headphone:X
- Spanish DTS 5.1
- French DTS 5.1
- English SDH
- Audio Commentary
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