All along, they've been calling this the summer of threes -- you know how "they" can be, putting things into tidy little boxes. And they focused mainly on the ballyhooed blockbusters that came out at the beginning of the summer: third installments in the "Spider-Man," ''Shrek" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises.
But now as we're creeping into August, traditionally a dumping-ground time at the movies, we have easily the best threequel of all. "The Bourne Ultimatum" kicks all of their butts -- literally and figuratively. It's the first one that doesn't feel like a dragged-out continuation of a series, but rather a climactic, satisfying culmination. (Though, who knows? The ending does leave the door open for the possibility of "Bourne 4.")
Paul Greengrass, who also directed part two, 2004's "The Bourne Supremacy," as well as the riveting "United 93," continues to prove himself a master of mood. He's done something astonishing here: He's made an action film that's both delicate and aggressive, a difficult balance to strike. It's all stuff you've seen before -- car chases, fistfights, international jet-setting and spy vs. spy intrigue -- but it's so expertly crafted and the cast is so superb that "Bourne Ultimatum" exceeds all expectations of the genre.
Matt Damon remains a strong, stoic force in the center as the amnesiac assassin of Robert Ludlum's novels, still seeking answers about his past. David Strathairn, Joan Allen and Julia Stiles co-star.