Bourne Ultimatum

Sound Masters: Bourne Ultimatum

By Gabe Cowan
Today is Women’s Equality Day! It’s only fitting that this week’s Sound Masters is a film whose sound design team includes two-time Academy Award-winning sound editor Karen Baker Landers. We’re celebrating this amazing woman in sound by discussing her work on one of Hollywood’s most iconic action films.

In the You Design from a couple of weeks ago, we praised John Wick for changing the action genre. Today, we talk about the action series that made John Wick possible: Jason Bourne. 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum is the third installment in the Jason Bourne series, starting back in 2002. It closely follows the first two films in which Bourne tries to uncover his past as a CIA assassin. The movie is critically hailed as the best in the series and won all 3 of its Oscar nominations: Film Editing, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing.
With multiple car chases, heavy-hitting fight scenes, an array of guns, and bullets whizzing by, the Bourne Ultimatum sound team created an immersive and intense environment. This particular scene is loaded with great foley work, soon followed by sound design that takes the audience through a flashback whirling with heavy panning sounds as Bourne struggles to get his head together. Watch as a scene that could have been fairly simple, and almost calming, maintains pace and anxiety with quick visual cuts doubled with quick sound cuts. The Bourne action series was truly revolutionary for sound, as was the team behind it.