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The Bourne Identity Review
By Shawn McKenzie 06/12/2002
I have discovered over the last couple of months since I
launched this site that I seem to feel compelled to try and find at least one
thing wrong with every movie I see so I don't come off looking like a
cheerleader for Hollywood. Since I don't get passes for every movie released
(and I can't afford to pay to see the movies I don't get passes for), I end up
seeing mostly movies that I like. I can't help it, I'm a huge movie geek who
obsesses about movies!
The reason I bring this up is because I honestly can't find a problem with
The Bourne Identity. I really looked too! This movie lived up to all my
expectations. The acting, the editing, the choreography, the directing, and much
more was all perfect. If I wanted to find anything wrong with the movie, it
might be the Julia Stiles' under-used (but I think necessary) character could
have been played by a lesser-known (i.e. cheaper) actress.
Based on the first book in the late Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne trilogy, 1980's
The Bourne Identity, it tells the story of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon.) He
is found floating in the sea by a group of fishermen, with a few bullets lodged
in his back. The fishermen bring him in and nurse him back to health. Bourne has
no memory of who he is or where he was, but for some reason he has all of these
abilities that just seem to come to him almost subconsciously (like reading and
speaking several languages, highly skilled fighting moves, heightened sense of
observation, etc.) Aside from the bullets, he also has this thing lodged in his
skin that when you press a button, it displays a bank code. When he gets to
land, he decides to investigate his life. He goes to the bank that the thing had
displayed, uses the number, and looks into the safety deposit box that is
brought to him. He discovers thousands of dollars, several passports with
different alias's, other cool spy stuff, and a gun. He takes everything but the
gun and decides to go to the address in Paris that he believes is his residence.
He keeps running into people who keep wanting to kill him, so he pays a woman
named Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente), a women who just seems to be drifting from
town to town, to drive him to Paris. Marie unfortunately gets caught up in
Bourne's exploits and ends up in danger too. Bourne and Marie must find out who
he is before whoever is trying to kill him is successful.
Judging by the initial reaction of my colleague Reggie McDaniel, I think the
people who haven't read The Bourne Identity would like it more than the
people who have. I am in the former camp. I think it is the same thing I
experienced when Spider-Man came out. I'm not a comic book geek and I
think I liked Spider-Man more than the comic book geeks did. I don't know
how much director Doug Liman strayed from the book, but where he went certainly
satisfied me. Besides, like Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears, the author
was the executive producer! (He worked on the movie before he died in March of
When I heard that Liman was directing The Bourne Identity, I was both
excited and curious. I loved Liman's past two flicks (Go, which I like to
call Pulp Fiction lite, and Swingers, which I consider the best
guy chick flick of all time.) I was curious to find out if a director who had
forged his career initially in comedies could pull of an action flick (okay,
Go had action, but I considered it mostly a comedy.) I've seen Liman's first
movie too, Getting In, which was also a comedy, though that one didn't
hook me as much as Swingers and Go. He has proven with The
Bourne Identity that he can pull off other genres. I just hope that my
favorite director, Kevin Smith, another director who has made a living doing
comedies, can pull off the same thing when he eventually tries directing another
Speaking of Kevin Smith, one of his buds, Matt Damon, is excellent in this
movie. He proves with this movie that he could be an action star. Also Franka
Potente is a standout too. The Bourne Identity is her third
English-language movie (behind the late Ted Demme's Blow and Todd
Solondz's Storytelling), but I think Identity will be her American
breakout hit (movie geeks already love her as the star of one of the coolest
German-language action movies ever, Run Lola Run.)
Reggie told me that a 1988 TV movie version of The Bourne Identity
starring Richard Chamberlain in the role of Jason Bourne was more faithful to
the book than Liman's version, but as a person who loves action movies and
hasn't read the book, I loved the Liman version. Packed with some of the most
impressive fight scenes in a non-martial arts movie that I have seen in a while,
this movie is an all around fun time at the movie theater. I may find kinks in
the armor as time goes by (especially if I ever read the book), but as it stands
now, I can't find a single problem with the movie!
Check out the original Robert Ludlum
Check out the original score composed by
Check out the TV miniseries starring Richard
Chamberlain that Reggie thought more closely resembled the book:
Buy these items at
SEE THIS MOVIE!
Catch this movie at the theater if you can...
Wait until it comes out on video...
Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...
Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!
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