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The Bourne Identity (2002)

  Directed by: Doug Liman
Written by: Robert Ludlum
Starring: Chris Cooper, Matt Damon, Franka Potente
Links: The Bourne Identity on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 7.33 (3 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 95th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

The Bourne Identity (2002) is also mentioned in pearly's review of The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and pearly's review of Under the Radar (2004).

"Go, go, go" - a review by pearly

The Bourne Identity is just the kind of story you'd expect from a Hollywood blockbuster. Picture it. A secret agent has an accident which gives him amnesia, and he must try to figure out who and what he is before being killed by any number of people. It's a common story really, I'll bet something like this happens every day in real life.

The Bourne Identity is, I guess, a thinking person's action flick. It's action, sure, but there's a bit more of a serious storyline than some other action films, and not enough of a storyline to preclude it from still being referred to as a flick.

Having been picked up floating unconscious by a fishing boat, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), as he will soon come to discover is his name (or is it?), struggles to remember who he is, and what he was doing before he lost his memory. Having no identification and no money, he takes to the streets, and soon discovers that he's able to defend himself well in any situation - kinda like it's some instinct in his muscle memory. He takes his Swiss bank account number, which he found on a laser thingy implanted in his hip, and starts to try and figure out what to do from there. Along the way, he meets the beautiful Marie (Franka Potente), and they travel together, avoiding obstacles as they go.

Damon comes off surprisingly well as an action star, mainly because he doesn't appear to be trying too hard to impress with his ripped body (let's face it, he's not exactly built like Arnold Schwarzenegger), but moreso with his other talents (let's face it, he's a better actor than Schwarzenegger). Ably backing him up is Potente, who was brilliant in her breakout role in Run Lola Run (1998), and while this is not my favourite of her films (I'll let you guess what is), she adds a certain something to this film that would not have been there had the role been cast with an American actor.

The Bourne Identity is an action-packed good time. It's not something I enjoyed enough to ever be interested in watching again, but for a bit of cheap entertainment whilst suffering from a cold and staying home for the day, it wasn't too bad. It was able to sustain my interest throughout, which is more than many films of its genre can manage.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 24 Aug 2004

"Baby I was born to run" - a review by oblie

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity was a favourite novel of mine as a pop-culture junkie adolescent, its car-chases, arm-breakings, gun-dismantlings, missing memories and the exposition of what really goes on behind the closed doors of clandestine intelligence networks hooked right into my hormone addled brain and knocked my imagination into top gear. So it was that I found myself reasonably excited with the prospect of seeing an expensive Hollywood rendering of the story of amnesiac Jason Bourne and the search for his identity across the grand old cities of western Europe.

Matt Damon plays a mysterious fellow who is plucked out of the Mediterranean by some Italian fishermen with two gunshots to the back and the number for a Swiss bank account surgically inserted under the skin of his hip. His memory has vanished but formidable skills in language and map-reading quickly resurface as he heals and makes his way to Zurich and the bank which contains his only lead to the identity he so desires to rediscover. After a pithy exposé of his face-pummeling techniques with two hapless patrolmen we recognise that he is a man of considerable means in the arts of survival and combat and that his enigmatic identity will no doubt turn out to be quite a violent one.

While Bourne slowly unravels the mystery of his amnesia and hazards his fair share of encounters with a formidable menagerie of would-be assassins, we are witness to the plot of CIA black-ops chief Conklin's (Chris Cooper) to stop our man from ever discovering the truth about the two bullet holes in his back and perhaps exposing the CIA - which seems already to be under siege with accusation and budget-stricture - for the insidious institution it is made out to be.

Doug Liman, whose previous directorial efforts include Swingers (1996) and Go (1999), leads us on a hairy trail through bank vaults, embassies and narrow Parisian streets at a pace without relent, managing with great aplomb to sustain suspensefulness throughout the film's two hours. The action flows naturally without becoming a staging piece for the narrative to unfold around and Liman has adopted a slightly more understated stylistic approach than he has done on previous occasions - a welcome change in an era of directors (particularly of action) all too eager to insert their mark. Matt Damon's efforts confer the perfect amount of incredulity, naïveté and unconscious self-confidence (if such an oxymoron is allowable) and he is paired brilliantly with the skittish Franka Potente (Run Lola Run (1998)) whose un-Hollywood flawed beauty lends credence to the notion that this girl "has been around a bit". The weakest part of the film is the (quite zany) African despot whom we realise Bourne's story revolves around but who seems to enter and depart the film quite incongruously.

The Bourne Identity harks back to a time not too long ago when fast, intelligent and well crafted thrillers were made without product placement and hundreds of millions of dollars in special effects, where they relied more upon the conventions of suspenseful story-telling and a presumption that the audience might just hold some cognitive ability. Here lies an example which can hold its head high among the stalwarts of that genre; John Frankenheimer would've enjoyed this one.

oblie gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 11 Oct 2002

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 2
Number of ratings: 3
Average rating: 7.33
Lowest rating: 7 (by pearly, em_fiction)
Highest rating: 8 (by oblie)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. Awesome

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Greg on Mon 29 Sep 2003 05:11 #

  2. ug

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from ug on Sat 11 Oct 2003 07:53 #

  3. Amazing

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from jules on Wed 26 Nov 2003 02:36 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (3 ratings)

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