The Bourne Identity – 2002
Directed by Doug Liman
Written by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron
Based on the novel by Robert Ludlum
A mysterious man (Matt Damon) is found floating in the Mediterranean Sea with two bullets in his back. The Italian fisherman who discovers him and nurses him back to health also finds a small capsule implanted in his hip that has the number to a Swiss bank account on it. The man makes his way to Zurich where finds a safe deposit box full of cash in multiple currencies and several passports with his picture but all having different names, one of which is Jason Bourne. During his journey Bourne also discovers that he is an adept martial artist, but cannot remember how or why, doing all the actions as if by reflex. After leaving the bank, Bourne is besieged by police and military who are trying to either arrest him or kill him. He offers $20,000 to a woman named Marie (Franka Potente) for her to drive him to Paris, Bourne’s last known address. They drive off, with the CIA in hot pursuit.
This is really just a straight-up action movie, nothing more, nothing less. There were things I liked, and things I disliked, but nothing so amazing as to make it rise up above the flotsam of the rest of the summer movies. Is it worth eight bucks? Maybe, depending on your enjoyment of (semi-)intelligent action movies. But it’s definitely a cheap theatre pick or a rental.
This movie hinges on the idea of whether you can believe that Matt Damon can be an unrelenting ass-kicker. I was a little unsure of this going in, but he did win me over with his performance. Damon manages to get this cold look on his face, like he is not sure how he is doing something, but very sure that it needs to be done. It is as though you can see the training take over. I thought this really came out well in one scene where he stalks a sniper in an abandoned field.
Unfortunately, Franka Potente is just wasted. She really seems only to exist as a love interest and to look frightened when Damon starts beating on people. There is some really good sexual tension between the two, but I would have liked it more if they found more uses for her. The movie does fulfill my only two actual Franka Potente requirements, that she looks hot and says “scheisse!” a couple of times.
Doug Liman’s direction is very good. The movie never drags and the action scenes are full of energy even without guns being involved. He does a really good job of drawing out the tension in a scene in order to keep the audience into it. The scene where Franka kisses Damon for the first time is great, their faces dance around each other for such a long time that the audience is unsure whether he’s going to go in for it or not. Another great moment is right after the big car chase scene (again, pretty good, but certainly not up to the level of Ronin). Damon and Franka sit silently in the car, and Liman lets the camera linger on them as their faces register exhaustion and amazement at what they've just experienced. They're worn out and more than a little turned on.
Why is Julia Stiles in this movie? She plays a typical “guy in the van” type role (you know, away from the action and surrounded by computers). Julia Stiles is not a guy in the van!! She only has about five lines anyway, why even cast her in the first place?
The climactic action scene ends with a complete cop-out. Now imagine the cheesiest ending to a movie possible. Hey! You got it!
Again, a pretty good movie that you will most likely forget by September.
I have not read the novel this movie is based on, however my friend who I saw it with did, and he says the two are almost completely different.
Note: Apparently, some of the shaky camera work in the movie made chancel puke. Watching a noder throw-up adds a whole different type of entertainment that I neglected to take into account in my original review.