The Bourne Identity
Based on the best selling novel by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity is a marked shift in careers of both Matt Damon and director Doug Liman. Limanís previous films include Swingers and Go, where as Matt Damon normally resides in the indie arena. This is their first real foray into action movies and action lead respectively.
The movie opens with a fishing boat out of Marseilles spotting a floating body in the Mediterranean Sea. The fisherman haul the body on board to discover that itís not quite dead, but it is in fact a man (Matt Damon) with bullet wounds in his back and a Swiss band account embedded in his hip. He has no recollection of who he is.
After recovering from his wounds he is dropped at Marseilles and proceeds to Switzerland. Once at the bank he withdraws the safety deposit box account that was embedded in his leg and discovers a lot of money (in different currencies), many passports and a gun. He also discovers that he is allegedly Jason Bourne who lives in Paris.
Unfortunately, he discovers that although he doesnít know who he is, other people obviously do and are looking for him. His only clue to is identity is the address of his apartment in Paris so he decides to head there. With the authorities looking for him, his methods of transport are extremely limited. As a result he manages to convince a gypsy called Marie (Franka Potente) to give him a lift to Paris for $10 000.
As things progress, Bourne discovers that he is actually a highly trained CIA assassin who blotched his last assignment and is therefore considered that heís gone rouge. With his memory still not complete, the CIA assigns a team of highly trained assassins after him.
Itís therefore a question of does Bourne want to continue discovering the man who he was or does that avenue opens more questions than it answers? That is assuming that he manages to stay alive long enough.
Doug Liman directs The Bourne Identity well even though his is unfamiliar with the genre. Itís a well-paced and tight action thriller, which shows an intelligent edge to it. Itís blissfully free of many action movie clichťs and even the script is crisp. It never bogs down with too much detail and yet still manages to feel like everything is covered. The ending is a little anticlimactic, but not as bad as so many other films nowadays.
Matt Damon does seem a little too clean to be playing a CIA assassin, especially as all the other CIA assassins are older and rougher than he is. This does result in him seeming out of place at times. However, having said that, he does manage to show that he had the ability to carry a film of this magnitude and heís not just going to be known as Ben Afflecksís little chum. Franka Potente, who plays Marie, is excellent showing surprising depth to her character. She is more famous for her portrayal of Lola in Run Lola Run. Brian Cox as the head of the CIA isnít in the film long enough and Chris Cooper, who plays the section chief leading the hunt for Bourne is okay. He does tend to come across as a little hammy at times though.
One of the highlights of the film is a car chase through the Paris streets in a Mini Cooper. This is very reminiscent of the car chases in Ronin and The Italian Job, but is executed very well.
The Bourne Identity is the first of a trilogy of novels, the others being The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Hopefully when these two novels are turned into films, the standard set by The Bourne Identity stays.
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