Many years ago, I read a couple of novels by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity being one of them. I never forgot about this excellent story. It was a good read, so when the film came out in 2002, I was excited to be seeing it. Especially as it starred Matt Damon, one of my favorite actors.
The Bourne Identity does not disappoint. I decided to watch it again on DVD, as I heard a new Bourne movie would be coming out July 29th. So as a treat to myself and to you my reader, I am going to be reviewing all four Bourne movies prior to the new release.
I enjoyed this first film as much as I did when it first came out. Technology no doubt has advanced a bit since then, but any outdated parts to the script don’t at all detract from the story.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) finds himself wounded aboard a fishing vessel off the coast of France. He has no memory of who he is. So begins his quest. As he finds the clues to what he’s been doing, he discovers hidden instinctual skills and talents. Jason is intelligent, rational, and physically skilled, with his body a trained weapon.
He encounters Marie (Franka Potente) in Switzerland and pays her to give him a ride to Paris. This is another thing that I liked about this film. The travel through Europe is shown to us as it is to Jason. Once in Paris, Jason finds not just himself, but Marie, has been placed in danger. After her initial shell shock, she becomes a willing accomplice in Jason’s quest to find himself and to end the hunt for him that unknown attackers seem bent on.
I won’t say anything more, as you should see this film or watch it again. It sets the stage for all the subsequent films. The Bourne films never skimp on action sequences, whether it’s hand-to-hand combat, car chases or simply drawing out the suspense.
There is one particularly quiet moment between Jason and Marie when they are at the Hotel de la Paix in Paris. Watch for it. Beautifully filmed, it is their own place of peace for a brief time in the frantic running from their pursuers.
The other thing that is not to be underrated is the deception of the government in how Bourne is set up. This is not a film that champions the CIA, quite the contrary. Government clandestine affairs are the bad guy. You figure this out very early on. Operatives include Conklin (Chris Cooper), Nicolette “Nicky” (Julia Stiles), with Clive Owen as an assassin.
The film is rated PG-13 for violence and some language. Matt Damon didn’t have long after his early Academy Award win for Good Will Hunting before he hit pay dirt in this franchise. Extremely capable and believable as Jason Bourne, he wins us over with his earnestness, and especially for the sensitivity he shows Marie.