In this series of articles, I’ll be posting reviews that have recently resurfaced. A number of the reviews I wrote in the past I thought had been lost to time, but after coming to a realization that they might still exist on the Wayback Machine, I was able to relocate many of them. I believe there are still some that are lost and they may be lost in perpetuity, but I will periodically search for that data or re-write those reviews that I have never found or which I never wrote to begin with.
For now, this series will be extensive with over 300 regular (400+ words), short (400- words), and quickie (1 to 2 paragraphs) reviews. I will attempt to combine them as best as I can. Reviews written in early 1998 or earlier, no date of creation exists. I will post the original writing date where known, otherwise the date will be listed as “unknown.” These reviews were written between the date of my site’s founding in 1996 through much of 2002. It was only after this period that I settled on the standard format and length of reviews as well as posting each one to its own individual page, which is why the old data was ultimately lost.
All but the review content has been replaced to match my current formatting guidelines, which are a bit more thorough than they might have been in those early days. Please note that I am attempting to retain as much of the original editing integrity as possible, so spelling and/or grammar errors may still be present. This may also mean that some factual data is not there as IMDb was not as ubiquitous as it is now. So, let’s get on to today’s review.
The Bourne Identity
Tony Gilroy, William Blake Herron (Novel: Robert Ludlum)
Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Gabriel Mann, Walton Goggins, Josh Hamilton, Juliea Stiles
A trained government hit man disappears off the coast of France. When he recovers, he discovers he has no idea who he is or where he’s from and begins a long journey of personal discovery.
“The Bourne Identity” stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a government operative sent to assassinate a powerful Zulu national. When he’s knocked overboard during a scuffle, he suffers a blunt trauma to his head that causes a harsh form of amnesia. Bourne is picked up by a fishing trawler and delivered to the south of France where he begins an arduous task of discovering who he really is.
When he’s spotted taking his own money from a bank, his superiors back in the United States decide he needs to be eliminated in fear he may reveal the plot. Now, he’s not only searching for his identity, he’s also running from death trying to figure out why he’s being hunted.
Along the way, he picks up a beautiful Frenchwoman named Marie (Franka Potente) who becomes his unwanted accomplice in his searching and fleeing. Together, they slowly unravel the mystery of who he is and why he has no memory.
Damon gives a far better performance than in films like “The Talented Mr. Ripley”. Here he’s matched and even surpassed in performance by the lovely Potente who plays her part superbly. Chris Cooper gives a malice-filled performance as Bourne’s mistrusting superior Conklin who will stop at nothing to kill Jason Bourne.
Based on the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum, “The Bourne Identity” is fun despite a story that is completely predictable. There are plenty of moments when you’ll see a scene coming from a mile away, yet still be impressed by its composition. Director Doug Liman does a terrific job keeping the film from drowning in its predictability. Each action scene is filled with intense situations and outstanding editing.
The setting also couldn’t be better. France is a world far removed from our own. The film feels like it may be set in the 1980s, but the streets of Paris and the outlying areas of France are as beautiful as ever. Sure, much of the grit and grime of that nation is present, but it helps preserve the realism of the situation.
From beginning to end, “The Bourne Identity” is a great experience. It leaves little to the imagination and forces every frame into its viewer’s soul, but it takes no liberties with the audience’s patience or suspension of disbelief. The movie feels more real than many other action films of its genre.
Audiences will enjoy “The Bourne Identity” for many different reasons. The intelligence of the plot certainly isn’t one of those reasons but, with its entertaining premise and skilled performances, getting enjoyment from the film is quite simple.
Too few people saw this film and too many Oscar voters will discount it for its predictability and similarity to other works in its genre. Oscar will not pay attention.
October 31, 2002