The Bourne Identity (2002)

Way back when I first saw the trailer to The Bourne Identity, I thought it looked pretty cool and since my mom was a big Robert Ludlum fan, found the original book version of it and read it, then was super stoked for the movie.  Then I saw it, and having read the source material, was deeply disappointed in the end result.  It took several years for me to come to terms with the fact that they were essentially two different stories that had only one thing in common: the origin of the character Jason Bourne (Matt Damon).  Once I had accepted that fact, well my enjoyment of The Bourne Identity increased and I later came to view the movies as a great Trilogy.  Oh, spoiler alert on that, I guess.

Directed by Doug Liman with a screenplay provided by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron, The Bourne Identity is a modern day spy thriller, minus all the technical gadgetry that the James Bond movies have popularized.  It’s a stripped down, hard-hitting and visceral “smart” action movie, one that puts more emphasis on the characters and story than the action scenes.  It’s not a bloated and moronic ’80s-style film, with massive explosions and bodies littering the street after every encounter with Hero Guy.  The action scenes instead focus on what should be the m.o. of every spy: quickly, quietly and efficiently taking down your opponent.  Other than a super intense, white-knuckled car chase scene, the entire movie operates on that premise.

I don’t want to say that Matt Damon was perfectly cast as Jason Bourne, because back in 2002, we probably all had doubts that Will Hunting would be able to be believable as a kickass action star.  Damon delivers in what – at the time – was his most physically-demanding performance to date, but also rating highly as an actual actor.  There aren’t any quippy-one-liners after he dispatches his aggressors, and you can thank Gilroy and Herron for writing a believable screenplay that could probably take place in our real world.  There’s some other decent performances throughout the movie, namely Franka Potente, but this is Damon’s film to carry and he does it admirably well.

It’s not a perfect film, as many of the details and government agency scenes are somewhat bland and technical for my liking.  However, if you grant the movie your patience and attention, you’ll be rewarded with a movie that helped shape the modern day action movie into something less stupid than it once was.

4 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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