Who is Jason Bourne? Well, you could just ask him, but then the real chestnut is that even Jason Bourne doesn't know who the hell Jason Bourne is. Which is a bit of a pain. Despite his amnesia, Bourne is on a mission to discover who he is, what he is and why the last thing he remembers is being fished out of the Mediterranean riddled with bullet holes. So just your average, everyday dilemma then…
Based on Robert Ludlum's original novel, The Bourne Identity lifts the basic storyline, characters and location of the novel but chooses to set aside all the elements which would slow the pace, leaving just pure entertainment. If you want continual deep insight into the nightmarish 'fogged' world of an amnesiac, read the book; but for the rest of us it’s most likely a thankful omission.
Matt Damon shocks just about everyone (especially his best mate Ben Affleck, whose Jack 'The Sum of All Fears' Ryan would get eaten for brekkie by Bourne) by becoming a surprisingly effective cool, cold arse-kicking machine. The very chill of Bourne is that he looks like a soft pretty boy (now why COULD they have thought of casting Damon?) but that his appearance juxtaposes so forcefully with what, or who, he actually is. He effortlessly captures both sides of the Bourne paradox, young yet world experienced, selfless one moment, ruthlessly effective the next.
In trying to figure out the secret of his identity Bourne heads to the US embassy, and this is where things start taking a turn for the worst for him. After a disastrous attempt to reconnect with his old life, Bourne meets up with Marie Kreutz, played by Franke Potente (Run Lola Run). He agrees to pay her $10,000 for her help and the pair of them set of in a race across Europe, with a number of CIA operatives sent to retrieve Bourne only ever a few steps behind. The supporting cast also includes Chris Cooper as a CIA official, Julia Stiles as a field operative, coordinating the effort to track Bourne down and Clive Owen as one of the assassins sent after him.
Liman handles the action sequences well including the superb Italian Job inspired car chase in a mini through the streets (and exceedingly narrow alleys) of Paris. Bourne’s encounters with the assassins sent after him are also well handled. Like The Sum of All Fears, the Bourne Identity manages to shake off some of the cold-war baggage that has encumbered many political thrillers in recent years providing a more up-to-date and more enjoyable experience. All in all, the Bourne Identity is a thoroughly entertaining film with Matt Damon doing an excellent job in one of his most surprising career choices to date.
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