Review: THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


RATING: 3.5/5

Expect the unexpected. THE BOURNE IDENTITY is a must-see to believe. Based on the Robert Ludlum's action-packed 1980 bestselling novel, the movie centers on an amnesiac who finds himself a deadly target from some highly-trained assassins.

It all begins sixty miles off the coast of Marseilles, where the floating body of a young man (Matt Damon) is rescued out of the stormy Mediterranean by the crew of a French fishing boat. Surprisingly enough, the boat's doctor (Orso Maria-Guerrini) finds out that the man is still alive, considering he's been shot twice in the back. When the man slowly regains his consciousness, he realizes he is suffering from total amnesia.

Fortunately he is left with the only clue that might leads to his true identity. He has a tiny laser device implanted in his hip of a Swiss bank account in Zurich. By the time the boat reaches the port, the man begins to recover his health in good form but not his memory. As the man reaches Zurich, he also realizes he has a few unexpected things about himself. He's fluent in several foreign languages; he can take out a number of men all at once with his bare hands; and he is such a quick-minded person that he can ease off from any deadly situations.

He begins his journey by going to the Swiss bank. There, he finds out that the content of the safe-deposit box reveals his name and address as well: Jason Bourne, Paris. Not only that, the box also contained his guns, several fake passports with each of them given different foreign names and wads of foreign currency that he begins to suspect himself he is not just any kind of ordinary person. So the heat is on -- after narrowly fleeing from a band of Swiss police around the U.S. embassy building. Bourne bribes a young German drifter named Marie (Franka Potente) to drive him to Paris. He gives her $10,000 as deposit and another $10,000 more if she accomplishes her job of driving him places he wanted to go. She agrees, since she's particularly very broke. Along the way, they start forming an unexpected good relationship and trust against each other, although Bourne has made her as a wanted fugitive while he himself figuring all the way he can to find out who and what has chasing him so badly.

Now to the big surprise: Who can have thought that an espionage thriller is helmed by a previously indie director Doug Liman who made such hip movies including GO and SWINGERS while the leading action hero is played unexpectedly by Matt Damon? It sounds like an obvious bad idea, but director Doug Liman and the screenwriting team of Tony Gilroy and William Black Herron surely know how to kick an espionage thriller genre well alive.

Instead of working the genre with the usual complicated plotting that dominated by the likes of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996) and recent James Bond movies including THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999), they have instead embrace the real impact of the movie's core storyline: deep inside Bourne's amnesiac mind, he thinks he must confront the truth about his true identity.

Apart from its fast-paced rhythm that makes this movie such a thrill ride, the director also accomplishes plenty of well-staged action sequences, particularly how the excitement are perfectly taking places at the right moment. The movie is blessed with great stunt work, including a highly entertaining car chase scene in downtown Paris and an ultimately convincing martial-arts bodywork from Matt Damon especially this is the first time he involves in such physically-demanding role.

The cast is top-notch, with Damon and Franka Potente provides a winning chemistry and aided by a couple of strongly supportive performances by Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox and Julia Stiles.

Although the movie is generally formulaic in every sense of the way, it's nevertheless a smart and savvy thrill ride that espionage genre fails to do so these days.

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