The Bourne Identity (2002)
Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Tony Gilroy (screenplay), W. Blake Herron (screenplay), and Robert Ludlum (novel)
Stars: Franka Potente, Matt Damon and Chris Cooper
There have been some blessings that have come with growing up with an older brother who loved Steven Segal and Bruce Willis films. One of those blessings was the nurtured love of action films. There is something incredibly satisfying about watching the good guy triumph over the evil, especially when the evil is the US government.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a man without memory of who he is or why he knows he knows how to do a myriad of things including speak multiple languages fluently and can take down fifty armoured guards without a second thought. He is searching for his past and dodging death as he seeks to live a future free of the command of those who once controlled him. Jason Bourne is a man not to be trifled with.
As with most action films there isn’t a lot of dialogue, but there sure is a lot of acting going on by Matt Damon and his lady accomplice played by Franka Potente. The relationship that spawned out of need turns into a relationship of shared experience. There is a wonderful crafting of this pairing that takes place throughout the film which makes it genuine and more meaningful than the sloppy creations in your B-list action films.
The story of Bourne and his adventures are based off Robert Ludlum’s popular novels but carry more of the characterisation than of the actual story in the novels. But I believe this is for the better as the complexity of the novels take away from the sharp immediacy of the films. The Bourne Identity is the first in a trilogy (soon to be added to by a fourth, The Bourne Legacy – out August 11th). The Bourne Identity begins the saga of Jason Bourne and it also is, in my opinion, the best of the films. You really ride along with Bourne as he discovers parts of who he is, where he has been, and who is after him. With the carefully sequenced and choreographed action scenes filmed mostly on handheld cameras it provides for a rocky ride but intensifies the scene and provides what would be quite a real perspective on the action. Damon’s performance is pensive and withdrawn but comes across powerfully as he expresses his character’s strength, confusion, love, and vengeful nature.
I am a little cautious about getting my expectations up for The Bourne Legacy because the Bourne Trilogy was so gritty and wonderful. It will be interesting to see where they take it and if they stick to the books that carried on after Ludlum’s death. I am very excited to see how Jeremy Renner goes in his lead role in this film (no he’s not a recasting of Jason Bourne, it’s a different character). Renner’s really becoming a new action man of film and it’s going to be interesting to see what aspects of Damon’s portrayal he picks up on and which he reinvents for himself.