After years of being on the run, Jason Bourne has finally been caught... and added to my growing DVD collection. "The Bourne Identity" is a cracking espionage thriller with a surprising choice of lead actors. A gamble, as it turns out, that pays off in spades. This is easily one of the best all-out action films I've seen in recent years and even blatant discrepancies between film and book fail to sour your enjoyment, unless you're a serious Ludlum reader (which I am not but am thinking of rectifying this situation after watching this).
Baby-faced Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, picked up by sailors drifting out to sea. He has no memory of who or what he is, he has several bullets still in him and a curious gizmo in his hip which tells him of an accountant held in Zurich. Gradually, Jason begins to put the pieces back together again, especially when he discovers that unknown individuals are out to kill him for reasons beyond him. Luckily for Jason, he has an uncanny instinct for violence and escapism which will doubtless prove useful. Along for the ride is Marie (Franka Potente), a German civilian who quickly gets caught up in the fracas with the aid of a funky red Mini Cooper.
Sharp, snazzy and well paced, "The Bourne Identity" is a blast-a-minute spy film in the great traditions of James Bond. Exotic locations throughout Europe, a sexy female companion and OTT set-pieces - what more could you ask for? Thankfully, Bourne is much more of an intriguing character than 007 as his memory loss provides him (and us, of course) the perfect vehicle for clue-chasing and baddie-bashing. Amnesia is a tricky thing to sell to an audience for credibility but this is a rare exception. He has no snappy one-liners, no cheesy chat-up lines. He feels much more like an actual spy rather than Bond's increasingly frequent self-parody of such. Neither does the action feel too contrived as a gripping escape from the US embassy in Paris proves. The subsequent car-chase also is exciting and very well produced, though nothing to touch "Taxi" (the French original, anyway) for a car chase in Paris. Both Damon and Potente (who I've only seen in "Run, Lola, Run") are first-class, portraying the unwitting fugitives with tense brilliance. The soundtrack is also first-rate - pulsating and rarely intrusive, typical Moby but if you're a fan (as I am) then you'll lap it up.
There are some slight issues I have to question, though. The character of principal super-assassin The Professor (one-time Bond candidate Clive Owen) felt a little stereotypical to me and not enough is explained by the time the ending arrives, meaning I'll have to catch Bourne again in "The Bourne Supremacy". But the fact is that this feels like a modern spy film. It's tense, thrilling and engrossing as you continue to discover more about Bourne and what he does. It's more contemporary than Bond and it pisses all over "xXx". Despite initial belief that he was too nice to play a hard-ass spy, Damon proves me wrong and in the best possible way. "The Bourne Identity" comes highly recommended from this viewer, who is now off to buy some Ludlum books. And that is mighty praise indeed.
The Bourne Identity
Action / Mystery
The Bourne Identity
Action / Mystery
Based very loosely on Robert Ludlum's novel, the Bourne Identity is the story of a man whose wounded body is discovered by fishermen who nurse him back to health. He can remember nothing and begins to try to rebuild his memory based on clues such as the Swiss bank account, the number of which, is implanted in his hip. He soon realizes that he is being hunted and takes off with Marie on a search to find out who he is and why he is being hunted.
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August 26, 2012 at 2:47 am