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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.88%
Worth A Look40.52%
Average: 20.92%
Pretty Bad: 13.07%
Total Crap: 2.61%

7 reviews, 111 user ratings

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Bourne Identity, The (2002)
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by Stephen Groenewegen

4 stars

A passing fishing boat picks up a body, floating in the Mediterranean off the coast of Marseilles. The ship’s doctor extracts bullets from the man’s back and a chip from his hip which, when activated, displays the number of a Swiss bank account. The man is, miraculously, alive but has no recollection of his identity or what happened to him. In a vault at the Zürich Gemeinschaft Bank, he finds a gun, a small fortune and six passports, each featuring his face alongside a different name and nationality. One of them belongs to “Jason Bourne”.

The Bourne Identity is planted firmly in the world of international espionage, ruthless assassins, high finance and top-level agency intrigue (crosses and double-crosses galore). Robert Ludlum wrote the book, the first of three featuring Bourne, back in 1980, and the absence of mobile phone and computer technology in a hi-tech spy thriller dates it. Screenwriters Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron have modernised the story with Ludlum’s blessing (he served as executive producer on the film but died last year, before its completion). They’ve removed the original super-terrorist plot, but kept the basic idea - what happens when a highly trained assassinating machine malfunctions and turns human?

Director Doug Liman, following Swingers and Go, tries his hand at a new genre and gives The Bourne Identity the necessary pace and energy. But the film also occasionally feels perfunctory and impersonal. The inevitable love scene, for instance, isn’t organic to the story or the characters. Where is the sense of desperation of two people on the run for their lives and coupling for possibly their last time? He shot in wet and wintry-looking Paris and Prague (doubling for Switzerland and parts of France) with cinematographer Oliver Wood. The impressive stunts include a car chase through Paris led by Bourne in an Austin mini.

Matt Damon buffed up for the role and he has the bland, boy next-door looks necessary for a man who blends with the crowd for a living. He’s believable in the action scenes, but less convincing enacting a crisis of conscience (the filmmakers have added a silly moral twist to explain what brought on his amnesia). Franka Potente, as the young German woman whose mini he “borrows”, makes for a fine travelling companion. Her reactions to Bourne and his predicament are never ridiculous, and she bails out when you’d expect her to. Her daffy delivery frequently gives the serious moments a welcome lift. Brian Cox and Clive Owen are memorable among the supporting cast, which also includes Chris Cooper and Julia Stiles.

The Bourne Identity gets silly towards the end, and the African political backdrop feels tacked on. But it incorporates some humorously sly digs at the spy genre and is never po-faced. For most of its length, it runs as smoothly and efficiently as its protagonist.

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originally posted: 08/10/02 18:09:50
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell great start to the franchise 5 stars
6/08/14 The king The film that started it all 5 stars
8/26/13 DB It's OK. The classic James Bond movies are way better. 3 stars
9/03/12 Courtney A quintessential action movie. Worth a watch. 4 stars
2/07/11 Pamela White Great spy drama with thought out action scenes, a hit 5 stars
10/30/09 MP Bartley In danger of being unfairly overshadowed by the admittedly superior sequels. 4 stars
10/28/08 blah blah fucking great fuck off the rest of you losers 5 stars
7/24/08 Shaun Wallner This ones ok. 3 stars
7/06/08 James Liman and Damon deliver a tense action thriller 4 stars
7/04/08 greasy steve this film was embarassingly bad. the emperor's new clothes 1 stars
1/26/08 Pamela White suspense, suspense and action great 5 stars
1/03/08 Heywood Jablowme Top-shelf thriller....even though his gf looks like a dude... 5 stars
12/13/07 davidbobo20 Best action movie since 007. 5 stars
10/12/07 Charles I wish someone in the production had read more than the dust jacket... still entertaining. 3 stars
6/28/07 gr117 Incredible! 5 stars
11/04/06 becky entertaining, but not worth buying 3 stars
5/26/06 William Goss Highly enjoyable spy thriller, if only for that car chase. 4 stars
11/21/05 Quigley one of my favorite films. matt damon was awesome, and the action and story were amazing 5 stars
11/08/05 Michael An Enjoyable Movie 4 stars
8/19/05 ES Exceptional movie followed by and even better sequel 4 stars
8/12/05 Kelly amazing action scenes and story even if it doesnt follow the book 5 stars
3/26/05 Denise good 3 stars
3/24/05 Charlie Better than the second one. Awesome car chase. 5 stars
3/18/05 B. D. Cole I'm not much of an action movie fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one 4 stars
3/15/05 cinkcool I can understand plot deviations from the book, after the first 20 mins this is not like it 3 stars
3/13/05 Tamara Burks I've read the book so I knew the basic plot but this was an excellent update 5 stars
3/04/05 Chris Stephens One of the best action movies I have seen 4 stars
2/26/05 James Kiang Excellent addition to the spy genre. 4 stars
2/23/05 julia great movie 5 stars
2/23/05 gracecchu Awesome movie, the sequel is also good. 5 stars
2/22/05 Debora Browning Good Movie liked it alot 4 stars
2/20/05 Charlene Javier Damon is hot! 4 stars
2/19/05 Diane Stahlman GOOD 4 stars
2/19/05 april gupton first one was better 2 stars
2/18/05 Eileen Lammers I expected more... so I was disappointed! 3 stars
2/18/05 Fahad Pinto great plot, good details 4 stars
2/18/05 dian anderson IF YOU HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO 3 stars
2/17/05 Dusty Johnson Great movie - my wife and I both liked it! Good story line from novel. 5 stars
2/17/05 Lisa Jochelson I enjoyed this movie, it kept me on the edge of my seat and frankly Matt Damone is hot. 5 stars
2/15/05 Joshua Lenti-Jones better than the recent bond flicks 5 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Fast moving sequel, worth watching! 4 stars
1/07/05 Edisana Odudu I wish Julia Stiles were bare in it rather than barely in it! 4 stars
12/27/04 The Mockingbird very efficient, does everything a spy movie can, and matt is endearing or hot or something 4 stars
12/05/04 Kristina Williams Matt as a secret agent works. he's plain, unlike this flick. 5 stars
12/01/04 R.W. Welch Best Secret Agent Man pic in a while tho it gets a bit flakey towards the end. Good perfs. 4 stars
11/03/04 Stevo Better than any other spy genre out there 4 stars
8/30/04 Archanist 101 Now this is even better than another "007: Die Another Day" 5 stars
8/27/04 Aaron Smith awesome intrigue; Franka key part of movie 5 stars
8/03/04 Blair everything a movie should be 5 stars
7/24/04 The music was loud, so I stayed awake. Lots of chaos. Very little meaning. Inept. . 2 stars
7/04/04 Daveman Not worth your time, unless you're obsessed with the mundane spy thriller genre. 2 stars
5/14/04 Agent Sands Lots of fun. Good action. 4 stars
5/07/04 Ross Recommend the book, but movie is just as good. 4 stars
4/07/04 Sig Very intertaining, cant wait for the sequeal, "Bourne Supremacy" in 2004 5 stars
2/10/04 Jun Abuyen ok but it's a short movie 4 stars
2/04/04 Charles Tatum Smart thriller, 007 writers should take notes 4 stars
12/20/03 Kent okay. Not bad 3 stars
12/16/03 HorrorScribbler Entertaining spy stuff. Good supporting cast. 4 stars
9/22/03 Rinse Really good, Franka=HOTTTTT 5 stars
9/03/03 Alex Damon has the screen presence of a indoor plant + the chick was fugly 2 stars
6/08/03 jlh I liked it. Not great, but well done. 4 stars
5/21/03 djacosta Nothing special 3 stars
5/17/03 R.W. Welch Somewhat familiar plot line but smartly done. 4 stars
5/11/03 Mystique cool action-scenes 4 stars
4/20/03 Dillon I really enjoyed it & I like everyone in the cast, esp. Clive & Franka 5 stars
4/17/03 Blubberbot basic hollywood action film 2 stars
4/16/03 Maegs Hey, I liked it. 4 stars
4/12/03 me good 4 stars
3/26/03 mitchell macari good 4 stars
3/13/03 Archmage Merlin Not enough action. Needs more pyrotechnics or something 2 stars
3/01/03 Monday Morning Wish he could have hit a few of those cheese-eating surrender monkeys during car chase. 2 stars
2/15/03 Chris Nothing new. Nothing bad either. 4 stars
2/15/03 Chris Nothing new. Nothing bad either. 4 stars
2/08/03 mr. Pink The best action film of 2002! An exciting and sometimes over-the-top movie! 4 stars
2/06/03 chuck could have been a better plot. 4 stars
2/06/03 123 This movie ain't special. With its predictable boring plot i can't see anything exciting 3 stars
1/29/03 Clice Owen se he was more interesting then Matt Damon. Action Good Plot Slow. 3 stars
1/28/03 Terry Gatton & Chris Cole We give it two king ding dongs up!!! 4 stars
1/08/03 George Nedelchev Surpisingly bad 1 stars
12/31/02 Tam Damon & action scenes are good, but the plot drags towards its anti-climax of an ending. 3 stars
10/30/02 spacecowboy oh come on, whoever reckons this is shit needs to have their head checked. 5 stars
10/05/02 Matthew Smith one of the most enjoyable action thrillers of the year, great car chase 5 stars
10/04/02 MovieJunky Mediocre, but I expected it to be worse. Franka is nice. 4 stars
10/03/02 Digi interesting story, boring everything else 3 stars
9/29/02 the spacecowboy thoroughly enjoyable. 5 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock Another American formula movie. Rubbish for the braindead. 1 stars
8/22/02 Jerry Predictable Ending, Puts the Crap in CRAP 1 stars
8/07/02 I Can't Swim Anything with Franka & Clive must be seen & must be fantastic..oh, Matt was okay I guess 5 stars
7/20/02 ??? matt damon did great 5 stars
7/16/02 Carl To say this film is of an outdated genre dressed in modern technology is an understatement. 2 stars
6/25/02 Mike Nothing like the book. Hopefully the Bourne Supremacy will have some semblance of a plot. 4 stars
6/24/02 Film Afficianado Stock action film, predictable from the time you figure out what is going on 1/3 into it. 3 stars
6/23/02 cleansparks not bad, a bit predictable, but kept my attention 4 stars
6/22/02 Joanne Good Matt eye candy! 5 stars
6/22/02 Obi Wan Not bad for a first Action vehicle Matt . . . 4 stars
6/21/02 Jonathan Only real complaint was that I thought the car chase was way too drawn out, awesome besides 4 stars
6/18/02 Nick2k damn this movie was good. chockful of suspense. yes, i noticed the daylight too. 5 stars
6/18/02 wintermute Did anyone notice the HUGE daylight/nighttime continuity error in the 2nd to last scene? 3 stars
6/17/02 brent young a great way to spend some cash & some time... it was fun. somewhere between 4 & 5 stars... 4 stars
6/17/02 Ben It's OK. 3 Days of the Condor and The Day of the Jackal are much better. 3 stars
6/17/02 "Yes the shit." Yes. Entertaining and fun. No horribly original but fun. 4 stars
6/16/02 Paul Taylor Definitely on the high end of "worth a look". A solid film. 4 stars
6/16/02 natasha smart, interesting, a little outside of the ordinary--well done 5 stars
6/16/02 strider3700 Actually pretty good. The car chase was well done 4 stars
6/15/02 Greyjack Good, fun, well-executed film. Enjoyed the hell out of it. 4 stars
6/15/02 john wonderful 5 stars
6/15/02 Gibbo Non-stop action - lots of fun!!! 5 stars
6/15/02 Phil M. Aficionado Production is a 5, great action; story a 2 and acting a 3+; it's fine but not memorable 3 stars
6/15/02 Human Shield I had a blast. Matt Damon should be in more action movies. 5 stars
6/15/02 gunter Some remakes should not be remade; see Memento instead 3 stars
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  14-Jun-2002 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Jul-2004


  26-Sep-2002 (M)

Directed by
  Doug Liman

Written by
  Tony Gilroy
  David Self
  W. Blake Herron

  Matt Damon
  Chris Cooper
  Brian Cox
  Clive Owen
  Judy Parfitt
  Franka Potente

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