Weekend Review – “The Bourne Identity”

I was expecting something with stronger genre elements when I watched this to review, but I don’t have time to prepare a substitute, so this review is coming up anyway.

Cast and Crew Information

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
Franka Potente as Marie
Chris Cooper as Conklin
Clive Owen as The Professor
Brian Cox as Ward Abbott
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Wombosi
Gabriel Mann as Zorn
Julia Stiles as Nicolette

Screenplay by Tony Gilroy and W. Blake Herron, based on the Robert Ludlum novel.
Directed by Doug Liman

Availability Information

Available on DVD and HD DVD.

Premise

Jason Bourne awakens on a fishing boat, with bullets in his back and an LED (which reveals a Swiss Bank Account) buried in his hip. His quest to rediscover himself soon reveals that he has an unusual combination of skills and enemies.

High Point

Bourne’s preternatural calm every time he uses the aforementioned skills, offset by his loss of calm when dealing with his memory loss.

Low Point

The failure of Conklin to take advantage of a golden opportunity.

It also irks me that they cast Franka Potente, but didn’t give her a really good running scene.

The Review

As an adaptation, it can’t get a perfect score for originality. (Having never read the novel, I can’t say how faithful the adaptation is.) It’s a spy thriller, much like James Bond, but with a major twist in the main character. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were generally well done, though some of the blue screening was painfully obvious. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story holds together well enough, for the most part. (The Low Point is really my only complaint.) I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting was well done by all. This had the budget to get numerous names as well known as Damon or better, but they cast by ability instead, which makes a big difference in the finished product. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production was well done, reserving the recent “very rapid cutting” techniques to specific moments for specific effects. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was hampered in my case by knowing that this character returns in sequels (which I also haven’t seen yet, but can review if there’s interest.) I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s definitely one of the better action flicks. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, The Bourne Identity receives 33 out of 42.

5 replies on “Weekend Review – “The Bourne Identity””

  1. Damien says:

    Trilogy
    Please review the entire trilogy. I liked them, better than most action flick series in fact.

  2. Jethro says:

    Except
    I enjoyed the Bourne movies (and I’m going to read the books) but I just did NOT buy Matt Damon in that role for a second.

  3. MrWindows says:

    Not Faithful at all!
    I enjoyed all three movies, and I do hope they do another as they have hinted at, can’t get enough of Bourne or Die Hard for that matter. However…
    The movies bear little resemblence to the books as I have recently found out. Other than a few of the main characters and an occassional plot element, the stories diverge greatly. I picked up all five books, the three original Robert Ludlum volumes and the two newer ones by another author, off of ebay and am reading them in sequence because of my renewed interest in the movies.
    In some respects I understand some of the liberties taken, as the books have a central theme concerning Carlos the Jackal, who was pretty much out of the picture when the movies began, but there is so much that has changed with Marie and Bourne’s history as to render the books nearly unrecognizable from the movies. Little really remains other than the titles.
    Still, good books, although not generally my genre, and great movies, each one better than the last.

  4. hossman says:

    books vs movies
    the Bourne Identity was one of those rare things in my life … a movie i heard a lot about well in advance of it’s release, based on a book i had not read before, but had time to read before the movie came out.

    Like many adaptations, the movie differed drastically from the book (changing Marie from a sophisticated international banker to a drifter-hottie was the first sign of trouble) … but somewhat unique is that the entire foundation of the novel was the exact opposite of the book — a completely 180, to the point that it seemed the screenwriter had only read the first 7/8ths of the book before he was pressed by a deadline and had to crank out the screenplay without finding out "the big secret" of the main character.

    I was very disappointed by the movie as an adaptation — it was a good movie, and i’m use to adaptations disappointing me a little by leaving stuff out that i really liked, but to completely change the basic premise bugged the hell out of me, it ruined any chance of someone else ever being able to adapt the "real" Bourne Identity.

    That said .. I found myself liking the sequels immensely, because at that point the series was no longer about Jason Bourne, it was about this dude played by Matt Damon who is pretty bad ass.

    • hossman says:

      Re: books vs movies

      … but somewhat unique is that the entire foundation of the novel was the exact opposite of the book — a completely 180, to the point that it seemed the screenwriter had only read the first 7/8ths of the book before he was pressed by a deadline and had to crank out the screenplay without finding out "the big secret" of the main character.

      This thread prompted me to go look the movies up on IMDB and peruse some of the data to refresh my memory, so i just found this…
      http://imdb.com/title/tt0258463/trivia

      At Doug Liman’s instruction, screenwriter Tony Gilroy did not read the "Bourne Identity" novel; instead, he worked solely from an outline prepared by Liman.

      …so there you go. Fuck you very much Doug Liman.

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