The Bourne Identity (Doug Liman, 2002)

How could I forget about you? You’re the only person I know.”

Introduction

I’ve decided that my reviews, opinions, analysis, etc of a film is only ever appropriate for people who have seen the film. Spoiler-free on the podcasts, everything else is going to be spoilt on the blog. Chances are most people have seen this, so lets get stuck straight in.

Right. Lets do this. These Bourne movies have been haunting me for a while. Seriously, I have watched this at least three times and every time it never gives me a purpose to watch the second one (alas, inevitably I did – but we’ll cover that in the future…). Why? I don’t know. I think all the Paris stuff bothered me and the whole deconstruction of the Bond-like character – though interesting – wasn’t the most neccessary thing in the world. I feel like the whole concept of James Bond is unrealistic so why do we have to make it realistic? The shitty mini – can it really do all those stunts? No. So the films not realistic. But wait, Bourne and girl discuss how frustrated he is at not knowing who he is. Wow – deep.

I haven’t read the Robert Ludlum its based upon – maybe thats a problem – and again, Ludlum openly said how it was inspired by James Bond. Again, why watch ‘realistic’ James Bond when you still have James Bond? Fact is, this film, in turn, inspired the incredible reboot of James Bond with Casino Royale so maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it isn’t as bad as I am saying. Maybe, deep down, I am well aware of how much Graham, the Bangor Represetative, loves the film whilst I am ultimately denying it any credibility purely on that basis. Same reason Muse are rubbish.

Opinion/Analysis

So, Jason Bourne wakes up. In the sea. We know nothing and, just like him, we begin to realise what is going on. Its not long until we are clued into Chris Coopers character who believes Bourne is after him and his “Treadstone” team – when in fact Bourne is just defending himself against all the killers Cooper is sending to kill him – one of which is none other that considered-at-the-time-to-be-a-potential-007 Clive Owen. Obviously, akin to Jon Voight and the NSA in Enemy of the State, “Treadstone” is government run – and has every resource at its whim to get Bourne. And like Will Smith in Enemy of the State, again, Bourne has no idea why they are after him – but unlike Smith – he also has no memory of what happened when he woke up in the sea.

After this set-up, it changes direction as the love-interest – akin to Bourne himself – is, by chance, found on the street. Turns out, she is greedy and will take Bourne to Paris. If I was her, I would think that if I was to be offered that amount of money for a car ride … something is up. Will he kill me upon arrival? Why not? Take the trip and then leg-it. Or, maybe the guy has already killed someone or robbed a bank or … some illegal activity, and he is expecting me to help him? help an armed felon? Personally, I’d leg it. But turns out, straight off Run Lola Run, love-interest Marie (Potente), is greedy and takes the money and – along the journey falls for Bourne. As he does for her. But then again, in his memory, this is the first love interest he has ever had so of course he’ll take it. Think of your first crush – you never forget it.

Upon this third viewing I’ll admit, its got good points. The soundtrack is interesting with great music from Moby – ‘Extreme Ways’ becoming a staple of the franchise – whilst the Paul Oakenfold track ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ simply reminds me of Collateral – a far superior film. John Powell was the man behind these choices so well done to him. This range of dance and, as itunes says, “electronica” works exceptionally well but then again, Powell is also the man behidn the music choices in Shrek and – believe me, I’m not a fan – but I can vividly recall plonkers singing to that bloody Eels track from the film. So judging songs to mix into a certain type of film is clearly a talent, and he – by choosing ‘Extreme Ways’ knows how to choose memorable music that is firmly attached to a film. Then again, I watched Collateral after The Bourne Identity and Paul Oakenfolds ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ reminds me more of Tom Cruise, with a gun, in a club rather than a mini. In Paris.

So, to finish. The film is, pretty much, completely set in Paris, giving it a very Europeon flavour. Again, I only recently heard that the James Bond films that have often bombed were set in America. Except Live and Let Die. Then again. That film is racist so … peak and troughs. Nevertheless, this only adds to the fact that, by being set in Paris, the exotic location reeks more of Bond again rather than a cultured-tone which I assume it was going for. The film ends as the “treadstone” project is terminated in Washington D.C. We watched a film that was ultimately pointless – ‘Conklin’, aka Chris Cooper, was stupid while everyone else was just following orders from him. The fact that Bourne was merely defends himelf I don’t think stands – he can do loads of things, he just can’t remember anything. I mean, come on! thats a specific memory. Think Mementohe had a serious problem. Bourne should count his lucky stars in terms of memory-loss.

Fact is, there are a lot of good things – and more importantly – these things set-up a great parrallel and support for Supremacy. Its not as ‘incredible’ as people say – but I appreciate the different angle on a genre already owned by Bond and Bauer and delivering this successfully. But as ‘influential’ as this is, The Bourne Identity was influenced by more films that preceded it and, if we’re honest, these films were better.

And Matt Damon’s “I-don’t-know-who-I-am” acting grates after a while. Luckily, by The Bourne Supremacy he knows enough about himself to keep me interested.

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12 comments

  1. my lord this review is so, so flawed!!

    Collateral? didnt that come out AFTER this?! Bauer?! he doesnt 'own' any franchise, especially at the time of this films release, and still now in all fairness! There's Hunt, Bourne and Bond. Casino Royale RIPPED from this movie, M:I-3 certainly took inspiration, can we all take a step back to when this film was released, understand why it was so original and ground-breaking at the time. and how it still stands as a wonderful film to this day! the only point being made here is that – now, in the year 2010 – people may not appreciate it as the world did on release day.

    simon, simon, simon *cries to self*

  2. I wrote this already and it deleted itself … motherf… and again …

    1. I say in the review Collateral came after Bourne, but the song has more resonance from Collateral. Thats allowed.

    2. Bauer 'owns' TV-series action. Who else does exactly?

    3. I acknowledged the debt Casino Royale owes Bourne, but Bourne should acknowledge the many Bond films that preceded it and inspired not only the movie but the books too!

    4. I watched it three times – potentially before you sir – and at no point 'in context' or 'out of context' did it get me.

    'Nuff said. Its an alright movie, but hardly the 'original' and 'ground-breaking'film you speak of Bangor.

  3. now now,

    1. “whilst the Paul Oakenfold track 'Ready, Steady, Go!' simply reminds me of Collateral – a far superior film.”
    there is no respect given to which one came first or 'found' the track if you will. cant say collateral done anything new with the track, just used it in the same way.

    2. Bauer doesnt own any action. he's just shit. when people think 'action' they think bourne, bond and hunt. end of. no tv-reference necessary.

    3. i was highlighting that both main action franchises owed to bourne MASSIVELY. not in some sweep-under-the-carpet way. that is undeniable. why is that? surely that matters more than 'what you reckon' (oooh, i went there.)

    4. kind of related to response 3.

    mate, it completely was ground-breaking at the time. you cannot deny this.

    and who is 'bangor'???…… 😛

  4. 1. ” Then again, I watched Collateral after The Bourne Identity and Paul Oakenfolds 'Ready, Steady, Go!' reminds me more of Tom Cruise, with a gun, in a club rather than a mini. In Paris.”

    Its simply a better use of music in Collateral thats all. Thats allowed to be said whether it came before or afterwards. I saw Bourne the first time before Collateral but I only realised it was the same track the second time I watched Bourne. Just not as memorable.

    2. Action-TV = Bauer, Action-Film = Bond, Hunt and Bourne = weaker prototypes… which leads me too…

    3. Every film nowadays is in debt to another that preceded it. Bourne MASSIVELY owed to Bond – its just Bond Deconstructed: “What if, Bond was Bond, but didn't know he was Bond and had to find out about himself…”, BOOM, greenlit production.

    4. It does matter how it affected the future of the action genre – and I quote myself – “I appreciate the different angle on a genre” but nobody cares anymore.

    John McClane could kick Bournes ass too.

    And tell me – this is the Bangor rep I speak to, is it not?

  5. 1. I would put money on the fact that its use in Bourne is a direct source of its use in collateral. You are undermining the reality here.
    2. ” a genre already owned by Bond and Bauer” simply not true. bauer does not 'own' any genre in the publics eye. with bond or without. end.
    3. absolute tosh. Bourne is simply nothing like Bond pre-Royale, except the fact that its a spy/action movie. Your love for bond is clearly overpowering your reviewing stance, how can i relate to such a concocted opinion.
    4. you are undermining it far beyond any reasoning.

    you are undermining a lot of important – crucial – aspects to the Bourne Identity's importance as a movie. It is an important movie and there is (near to) no recognition. I want good reasons for such a harsh, unexpected, unjustified trashing. Where are your reasons? I see big opinions, little reasons and i cannot understand the review because of this!

  6. Right. My whole opinion comes completely from the perspective that (a) deconstruting a character to make him or her 'real' in a film rooted in the fantastical (stunts, explosions, blah blah in action movies) though interesting – and thats good – seems counter-productive and (b) why can't I be content with the other action heroes especially because I prefer them in every way.

    Graham, there was a time that you loved Tomorrow Never Dies and watched it many, many times … and then you double-backed on it because your fellow viewer disliked it! Fine – maybe Die Another Day didn't influence Bourne but, believe me, The Bourne Identity is inspired by Bond: Government agent, skilled at EVERYTHING, important female character who is – generally inadvertently involved – car chases, exotic locations and – in some cases (Licence to Kill) – a 'rogue' agent.

    Bond was inspired by other films too … North by Northwest (From Russia with Love), Star Wars (Moonraker), The Bourne Identiy (Casino Royale), but to claim that The Bourne Identity (more than Supremacy and Ultimatum) is some unique god-like film is a bit much. Its good. Its above average but its the weakest of the three (i prefer supremacy personally and yet-to-be-seen ultimatum was in Sight and Sounds Top films of the last decade!) so, The Bourne Identity on its own, isn't perfect. not to mention my final point: Matt Damon is not great in this and is better when he 'knows' who he is.

  7. Firstly, since when did i double-back on TND?? I still think thats immense!
    I have not denied that Bourne has taken from Bond, i agree that it must have for being in the same genre which bond does almost monopolise (see traits you mentioned- traits of genre, not just bond. though bond may have popularised them.)
    I have also not claimed that TBIdentity is 'god-like' or 'perfect', i am simply defending it from you trashing it. And you did trash it.

  8. dude bourne is inspired from bond. you could say bourne is bond with character development. or a stylised version of bond. when the original bond tries to be like bourne, it displays insecurity. bond is a superspy. bourne is or was rather an assassin. bond's part of the system, bourne is chased by it.

    before bourne, bond was falling into self parody with invisible cars and what not and actual parodies – case and point austin powers.

    after bourne identity and supremacy – came casino royale.

    after ultimatum came quantum of solace.
    and QOS tried to be so much like ultimatum it wasn't even funny- the rooftop chase, remembering the dead girlfriend. the quickly edited fight scenes.

    the bourne girl unlike the bond girl is not just someone to have sex with, but a real woman who objects killing and whatever.

    so bourne although sharing similarities and being inspired by the original bond, is a whole different character. IT BUGS ME AS HELL when post casino royale bond tries to mimic bourne, in character and traits, going renegade and whatever. The studio has a lot to do with it, because they found a formula for success and entertainment.

    I feel bond should just be himself and somehow still be relevant to the present not the 60's. Its weird in the books bourne 's sole purpose is to replace the original assassin carlos the jackal, by doing what carlos did but better. In the movies substitute carlos with bond. bourne is like an alternate universe version of bond. so when bond tries to copy alternate universe bond, well things get monotonous. where is the separate individual identity?

    Also ready steady go in collateral is a different version; the korean remix of the original used in bourne identity. I like both versions, but when i hear the original it reminds me of tbi. the remix – of collateral. – check youtube. the korean version has way more quitar riffs etc. its a good remix

    also the original

    gotta love the bourne pic on the video huh?

  9. I think that, as far as Bourne–influencing-Bond,it is more THE BOURNE SUPREMACY rather than THE BOURNE IDENTITY. I still stand by my difficulty in watching the film – because, when I watched the second one, I was hooked.

    I can see the differences between the two – Bond and Bourne – but, I think Bond has always been influneced by the films that surrounded it rather than the other way – take LICENCE TO KILL compared to DIE HARD – one-man-against the world. Bond going rogue is nothing new – again, LICENCE TO KILL, DIE ANOTHER DAY to name a few that were pre-Bourne, but it is a shame that Daniel Craig, in two Bond films, has 'gone rogue' for brief periods within the films.

    QUANTUM OF SOLACE, interestingly, had the same second unit directors as THE BOURNE SUPREMACY/ULTIMATUM …but alas, Marc Forster couldn't handle it…

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