Thoughts on: The Bourne Identity

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With the new Bourne film now out in the UK, I thought I’d give the original films another watch – excluding the Jeremy Renner spin-off, of course. First up: The Bourne Identity.

Narrative 

The first scene of the film involves a man lying motionless in the sea. Is he alive? What’s he doing there? Who is he? These are the questions that come to mind, and ultimately the questions that form the basis of the entire trilogy. It turns out it’s Bourne, and like the viewer, he wants answers. As soon as his feet touch ground, he’s on the run, trying to find out the answers he so desperately needs whilst simultaneously fending off waves of highly skilled assassins. Thrilling indeed.

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Not this guy…

Direction

One of the things I like about the Bourne trilogy is how real they feel. And this is the one that set the precedent. The cars are banged up duds, the characters are, for the most part, relatable… even the weather is typically shit. Kudos to director Doug Liman for doing such a good job of making a film that so easily could have gone down the dull, Hollywood route.

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… this guy

Performances

Now, I was too young to remember this, but people apprently went a little bit crazy when they found out that Matt Damon was going to be the main man. They just had a hard time seeing this young, baby-faced guy as a ruthless, white-knuckle assassin. How Identity proved them wrong: Damon pulls of Bourne’s character with fantastic nuance. Franka Potente is also superb as the roving Marie, and when both are in the same scene together – which, to be fair, is quite frequent – it only amplifies their individual on-screen brilliance.

In a few words…

A fantastically grounded spy thriller that offers a welcome alternative to the James Bonds and Mission Impossibles of the world.

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