The Bourne Identity
By Mike Derderian
After fourteen years of dormancy Robert Ludlum’s character Jason Bourne is back to the silver screen with one question on his mind: Who am I?
The 30 million-dollar human weapon suffering from amnesia, first introduced to worldwide audiences in a 1988 television film starring Richard Chamberlian, this time assumed the younger appearance and ice-cold persona of Matt Damon in the Bourne Identity.
Directed by Doug Liman, the 2002 production based on Ludlum’s best seller novel established Bourne’s general outlines, which clearly spells out: do not mess with this guy or else. Like most blockbuster films with sequels any director, or producer, tries to establish the story line and character in the first part in order to make it easier for the audience to follow up on the character’s development in latter parts.
Two years after its success, producers and Matt Damon decided to re-invest in Bourne again, in the sequel The Bourne Supremacy, which hit this year’s theatres; however, since we are talking about the first part we’ll leave it at that.
It is the story of a man in search for an identity with no clue to who he really is or how he ended up in the middle of the sea half dead with multiple bullet wounds. After being found by fishermen half dead, the ship’s cook decides to perform surgery on what he thought to be a dead body.
How on earth Bourne will find a lead that will direct him towards finding out the truth about his past? Well, thanks to the cook a laser pen with a Swiss bank account number is found planted in Bourne’s hip and this is when our protagonist decides to go ashore.
The film’s visual effects aren’t spectacular as one would expect from a glamorous title like The Bourne Identity, except for a few car chases, a mano-y-mano martial art fight scene, a small explosion and a lot of stakeouts this film definitely falls under the psycho-suspense genre with a little bit of spice.
Oscar award winner actor Mat Damon (Good Will Hunting-1997), who decided to wear the Bourne ice-cold expression of a clueless assassin, managed to transmit the feelings of indifference a person suffering from amnesia shouldn’t have. Now, if you were a person without the slightest clue of who you really are, in a foreign country with people following you all the time trying to kill you, would you be so bloody calm about it?
Trained or not trained, I wouldn’t be so calm, I mean haven’t you seen Harrison Ford’s Frantic. Now that was quite guide on “Ten Ways on How to Panic in Paris.”
In addition to Damon, actors like Chris Cooper, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles and Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje as Nykwana Wombosi, an African opposition member who is threatening to blow the led off all American CIA transactions, managed to add more color and spice in this non-stop slow action flick.
Mat Damon, who obviously had to get in shape in order to fulfill the physical description of Bourne’s physique, on the physical level gave quite a convincing performance, especially when it came down to martial arts. As for the psychological side of Bourne’s personality the audience was left clueless, a side probably left hidden on purpose for us to discover in the second Bourne movie.
Both Cooper and Cox gave convincing performances as Bourne’s supervisors, whom are ignorant to the fact that their man is suffering from Amnesia, therefore they recruit half of their skilled shadow operatives to liquidate the unsuspecting rouge agent.
And this where Clive Owen’s personification of a secret lethal agent comes in with a not-so-very-bright hunting sequence as he tries to kill Bourne after pinpointing his whereabouts with Marie and a family friend.
In the middle of the film, Bourne’s softer side or lets say more humane aspect resurfaces, especially when one of his flashbacks give us the detailed situation on how he nearly ended in the bottom of the sea. Franka Potente’s role as Marie Helena Kreutz, whose acting talents were notably appreciated after playing the lead role in the 1998 German thriller Run Lola Run, was a refreshing gasp of air amidst all the grim and gloomy ambience resulting from the film’s shooting location in a wintry Europe.
After luring her with ten thousand dollars to help him travel through Europe, the chemistry of love and attraction soon ignites; however, Liman decides to keep the love scenes off screen, an aspect we have to commend Mr. Director here for not going after the sexuality and nudity action in nowadays films.
The Bourne Identity is a low key cat and mouse action film, which will place you right into the gloomy atmosphere of Europe, reminding us of its being a “once upon a time” central location for conflicting secret intelligent agencies; however, this time it mixes with a one man’s pursuit of a past he will try to forget.