Based very loosely on Robert Ludlum's novel, the Bourne Identity is the story of a man whose wounded body is discovered by fishermen who nurse him back to health. He can remember nothing and begins to try to rebuild his memory based on clues such as the Swiss bank account, the number of which, is implanted in his hip. He soon realizes that he is being hunted and takes off with Marie on a search to find out who he is and why he is being hunted. Written by
I can sympathize with reviewers who had read the book and were disappointed by this film and the liberties it apparently took with the story. I've had that happen with books I've enjoyed and it can spoil a film you might otherwise have liked. I never read the book, so I was able to appreciate this film on its own merits - slick, tough, fast-paced and refreshingly devoid of the kind of nonsense that has made the Bond films harder and harder to sit through.
I'm especially impressed by the fights, which, as other reviewers have pointed out, are among the most believable martial-arts-based fight scenes ever seen. No big grand gestures or Olympian kicks - just fast, nasty moves designed to inflict maximum damage with minimum effort.
The cast is uniformly good - even Damon, who is no fave of mine, comes across believably as a man who's trained to hold it all in, but isn't sure what it all is that he's holding in. Cooper, Cox and Owen shine in their all-too-brief screen time. Potente is attractive in a real person sort of way (sigh of relief for this genre) and possesses an inner strength that makes her character's actions and reactions ring truer than what we'd get from the traditional Hollywood eye-candy girlfriend these films normally feature.
From the gritty bowels of the trawler, where Damon awakens to his situation, to the field where he confronts his most deadly assailant, the locations are the antithesis of the travel poster hotspots that Bond so frequently visits. Despite its breakneck pace (handled so well by Liman and so poorly in the sequel by his protégé), the film manages to convey a sense of melancholy that lifts it a bit above the average action thriller. Sorry book fans - it may not be your cup of Ludlum, but it's still a damn fine little action flick.
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