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The Bourne Identity
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Bourne Identity More at IMDbPro »

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259 out of 307 people found the following review useful:

Hooray for decent, more realistic spy films!

8/10
Author: Sleel
17 March 2003

I have grown extremely tired of the typical formula spy film like Bond, or the juvenile stunt exhibition "Triple X." There have been a bare handful of spy films that feature relatively realistic spy thrillers, especially recently with a concentration on spectacular movies that have less substance than cotton candy.

Besides "The Bourne Identity," "Ronin" is the only other recent spy movie I can think of that didn't feature skydiving, bungie jumping, skiing downhill while shooting innumerable bad guys, laser pens, cars with ejection seats, or silicone breasted women with names you'd be vaguely embarrassed to say in front of your mother. Most of the crap that passes for an espionage film has no plot or reason for existing other than to meet a quota of explosions and cleavage in order to draw the summer action film crowd.

While "Bourne" does not have a particularly deep plot, it is consistent and focused. The focus is entirely upon Bourne and how he is to deal with having no memory of his past, being hunted without knowing why. Some people have complained about being confused by the movie. I for one, do not need to have everything spelled out since in many cases this smacks of unreality in the first place; the essence of espionage is drawing conclusions from very sketchy information. If you can't handle a little of that, you probably should stick to Disney films or TV's Scooby Doo where everything is explained in the end. We never find out about what is in the case in "Ronin" and I can live without some information being filled in about Bourne's past.

To those who have moaned about the incompatibility of the book and the movie, seek help. There are probably several things that work in the book that would either be boring and take too much screen time to explain, or would be viewed as cliche to modern screen audiences. As I remember, I liked the book, and I definitely like this movie. I view any movie adaptation as an interpretation of the book rather than a translation from words to pictures anyway.

As for realism, most of the action scenes are believable, no super-gadgets are to be seen, no incredibly lovely models fall madly in bed with Bourne, and the hero shows definite signs of physical vulnerability despite a very high level of training and competance. As someone who has trained in martial arts for over 10 years, unrealistic fight scenes are a pet peeve. The fights in "Bourne" are fast, nasty, and very realistic while still being entertaining for the layman. (And yes, taking a gun away from some idiot who is standing well within your striking radius without getting shot is definitely doable, though I had serious doubts until we tested it for ourselves with plastic dart guns in the dojo several years ago).

While not being perfect, "The Bourne Identity" is, simply put, several grades above the typical spy film. Being focused on an individual level rather than involving itself huge political ramifications lends it another layer of respectability rather than detracting from it as some comments have implied since it remains a human problem on a comprehensible scale. The mysteries that are left are bigger mysteries for Bourne than us, and I think should be viewed as intentional omissions rather than loose ends. The implausibilities are kept to a minimum and the realism to as high a level as possible while still being spectacular enough to meet the expectations of the genre.

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164 out of 202 people found the following review useful:

What a Spy Movie Should Be Like These Days

9/10
Author: gbheron from Washington, DC
11 December 2002

James Bond and Ethan Hunt take notice. "The Bourne Identity" is my new standard for contemporary spy thrillers. Gone (or almost gone) are the special effects that James and Ethan rely on all too heavily. Hell, in those franchises the special effects have virtually replaced story and characters. "The Bourne Identity" has a very straightforward story to tell, a mystery that slowly unravels. Spycraft is not all about technical gizmos, but requires human brains and human brawn (and a fair amount of gunplay and car chases).

Set in various locales in Switzerland and France during the winter much of the visuals for "The Bourne Identity" are gray and damp. That's a plus, Monte Carlo and like locales can get boring. Mat Damon is great as Jason Bourne, fished from the Mediterranean mostly dead by gunshot wounds. A total amnesiac, he slowly realizes that he possesses the deadly skills of a well-trained assassin, and that someone is out to kill him. Franka Potente is equally good as the young woman swept up in his life and forced to run with him. Run or be killed.

I can't say enough good things about this movie. Doug Limon, thanks, you did a great job.

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151 out of 211 people found the following review useful:

Don't watch this movie if you think James Bond is someone who you can meet in real life.

8/10
Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
13 September 2004

Next to Ronin, this is one of the best action / spy movies that I've ever seen. I heard a lot of good critics, but didn't know what to think about it. I only saw it 2 years after it first appeared and I'm a little disappointed that I didn't go watch it in the cinema.

I'm not too keen on movies like James Bond and other stuff in this genre, but this one is a lot better. Normally you see the "super hero" using all kinds of weird gadgets, driving extremely fast sports cars and sleeping with ladies who look more like prostitutes than being normal women.

Jason Bourne however doesn't have all this things, which makes this movie a lot more realistic. The fights are fast and very realistic but still entertaining. The action scenes are believable, no super-gadgets, no incredibly willing women sharing his bed... Our hero even shows definite signs of physical vulnerability despite a very high level of training and competence. In the meanwhile he has to deal with amnesia, while being hunted without knowing why. In the end this is still a man which you can identify yourself with.

I would say: Go watch it when you are a fan of movies like Ronin, don't watch it if you think James Bond is a person who you can bump into on the streets when going out. Personally I would award this movie with an 8/10.

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213 out of 341 people found the following review useful:

Great movie, 1 very incorrect review

10/10
Author: Chris2004T from United States
17 December 2004

This is a great movie. Unfortunately one reviewer has no knowledge towards the field of psychology. One reviewer states it's a good movie based on a completely false occurrence, that being amnesia in general. They say it doesn't exist and nobody loses their memory of their identity while retaining knowledge of everything else. This is untrue. I am currently studying to become a psychologist, it's called Dissociative Amnesia. -Dissociative Amnesia - formerly Psychogenic Amnesia, is a pervasive loss of memory of significant personal information. This disorder is characterized by a blocking out of critical personal information. Dissociative amnesia, unlike other types of amnesia, does not result from other medical trauma, such as a blow to the head. The predominant disturbance is one or more episodes of inability to recall important personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature, that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness - Just to prove, it's true, and does happen. So this movie is not based on something made up, similar losses of memory do happen to people. Especially people in a job such as that. So, concluding, this is a great action film, I truly enjoyed this movie along with the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy. Both are I think going to be a couple of the best movies we will see this decade (2000-2010)

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81 out of 105 people found the following review useful:

First-class spy thriller but nothing to do with the books - 93%

9/10
Author: Benjamin Cox from Hampshire, England
10 March 2005

After years of being on the run, Jason Bourne has finally been caught... and added to my growing DVD collection. "The Bourne Identity" is a cracking espionage thriller with a surprising choice of lead actors. A gamble, as it turns out, that pays off in spades. This is easily one of the best all-out action films I've seen in recent years and even blatant discrepancies between film and book fail to sour your enjoyment, unless you're a serious Ludlum reader (which I am not but am thinking of rectifying this situation after watching this).

Baby-faced Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, picked up by sailors drifting out to sea. He has no memory of who or what he is, he has several bullets still in him and a curious gizmo in his hip which tells him of an accountant held in Zurich. Gradually, Jason begins to put the pieces back together again, especially when he discovers that unknown individuals are out to kill him for reasons beyond him. Luckily for Jason, he has an uncanny instinct for violence and escapism which will doubtless prove useful. Along for the ride is Marie (Franka Potente), a German civilian who quickly gets caught up in the fracas with the aid of a funky red Mini Cooper.

Sharp, snazzy and well paced, "The Bourne Identity" is a blast-a-minute spy film in the great traditions of James Bond. Exotic locations throughout Europe, a sexy female companion and OTT set-pieces - what more could you ask for? Thankfully, Bourne is much more of an intriguing character than 007 as his memory loss provides him (and us, of course) the perfect vehicle for clue-chasing and baddie-bashing. Amnesia is a tricky thing to sell to an audience for credibility but this is a rare exception. He has no snappy one-liners, no cheesy chat-up lines. He feels much more like an actual spy rather than Bond's increasingly frequent self-parody of such. Neither does the action feel too contrived as a gripping escape from the US embassy in Paris proves. The subsequent car-chase also is exciting and very well produced, though nothing to touch "Taxi" (the French original, anyway) for a car chase in Paris. Both Damon and Potente (who I've only seen in "Run, Lola, Run") are first-class, portraying the unwitting fugitives with tense brilliance. The soundtrack is also first-rate - pulsating and rarely intrusive, typical Moby but if you're a fan (as I am) then you'll lap it up.

There are some slight issues I have to question, though. The character of principal super-assassin The Professor (one-time Bond candidate Clive Owen) felt a little stereotypical to me and not enough is explained by the time the ending arrives, meaning I'll have to catch Bourne again in "The Bourne Supremacy". But the fact is that this feels like a modern spy film. It's tense, thrilling and engrossing as you continue to discover more about Bourne and what he does. It's more contemporary than Bond and it pisses all over "xXx". Despite initial belief that he was too nice to play a hard-ass spy, Damon proves me wrong and in the best possible way. "The Bourne Identity" comes highly recommended from this viewer, who is now off to buy some Ludlum books. And that is mighty praise indeed.

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63 out of 87 people found the following review useful:

One of the best spy films around

8/10
Author: Ricardo Camacho from United States
23 October 2005

This story has been done several times in the past, most recently in "A Long Kiss Goodnight". It's also true that Doug Liman and the producers created their own Jason Bourne mythology,since this movie is different in many ways to the book. But the truth is Liman takes an old story and puts a new fast paced spin on it.

Matt Damon stars as the enigmatic assassin who just wants to figure out who he is. As he travels from city to city he's followed by CIA agents who want to dispose of him to save their own jobs. He's helped along the way by Marie played by the brilliant Franka Potente. Together they come face to face with the people that want them dead.

The cast is great and so is the story. This film should be on everyone's top ten list.

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59 out of 87 people found the following review useful:

Realistic Spy Movie

8/10
Author: mjw2305 from England
27 December 2006

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a highly trained assassin, found left for dead at sea. He wakes to find he has no memory of who he is and he needs answers fast if he is to survive the attempts to erase his existence.

The Bourne Identity is excellently paced and brings a great deal of realism to the spy genre. The fight sequences are fast and believable, the car chases are accurately choreographed and the character of Jason Bourne is vulnerable and easy to identify with.

Matt Damon plays the role with apparent ease, he simply slips into the character and brings him to life. As spy thrillers go The Bourne identity one of the best around.

8/10

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71 out of 111 people found the following review useful:

An Excellent Non-Stop Action Movie

9/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
20 September 2003

The crew of a fishing vessel find a body floating in the middle of the ocean. They bring it on board and the improvised 'doctor' finds two bullets on the back and a Swiss bank account implanted in the hip of the body. The 'body' indeed is not dead but unconscious: he is Jason Bourne (Matt Dammon), a CIA secret and very well prepared agent with amnesia. During the period of fishing in the sea, he recovers his health. Once on shore, he decides to go to the Swiss bank and then to the American Consulate. There he meets Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente, from 'Run Lola Run' and 'Anatomy') and they two together will pass to the most spectacular actions along the film. The great Matt Dammon and Franka Potente are perfect. This movie is everything that 'Tripple X' and 'Die Another Day' intended to be and did not offer to the viewer: a non-stop and excellent action film. Fortunately this screenplay was not in the hands of Tom Cruise, otherwise he would like to perform the role of Jason Bourne and spoil this film, as usual. It is amazing the filmography of Matt Dammon. This great actor knows how to select good screenplays. I am not familiarized with the filmography of Franka Potente ( I believe most of them has not been released on VHS or DVD in Brazil), but in 'Run Lola Run' and 'Anatomy' I liked her performance very much. One thing that called my attention along this movie was her perfect accent in English (with the exception of the 'sh....' expressions in German). The great Chris Cooper and Julia Stiles perform secondary roles along this outstanding action movie. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "A Identidade Bourne" ("The Bourne Identity")

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28 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Excellent

9/10
Author: guinness1971 from United Kingdom
9 November 2005

I was pleasantly surprised with the Bourne Identity.Very rarely do I get to watch a movie that surpasses my expectations.First of all can I say that there are so many films out there that have the same regurgitated ideas and plot lines.Not many of which have any originality.

This however is one of the exceptions thankfully and pleasantly.Centred around a man who gets washed ashore and with no memory.( OK so this has been done before !!) but this movie was original.A selection box of mystery, action and great acting by all concerned.Haven't seen much of Mr Damion I have to admit but he was impressive.The photography ( can I use that term without sounding like a theatre studies student ?) was very good.In fact watching this movie was like watching one of those middle of the night foreign movies in a funny sort of way.However this was much more.

In a word this film was ORIGINAL.Well directed and well acted. Good to see a film that doesn't have to rely on spectacular special effects and painted backdrops.This film worked because it worked without any of that.( Now I am waffling)

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43 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

It's the little things that make this film work

8/10
Author: Agent10 from Tucson, AZ
14 June 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While the action genre is as believable and formulaic as an NSync song, The Bourne Identity takes a much needed step to the side to watch oncoming traffic. Subtle, yet still holding true to multiple action formulas (lots of fighting, cool weaponry, and chase scenes), this film presents a new era of action film making which could be all the wave. Matt Damon, who has the unfortunate nature of watching his less talented friend Ben Affleck gain notoriety for trash movies, is an excellent choice as the CIA operative turned amnesiac Jason Bourne.

His presence is both believable and realistic, like he is some guy who looks like a bookworm. While the film's cinematography was rather average, there are moments in the film which presents actual anxiety. The viewer knows something is coming, yet the genuine far exhibited by the characters makes those moments so interesting. I thought this would be some average action, but I walked away amazed. Franka Potente played the role of Marie perfectly, even though some prettier and less talented actress could have been placed in this film. Kudos to the producers for the casting choice. 7.4/10

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