The Bourne Identity: An enjoyable, but standard, film

July 21, 2002, midnight | By Branden Buehler | 21 years, 4 months ago

Although most of the major parts of The Bourne Identity have been done before, it is still an enjoyable action film.

The Bourne Identity is based on the popular Robert Ludlum novel of the same name. The novel was written during the cold war, and the movie script was adapted to fit modern times. Although many movies that have done similar alterations have often ended up completely ruining the stories of the books on which they are based, the plot in The Bourne Identity has not suffered a similar fate.

The movie begins with an interesting premise: a fishing crew finds a bullet-riddled body floating off of the coast of France. Surprisingly, the man (Matt Damon) is still alive, but he cannot remember anything about his past. A capsule containing the location and number for a bank account in Zurich has been sewn into his neck, and with no other options for finding who he is, he heads for Switzerland.

At the bank, he finds an account that contains a gun, a large sum of money, and numerous identities for him, including one for the name Jason Bourne, which he adopts. He also discovers in Switzerland that he is an extremely wanted man, and in order to escape he must pay a woman desperate for cash (Franka Potente) to take him to Paris, where the Bourne identity indicates he lives. He must then try to figure out who he is, and why people are trying to kill him.

Despite the twist of amnesia, many elements of the movie are nothing new to the action film genre. Many of the key scenes, such as a car chase through Paris, and a battle between Bourne and a sniper, are well executed, but could have been seen in many other action films. This is not to say, however, they are not fun to watch. The car chase is intense and exhilarating, and similar sequences are just as exciting.

Another component of the movie with mixed results are the scenes meant to build tension, an important part of action movies. While some are well done, there are numerous scenes with buildup to absolutely nothing. When one of the French sailors is removing the bullets from Bourne's back, the music begins to become menacing, and the camera angles indicate something will happen, but nothing does. There are several occasions like this, when the camera angles and the music indicate a shift in mood, but nothing results.

One of the strongest points of the film is the acting, which is often a weak point in similar films in which the action is usually the only focus. In The Bourne Identity, however, Matt Damon does a good job playing a man lost and confused, and Potente is convincing as a frightened woman along for the ride. While the supporting cast isn't outwardly remarkable, there isn't a single instance of bad casting, which makes the movie much stronger.

Overall, The Bourne Identity is an entertaining movie that may involve several things you've seen before, but everything is executed well enough that you won't care. The car chases and gunfights may not stand out later, but they are fun while they last.

The Bourne Identity is rated PG-13 and is 118 minutes long. It was released under Universal Pictures, and it's official website is

Tags: print

Branden Buehler. Branden Buehler is a senior in the magnet program. When he is not doing schoolwork, work for Silver Chips Online, or swimming for the Blair swim team, he could possibly be found playing foosball or playing his guitar and recording songs in a futile attempt … More »

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