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Movies: The Bourne Identity

Good Lord, when did I start liking Matt Damon?

Several people had told me that The Bourne Identity was enjoyable. Several other people told me it was so-so. No one said it was bad, which is good enough for me when it comes to action movies these days. So I saw it. My verdict? Not a great movie, but lots and lots of fun.

I liken it to last year's Ocean's 11. Neither film has a shred of originality, but both do a great job of stringing together a bunch of classic "action movie" scenes and making them look good. Bourne Identity could have been created using a "Make Your Own Action Movie" kit -- it's got the gun fights and the car chases and the shady government figures and the European locales and, yes, even amnesia -- but director Doug Liman does a remarkable job of assembling the thing and covering the finished product with a lovely coat of paint.

It certainly helps that Bourne Identity is one of the increasingly rare "thrillers" that's actually thrilling. Moments before the story begins, the main character is essentially killed (he survives by sheer luck) and he therefore seems refreshingly mortal through the entire film. Everything else about the movie seems equally as believable, and although the plot has its has its share of twists, I was never left thinking "Oh puh-leeze" (as I was in, say, Panic Room).

Franka Potente (of Run Lola Run does a good job of playing the hapless tourist caught up into the web of intrigue. Damon and Potente don't seem to have a whole lot of overt screen chemistry, but, here again, that seems more plausible than the idea of two strangers (albeit two attractive strangers) falling madly in love while running for their lives.

I actually enjoyed The Bourne Identity a smidge more than Minority Report (and not only because of Franka Potente, despite what my wife may tell you). Spielberg ultimately turned M.R. into a morality play, while the Bourne Identity is a straight-forward, amoral, roller-coaster ride. That's just the way I like 'em.

Posted on July 10, 2002 to Movies