“The Bourne Identity” does not have much in the way of plot or characters, but it is a better-than-average guns, gadgets, and chases in interesting locations movie.
The film starts off with a theme that is much more common in films than in real life: amnesia. A shipping vessel just happens to pick up an unconscious man (Matt Damon) out of the sea. The Italian crew also just happen to speak English and just happen to have a medic who removes bullets and a strange information capsule from the man’s back. When he awakes, he is angry, desperate, and doesn’t know who he is. He is dropped off in Europe and tries to work his way to finding his identity, only to be suddenly attacked by people from his past life. He successfully fights them off and pays a woman (“Run Lola Run’s” Franka Potente) to drive him to safety, but at every angle there’s another danger, and the film picks up as the plot unravels, with Damon eventually discovering his name (or one of his names) is be Jason Bourne and researching his past to find out why people are trying to kill him. It’s formulaic but stylish, clever, and fun.
Franka Potente is always fun to watch, and bad guy Chris Cooper (American Beauty) remains one of Hollywood’s finest character actors, but as credible an actor as Matt Damon is, he makes a rather unconvincing action hero. His boyish looks don’t help him when he’s beating people up or jumping off buildings, and his ability to stay clean and perfectly shaven after days without having any chance to wash himself is pretty questionable. One can’t help but think that Hugh Jackman or Pierce Brosnan would have flawlessly executed the role, and seeing the terrific Clive Owen shine in a small role only makes you see how perfect he’d be in the title role. But I guess they needed an American hero.
Parents should know that the movie has lots of cartoonish but sometimes graphic violence and some bad language in English and German. There is a mild and non-explicit sexual situation.
Families who see this movie should talk about how we can ensure accountability for covert operations and how Jason and Marie decided to trust each other.
People who enjoy this film will also like the 007 and Mission: Impossible series.