"Who has their bank account number in their hip?"
The Bourne Identity
Review by Ross Anthony

Unconscious, two bullets in the back, face up, floating in the Mediterranean Sea, Matt Damon wakes on a Italian fishing boat with a headache and an acute case of amnesia. Oddly, he heals out at sea thanks to the kindness of the fishermen, then hits the shore with a couple of bucks, a Swiss bank account number, and a burning curiosity to uncover his own identity.

But certain things come back in an instant, like lightening reflexes, martial arts training and the uncanny "spy-like" ability to suss out a situation for available exits and nearest firearms. His instincts come in handy, because whoever he is, he certainly attracts plenty of police and undercover professionals on the ready to nab or add more bullet holes to his skin.

Shot through a dark bluish filter with keen attention paid to accentuating sharp action with sharp audio, the film hits hard. Though the dialogue is good, it's used sparingly, leaving long gaps between words for action that needs concentration far more than verbiage.

Besides swinging betwixt skyscrapers, what makes "Spiderman" such a powerful film is Peter Parker's personal discovery into his new powers. The "Borne Identity" offers that same self-discovery, but under quite another context and tone. Taking strides toward moving the film off the beaten paths of other action films, "BI" seldom hits the worn-out beats. And even those very few sour instances are quickly lost to fresh cool action, solid acting, direction, a mostly smart script, crisp score and a powerful underlying driving force.

The same can be said for the "implausibles;" for instance, our vigilant and careful runaway never ditches the blaring red bag that he carries from nearly the beginning of the film. Nonetheless, the infrequent infractions are no match for that powerful driving force which ultimately leaves the film with a proud sense of respectability. No message, no theme, very little joking around, just an intense and focused espionage thriller that is extraordinarily hard-hitting and mature for a PG-13 film. Julia Stiles appears in a surprisingly small role and yes, co-starring with Damon is Potenete (Lola, from the German film "Run Lola Run"). Filmed on location in France, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Director Liman says, "Most of the spy films I've seen have had nothing in common with anyone I've ever known ... I've spent time in D.C. through my father's work on the Iran-Contra and I've seen real spies in action."

  • The Bourne Identity. Universal Copyright © 2002. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Gabriel Mann, Julia Stiles.
  • Directed by Doug Liman.
  • Screenplay by Tony Gilroy, William Black Herron.
  • Based on the Novel by Robert Ludlum.
  • Produced by Doug Liman, Patrick Crowley, Richard N. Gladstein.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:19:26 PDT