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Review: The Bourne Identity (2002)

If I asked you to think about the genre of film involving espionage, you might think of James Bond right off the bat. It's understandable due to the fact that they've been making Bond movies since the sixties I believe and it's easily the most popular spy franchise in film. While that may be the case for most, I myself am a little different. Why I think of spy movies, I think of a movie like The Bourne Identity.

After waking up with bullet wounds in his back, a man (Matt Damon) with no memory sets out to discover who he is and where he's from. He eventually finds out that his name is Jason Bourne, but several questions still remain. Even more questions arise once he finds a gun, a bunch of money and multiple passports in a bank account that's in his name. Bourne is eventually pursued by several people who don't appear to have his best interest in mind and he comes to understand that he can't trust anyone. He now must fight for survival in order to answer the questions about himself and the deadly circumstances that surround him.

The Bourne Identity was a bit different for Matt Damon when it was shot. At the time, he was known for doing dramas more than anything else. This film of course, is a spy thriller that had all of the makings of a summer blockbuster. If he wasn't a big enough star yet, he was about to be as he began to cross into a well liked book franchise.

Obviously, he was careful about selecting his first real action movie in which he was the lead actor, because although this is a summer blockbuster type of film, it still maintains a lot of substance. There's a well told story with good acting, writing and directing from the people involved.

For anyone who knows the story of Jason Bourne, you know that much of the film is focused on his quest to find out who he is. While he's trying to figure this out, we also get a look at the clandestine network that employs him and what they're trying to do to fix all that is wrong with this situation. This is one of the primary things that bring about the dangerous predicament that we witness in The Bourne Identity. They don't know what happened either, but they don't necessarily want answers, they want results and a solution before it gets out of hand.

In the scenes where Bourne is trying to find out who he is and why so many people are after him, there's a good amount of action on display. The action that we see is given to the viewer in various ways. We're given a couple of chases sequences, some hand to hand combat and some shootouts to top it all off.

Out of all that I just mentioned, it's hard to say what the best aspect of the action is. I might go out on a limb and say the hand to hand combat is my favorite, but I'd practically be splitting hairs when it comes down to choosing. Regardless of what I liked the best, all of it is well done and includes an amazing car chase that runs through the streets of France.

To go along with the fast-paced and action packed set pieces, one of the other things that I liked about the movie comes from the realism that is implemented and the fact that they felt that it was important enough to include. The Bourne Identity uses some of the tactics and skills that are apparently used by operatives in real life. Being the spy geek that I am, it's surely something that I was happy to see. It's that attention to detail that helps turn this into quite the movie experience.

As much credit as I give them for paying attention to detail, I also feel the need to point out one minor flaw where that attention went missing. It doesn't really have anything to do with the film or its overall quality, but I think it's funny and I look for it whenever I watch it. There's one scene early on that shows Bourne disappearing into thin air at the exact same time that a small truck drives by him, but you can actually see Damon running along side the truck as it's going off-screen. Once again it's no big deal, but I just wanted to point it out.

Anyway, there's enough entertainment value in this suspenseful action thriller set in the world of espionage. I think fans of the Jason Bourne novels from the late Robert Ludlum will be satisfied, but I also believe people who aren't familiar with the books can also get into it and enjoy it. From a personal standpoint, it's one of my absolute favorite spy stories and is a fantastic movie overall. If you want to watch a quick, smooth and unglamorized movie about spies, The Bourne Identity is surely one to look at.

Score: 4/5

Rating: PG-13

Director: Doug Liman

Matt Damon
Franka Potente
Chris Cooper
Brian Cox
Julia Stiles
Clive Owen
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Gabriel Mann

Film Length: 118 minutes

Release Date: June 14, 2012

Distributor: Universal Pictures

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