Play It Again – The Bourne Identity

The Bourne Identity

By Jess Lomas
May 28, 2014

Play It Again is a weekly feature in which our classic-film connoisseurs revisit a revered motion picture from the annals of movie history, to see if it holds up… or if it has aged terribly. And yes, it takes its name from a famously misquoted Casablanca line. Hey, whatever. It fits! This month, they look back on some blockbusters. ’tis the season!

Whether you consider it a smart thriller or a paint-by-numbers spy caper, The Bourne Identity is a dynamic interpretation of Robert Ludlum’s bestselling novel. Directed by Doug Liman, the intent behind the action is obvious but the result appears business-like and orderly. Thankfully he has Matt Damon to distract you, who once again proves to be a compelling lead worthy of an audience’s investment.

We meet Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) floating in the middle of the ocean, two bullet wounds in his back, before being pulled onboard a fishing boat. Of course at this time he doesn’t know he’s Jason Bourne, amnesia robbing him of his identity, location, and any memory of who he was. A capsule is removed from his body containing the number of a safety deposit box in Zurich, which will reveal his true self. In addition to this he finds a host of false passports, a stack of cash and a handgun.

The Bourne Identity

We soon discover Bourne was tasked with a covert operation for the CIA and has failed a mission to assassinate Nigerian dictator Wombosi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Now Operation Treadstone, led by Alexander Conklin (Chris Cooper), is looking to remove him permanently from the roster. Bourne enlists the help of the gypsy-like Marie (Franka Potente) – by way of a $10,000 payment – to drive him to Paris, soon entangling her in the man-hunt.

The Bourne Identity is a cat-and-mouse game with impressive stunt work, choreographed fight scenes and tense car chases. There’s not much depth to Bourne’s struggle in learning his identity, and little time spent on the turmoil one would encounter when unearthing the violent nature of his past. The film doesn’t concern itself too much with meditating on these points, but rather relishes in being an action flick with a smart edge.

Essentially it is Damon and Potente’s presence on screen that keeps you watching. While Bourne is a rather emotionless protagonist, Damon injects enough charisma and the hint of who he could be to keep you interested. Equally, Potente delivers some much-needed naivety in this smooth, too cool for school escapade where everything is planned and accounted for.


The Bourne Identity is now available on Quickflix.

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