Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Movie quotes:
Jason Bourne: Look. You drive, I pay, it's that simple.
Marie: Scheisse. I got enough trouble, okay?
Jason Bourne: Okay. Can I have my money back?
[Marie looks down at the wad of bills in her hand. Cut to Marie driving Jason in the car]

"How could I forget about you? You're the only person I know."
- Jason Bourne

"I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?"
- Jason Bourne

At a glance:
This rare character-driven thriller combines tense action, exotic locations, and a stellar cast, anchored perfectly by Matt Damon as the boyishly innocent-looking but still-deadly Jason Bourne

Our review (with spoilers):
A half-drowned man (Matt Damon) awakens on an Italian fishing vessel, rescued from the ocean, with two bullet holes in his back. He remembers nothing. Slowly, pieces come together; an implant leads him to a safe deposit box that contains cash, numerous passports with a variety of names, and a gun. When threatened, he is surprised to observe himself dispatching two or more armed men with ease. The puzzle takes time to unravel, but what is immediately clear is that many people want him dead. Through convenience, he teams with a troubled, free-spirited woman (Franka Potente) who initially provides transport out of a touchy situation.

This thriller provides plenty of action, but it is, more importantly, character-driven, with strong performances across the board. Matt Damon provides a perfect blend of surface innocence, intelligence, and boyish charm; he is as surprised as we are to find out he is a trained assassin with all the skills of a top secret agent. Franka Potente provides this thriller with an unusual luxury: a strong female lead. Chris Cooper is excellent as Bourne’s boss. Clive Owen is also particularly effective in a small role as an assassin known as The Professor. This nail-biter is laced with occasionally shockingly cold violence (made even more effective by Potente’s heartfelt reactions to it) and lavish European locations; there’s even  a two-second throwaway shot of assassin ‘Castel’ (Nicky Naude) vespa-ing through Rome with the Coliseum in the background. Rating: 3.5 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Efficient set pieces come neatly spaced every ten to 15 minutes -- just often enough to keep you credulous -- and the trans-European settings lend a classy backdrop."
- Time Out

"Liman can uncork leap-out-of-your-seat shocks, draw out suspense scenes with malicious finesse and even ease a touch of romance and droll humor into the yarn."
- Colin Covert (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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