Classic Intel: The Bourne Identity - DVD Review

'Liman pioneers what has now become Bourne's trademark: kinetic action and brutal fights paired with truly interesting but eminently believable characters'

A perfectly-formed thriller, Doug Liman can consider himself very unlucky that The Bourne Identity turned out to be his only stab at adapting Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne series. Liman's success here is simple; he perfectly balances the need to slowly reveal Jason Bourne's true history with a need to introduce plenty of action and thrills early on. The fact that the film remains tense and the mystery largely covered-up having mentioned the word 'C.I.A' within the opening five minutes is testament to Liman's ability to craft a good story from a sound action footing.

Obvious comparisons with the James Bond series ring true but considering that this first Bourne film was released in the same year as the woeful Die Another Day, the film's couldn't look more different. Liman pioneers what has now become Bourne's trademark: kinetic action and brutal fights paired with truly interesting but eminently believable characters. Bourne himself is the anti-Bond. There's no pithy one-liners or seduction of the conveniently placed female-character. Instead, the secondment of Marie (Franka Potente) is purely out of logistical necessity rather than carnal desire and the character avoids the Bond archetype by not revealing a super-secret skill halfway through proceedings that leads to a case-breaking revelation.

The casting too proves perfect. Damon is excellent as the mysteriously skilled Bourne and Tony Gilroy and W. Blake Herron's script avoids potentially painful moments of exposition or introspective moments of reflection, instead sticking to machismo whilst Chris Cooper and Brian Cox hatch dastardly conspiracies in the background. Potente, sadly absent from anything none-Bourne in recent years, is both charming and naturalistic and the development of her character gives as much narrative joy as the development of Bourne himself.

As ever the little things elevate The Bourne Identity from merely good to great; Clive Owen's assassin, The Professsor, makes a memorable cameo ahead of a coda which doesn't feel misplaced and adds to the narrative rather than taking it past where it needed to end, whilst The Embassy scene is one of the most memorable pieces of action committed to film in recent times. Although Bourne resolutely became Paul Greengrass' franchise this first entry by Liman remains one of the best contemporary thrillers available and credit should be given to the latter director for giving Greengrass such a stable base to work from.

Look further...

'as 'influential' as this is, The Bourne Identity was influenced by more films that preceded it and, if we're honest, these films were better' - Screen Insight

No comments:

Post a Comment