The Bourne Identity (2002)

“You’re U.S. Government property. You’re a malfunctioning $30 million weapon.”

Clare’s Rating: This one sneaks up on ya.

Clare’s Review: First, a brief plot synopsis to get the ball rolling. The Bourne Identity is based on the like-titled novel by Robert Ludlum about a US government operative who wakes up one day in the middle of the ocean riddled with gunshot wounds and with no memory at all of who he is or how he got there. The rest of this sorted tale is basically about how he tries to piece together his fractured memory while simultaneously attempting to avoid being picked off by any number of people he doesn’t know who are trying to kill him.

Normally, I’d say that pulling off a movie with a set up that ripe with possibility without having the results be cliché, annoying, stupid and boring would be kind of hard to do. However, the director of this little gem is Mr. Doug Liman who is responsible for two other movies I think kick ass: Swingers and Go.

The other big thing this movie has going for it is Matt Damon. Usually action-adventure movies like this will cast lead actors who are strong on the physical presence department but who have no discernable acting ability (see: Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears, Daredevil, Reindeer Games, Changing Lanes and Armageddon — but I digress). Damon breathes life into this character and makes his struggles to both figure out what the hell is going on and to keep himself and his traveling companion (the always interesting Franka Potente) alive very accessible and by extension of that, very engrossing.

I went to see this movie in theaters when it came out. And I liked it well enough. Then, when it came out on video, I bought it on a whim since I remembered thinking it was pretty good when I saw it the first time. Since then, even though I haven’t outwardly (or even inwardly) decided that I REALLY love this movie, I’ve watched it all the way through any time I run into it on TV. Sometimes if I’m bored and I don’t have anything else to do, I’ll pop it in and watch it until I’m satisfied or I think of something else to do. So the facts in evidence would suggest that this movie and I really get along. It’s dependable entertainment. It’s gotten me through some hard times. But for some reason, when I think about action movies I get all goose pimply about, this one doesn’t really immediately come to mind.

So I’ll just make it official. I think The Bourne Identity is a really well-made, well-executed, well-acted and very entertaining action thriller. I’m really looking forward to the sequel even if they’ve changed directors for the second installment. (Apparently Doug Liman makes good movies, but not very efficiently and not without pissing off a lot of people in the process.) I think Matt Damon is great as Jason Bourne and I really hope he’s able to give this franchise legs for a while.

So if you’re not doing anything all that pressing and you’re in the mood for an engrossing action thriller, pick up The Bourne Identity. I can’t guaranty that you’ll want to name your first born (no pun intended) after it, but I’m reasonably confident you’ll find SOMETHING worth liking here.

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