The Bourne Identity is heralded as some sort of radical re-invention of the spy movie, when in fact, its no such thing. What it is however, is a slick, highly entertaining, plot-twist filled thriller that is well above the cerebral level of yer average Hollywood bullet-filled blockbuster.
I mean, the whole crux of the movie is that Matt Damon wakes up with 2 bullet wounds in his back, no memory, and a trail of clues to discover who he is. That is, if someone else don’t get him first: wanted by the police across Europe, mysterious assassins and the CIA, supersmooth and unruffled pseudo-killing machine Matt Damon has to stay alive and survive when he doesn’t even know who he is, what he’s meant to be doing, or why people are trying to eradicate him. Just the average day in the live of a unsuspecting superspy then….
With a travelogue-esque approach to European locations that feels like a tourist guide to capital cities and beautiful scenery, director Doug Liman (Go, Swingers ) may not have been an obvious choice, but he brings to this an approach not often seen. All too often , in this post-Matrix enviroment, its too easy to rely on effects and flo-mo camerawork. Instead this focuses on action sequences that are oddly nostalgic of yesteryear but enthused with a fresh twist due to jerky, kinetic, handheld camerawork that often feels like you’re part of it, rather than watching it. Add to that a superbly effective Clive Owen as a creepy yet oddly pathetic hitman and Matt Damon ’s effective oddly vacant yet charismatic eponymous Bourne (as he discovers himself to be), who proves to be an unexpected action hero. There’s jolts, shocks, and a twisting turning plot that makes you wonder who is most dnagerous, why and how the hell he ended up in all this mess. If anything, because of these plot twists and the mid-european scenery, this often feels more like a cross between Ronin (and its got a carchase to match that movie too), the Peacemaker , and the recent Sum of All Fears. Then add in a heavy dosage of the original Mission:Impossible movie (the first one that is) and you’re almost there. (However, this does have the distinct advantage of not having Tom Cruise it in…)
Slick, effective, entertaining , exciting, with tense and involving action sequences (try the breakout from the US embassy for a nailbaiter) this feels like a multiplex picture designed by committee. But factor into that unconventional camerawork means that to say that is an understatement - it’s a cut above the majority of Hollywood pap. Of course, there’s a sequel in the works now, but are you surprised? Lets hope the second one is as good, because I’d rather see this than pap like a slew of Rush Hour movies anyday.
7Graham Reed's Score