By Vic Holtreman
Short version: A definitive action/spy movie with a cool lead character and a plot that won't insult your intelligence.
In preparation for the release of the upcoming film The Bourne Supremacy I decided to sit down and have another look at The Bourne Identity. I have to say that the second film in this series has a lot to live up to.
Bourne Identity opens with our unidentified protagonist afloat in the Mediterranean, presumably dead. He is picked up (unconscious) by a fishing boat where immediately it's apparant that he is not just a regular shmoe. The closest the boat has to a doctor pulls bullets out of our mystery man's back, as well as an implanted capsule containing what seems to be a bank account number saved in a rather ingenious way. Mystery man (Matt Damon) awakens briefly, groggy but immediately aggressively defensive, and it's divulged that he does not know who he is.
From there on we see that we'll be taken on a journey where we will know just as much as he does, and things will be made clear only as he discovers them himself. Shortly after arriving back on land (in Germany), clueless as where to turn, we get a peek at what is to come. Our hero is accosted from his sleep on a park bench in the middle of the night by two police officers, and before you can say "what happened?" he overpowers the two gentlemen.
The cool thing about that scene is that when he defends himself, he seems to go into autopilot, surprising even himself in the knowledge that he knows how to beat the hell out of two guys in as many seconds flat.
And so it goes from there, but never quite where I thought it would go. I was kept very interested in the film by wanting to figure out who and what he (ok, Jason Bourne) was and how he arrived at his current status.
Plenty of very cool fight scenes, edited such that although they are fast-paced, you can actually see what's happening. Of course there's also the required car chase, which was well done in that it was fairly realistic... for a movie car chase.
The look of the movie was very much 60's spy flick, but with a faster pace. There just seems to be something about shooting in Europe that makes films seem more timeless.
But if I had to point out just one thing that made this move enjoyable, it's envy: Here's this guy, wakes up half-dead with no clue who he is, but he manages to piece together who he is, where to go to find out more, and how to go about it... all the while having these kick-ass martial arts skills and spycraft abilities.
I really thought he was just the coolest character ever as I sat there on my couch with a blanket over me and a glass of milk on the coffee table.