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The Bourne Identity

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Bourne Identity

Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente
Director: Doug Liman
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 133 Minutes
Release Date: June 2002
Genres: Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Clive Owen, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Judy Parfitt, Julia Stiles

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

THE BOURNE IDENTITY, the first big budget Hollywood film by indie director Doug Liman (GO and SWINGERS), is a completely satisfying thriller that will keep your brain engaged and your adrenaline pumping.

Matt Damon is terrific as an amnesiac guy who doesn't know who he is or what he does for a living. After finding that he is a lean, mean, fighting machine and discovering that he has a suitcase full of fake ids, he realizes one of his names is Jason Bourne and that people are out to kill him.

Jason's CIA boss, Ted Conklin (Chris Cooper, OCTOBER SKY), thinks of Jason as "a malfunctioning $30,000,000 weapon." Ted gives his team strict orders, "I want Bourne in a body bag by sundown." All of the casting is superb. Cooper is a cold blooded bureaucrat who isn't used to sullying his own hands when he has people killed. Cooper is as easy to hate as Jason is to love, although notice that it is Jason doing almost all of the killing.

What really makes the plot sizzle is Jason's sidekick, a reluctant participant named Marie Kreutz, played with smartness and vulnerability by RUN LOLA RUN's Franka Potente. Poor Marie just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when Jason is on the lam and needs a car, fast. In no time, CIA headquarters thinks that they are an item and has them both on the top of the Most Wanted list. The chemistry between Damon and Potente is fascinating while being only slightly sexual.

Other fine pieces of acting are turned in by Clive Owen (CROUPIER) as one of the men attempting to assassinate Jason, by Brian Cox as Ted's amoral section chief and by Julia Stiles as the woman who cleans up messes in the field.

Liman's directorial skills are constantly in evidence. The movie has one of the best chase scenes in a long time. Driving a Morris Mini, Jason and Marie fly through rain soaked Parisian streets, sideways and alleyways, pursued by police cars and motorcycles. In another memorable sequence, Jason makes one of the most unusual escapes that I've ever seen.

Since there are other Bourne books in Robert Ludlum's spy series, I hope we can see more about this "black ops agent who's off the reservation." They may or may not have meant for this to be the first of a film series, but I certainly hope it turns into one. And, let's hope that American directors find more good parts for Potente. She's incredible.

THE BOURNE IDENTITY runs 1:50. It is rated PG-13 for "violence and some language" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 13, gave it *** 1/2. He raved about Damon's acting. He thought the casting was good, and the plot was really unique.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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