out of 4
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The Bourne Identity
Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4
In this screen adaptation of Robert Ludlum's amnesiac spy thriller,
Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, an American secret agent who has been found
floating unconscious in the Mediterranean Sea. He's alive but he's forgotten who
he is and what he does. The one thing he knows is that he has an impressive
array of passports and a load of cash stashed in Swiss bank - and that lots of
people want him dead, including the agency he works for. Problem is: he doesn't
know why. He needs to get to Paris, where he has reason to believe he has an
apartment, so he offers $10,000 to a broke-but-beautiful German woman, Franka
Potente ("Run Lola Run"), whom he meets outside the American Embassy in Zurich.
(Actually, it's Prague; we're not supposed to see the difference.) It's an offer
she can't refuse - and, predictably, they fall in love en route while dodging an
array of determined assassins who are keeping them under surveillance. Writers
Tony Gilroy and William Black Herron, along with director Doug Liman
("Swingers," "Go"), make Bourne's clandestine CIA supervisor into the
conventional villain, ruthlessly personified by Chris Cooper, along with his
amoral boss, Brian Cox. When Robert Ludlum wrote this suspense novel in 1980,
Europe was chilled by the Cold War and there was a mysterious, real-life
international terrorist named Carlos on the loose. Now it's all a mindless,
sinister chase with little cause or substance, even though bland Matt Damon does
his darnest to be convincing. All-in-all, though, Christopher Nolan's "Memento"
was a much better cinematic take on memory loss. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1
to 10, "The Bourne Identity" is a far-fetched, cliché-filled, action-packed 6.
But you need more than generic flash, dash and martial-arts moves to make a
memorable thriller. Or do you?
Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger
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