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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Movie Review - The Bourne Identity

***Movie #1 of BOURNE Week***
The Bourne Identity (2002)
Starring Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Julia Stiles
Directed by Doug Liman

It had been a long time since my last viewing of any movie in the Bourne series, so much so that I couldn't quite remember how many of the films I had actually seen.  With the latest film hitting theaters in 2016, I figured I'd revisit the series to determine if my lackluster feeling towards the films (so far as I could remember) was warranted.  After rewatching the first flick, The Bourne Identity, "lackluster" may be too strong of a negative word, but I will say that the flick was a surprisingly low-key affair, lacking the pivotal action sequences we've come to except from films in this "spy-ish" genre.

Granted, I'm all for reinventing the wheel, but The Bourne Identity doesn't really do that either.  What is unique about it is that is gives us a main character who doesn't know anything about himself -- who he is, what he does, what he's done -- when he is found lifelessly floating in a European sea and picked up by a boat.  Shot multiple times, one of the crew members nurses him back to health, discovering an embedded laser chip that seems to reveal the location of a safety deposit box.  Giving the chip to the nameless man upon arrival at a port, upon locating the box in Zurich, the man discovers that this name is Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), but he still doesn't know anything about himself.  However, he continues to have horrific violent memories popping into his mind of him seemingly committing crimes and he is surprisingly adept at fighting, using weapons, and thinking quickly on his feet.  Add to that, upon removing his items from the safety deposit box, he finds himself on the run from operatives who seem to be chasing him down for some reason.  Hoping to elude them, Bourne convinces a German woman named Marie (Franka Potente) to drive him to Paris where he believes he will uncover the truth about who he really is.

The Bourne Identity is certainly a solid piece of cinema and a decent film in the spy genre.  However, in director Doug Liman's hands, the film feels a little bland.  It doesn't take any chances visually and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn't ever feel special because of it.  The minimalist action sequences all work, but I surprisingly walked away from the film wanting a little more oomph and drive from those particular cinematic moments.  The character of Jason Bourne himself is an interesting one, though, whose story could easily be followed for subsequent films particularly due to his pre-amnesiac involvement in the CIA (which is revealed very early in the film, so no spoilers there).  While I didn't particularly love The Bourne Identity, things were looking up as I headed into the second film in the series...but would the Paul Greengrass-directed sequel continue my "This isn't as bad as I remember" mindset?

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

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