Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper
Director: Doug Liman
Running Time: 118 mins
The Bourne Identity is an American film about a man who is found unconscious in the sea, with two bullets in his back. When he awakes, he has completely forgotten his identity, leaving him to go on a mission around Europe to find out who he really was, and what role he played in a seemingly sinister movement.
I loved this film. It’s a rapid-fire, tense and always unpredictable thriller that keeps you totally intrigued in its mystery right to the end, making it one of the best modern thrillers of all. With top-quality performances from Matt Damon and Franka Potente in the lead roles, as well as some interesting and effective directing from Doug Liman, the film is always full of energy and life, making it all the more engaging to watch all along.
First off, the best thing that I can say about The Bourne Identity is that it has its own unique style. Whilst clearly inspired by Cold War thrillers, it’s effectively a crime/espionage film that doesn’t try to mimic James Bond, nor does it go for big action and explosions in a similar vein to the Mission: Impossible series. The Bourne Identity is a clear, simple and exciting film that centres most importantly on its plot, and that’s what makes it a truly fascinating watch.
Based on an ingenious and complex story by author Robert Ludlum, the plot is expertly adapted for the big screen. Never over-compensating on visual thrills, The Bourne Identity’s strongest and most enthralling moments come in the quieter scenes where our two leads are trying to uncover a seemingly impossible mystery.
Again, instead of going for a James Bond-ish flirtatious relationship between the leads, Matt Damon and Franka Potente’s characters work brilliantly together in solving this case. Both their performances are brilliant, and their chemistry really helps to make their respective characters’ role in the development of the story all the more convincing.
What I really liked about the film’s plot, however, was how it keeps you guessing right up to the last act. Never rushing into excessive detail or exposition, The Bourne Identity is expertly patient when it comes to giving away small morsels of information leading you towards the conclusion, something that guarantees total unpredictably and maximum intrigue throughout.
Finally, I want to talk about Doug Liman’s directing. Although the film looks (and sounds) like an early 2000s music video at times, Liman’s ability to give the film such a quick and relentless pace, despite its story being so patient with its development, was hugely impressive. If it weren’t for Liman’s expert work in making such effective storytelling, the film would have undoubtedly been missing out on consistent intrigue and thrills, so his directing must be praised.
Overall, I was very impressed with The Bourne Identity. Bravely establishing itself as a serious spy thriller away from 007 and Ethan Hunt, it’s truly intriguing from start to finish. Its lead performances and directing give the film life and vibrancy, whilst its ingenious plot keeps you guessing right up to the last, and that’s why it gets an 8.1 from me.