The Bourne Identity (2002) - Explosive Extended Edition
|Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Thriller|
|Universal || PG13 - 119 minutes - $14.98 || July 13, 2004|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-07-14|
Writer(s): Robert Ludlum (novel), Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles
Theatrical Release Date: June 14, 2002
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The Bourne Identity is one of my favorite movies to watch over and over (I've seen it several times since its release in 2002. My opinion about this film has not really changed over the years and its just as entertaining as when I saw it on the big screen.
The problem with many films today is the lack of originality. There have been countless James Bond rip-offs over the years but it's refreshing to get something that throws a twist into the grind in the spy thriller genre that Sean Connery made so popular back in 1960.
Matt Damon stars as Jason Bourne, a secret agent for the U.S. government who is found floating in the middle of the ocean by a fishing vessel. The twist here is Bourne has no idea who he is, where he is, how the hell he got two bullets in his back and why he can kick butt out of impulse. He gets some help from the fishermen and sets off of Switzerland to a Swiss bank where he finds a stash of passports, cash and guns in the safe deposit box (it is explained how he got there and how he knew which account, but I'll leave that a secret). After confirming (within himself) that he is Jason Bourne he escapes from the authorities going into the American embassy only to be chased down there. He gets even more help (lucky, ain't he?) from Marie Kreutz (Potente) to take him to Paris for $20,000.
Bourne's bosses are not happy, however. The case he was assigned to was a failure and now he has gone off the "reservation." Chris Cooper (American Beauty) plays Ted Conklin, who is under fire to clean up the mess before it becomes public and a Congressional investigation ensues.
Little by little Bourne pieces together who he is, and like Tom Ripley, does not like who he is. The agency that trained him have brought out their full power assigning several assassins to go after Bourne. What comes next are car chases, slide of hand stuff and overall the things a spy thriller usually has with the twist the plot provides.
Matt Damon proves that he is a better actor than Affleck in ALL genres of film. He obviously has talent in drama after a powerful performance in Good Will Hunting, showed his demented side in The Talented Mr. Ripley, and has done a couple of Kevin Smith films to cover comedy, now he has conquered the action / spy thriller. Ben Affleck's Sum of All Fears came out and while Affleck wasn't bad, he wasn't that good either. Here, Damon leaves no doubt in my mind; he can do action flicks and even hold his own in a franchise.
Along with a good outing for Damon, this also reminds us of some actors we tend to forget. Chris Cooper, Julia Stiles and Franka Potente all contribute to the film. I first saw Potente in the German cult hit Run Lola Run. She gained some notice in Hollywood with that picture and she doesn't disappoint here. Her Marie Kreatz and Damon's Jason Bourne both have a mysterious quality about them, thereby translating to good chemistry that is vital and often fails in many films.
Doug Liman was the surprise choice to helm the spy thriller. The indie director had previously done Swingers about a group of friends learning the scene of a hip lounge and then 1999's Go that follows different storylines that intersect each other. This time around Liman gets a budget almost 10 times the amount of his three other films combined (his debut was Getting In). He makes the transition into the Hollywood scene without much trouble (on the screen, at least). He did learn about whose in charge in a multi-million dollar film and it wasn't him. But the troubles aside, he delivers a taut thriller that hopefully will branch out two more outings.
To be honest, I had never heard of The Bourne Identity as a novel. When I did the research on the novel and the author Robert Ludlum I found that the main character of Jason Bourne was actually older (same kind of thing happened in The Sum of All Fears) and was portrayed by an unknown actor in a 1988 TV movie. Currently Bourne is set up to be a trilogy with the next being called The Bourne Supremacy (July 23rd, 2004) and the third, The Bourne Ultimatum. I hope the film does well enough to get these sequels green lighted because you don't find that many well-written, well-directed and well-acted spy thrillers today.
My only complaint about the film is the casting of Julia Stiles. Don't get me wrong, her performance was fine but she seems out of place in this world of espionage. The role would've been in better hand with an older actress like Famke Janssen.
Overall, the film is a smart, tight and well-paced spy thriller. The Bourne Identity has it's share of clichés, like a car crashing through a plate of new glass, but they work within the plot. It has plenty of action, a car chase that rivals Ronin and The French Connection and a leading actor in Damon that shows the ability to be able to carry a film of this magnitude. And one refreshing aspect of the movie is there are no signs of terrorists. It's not because I am sensitive of the terror plot in movie after 9/11, but because there has been so much since then (and in the last two weeks) that I wanted a break.
I'm tempted to call this so-called "Explosive Edition" a rip-off, but there were actually a couple of features that were interesting, although fairly short.
First, I will get the features that were on the original release: Four deleted scenes, a Moby music video, and the other flimsy features such as production notes and the like. I was very disappointed with the deleted scenes because I remember some of the trailers that had scenes not including in either the final release nor the deleted scenes section. One would think they could at least add a few more in there...
Now, on to the main features: Each of these featurettes could've (and should've) been attached to the original release -- with the exception of one -- especially "The Bourne Mastermind", a featurette that has archive footage of Bourne author Robert Ludlum as well as interviews with Ludlum's friends. I thought it was an interesting brief look into Ludlum's career dating back to when he was an actor.
Two other decent featurettes were "Access Granted: An Interview with Screenwriter Tony Gilroy" and "Cloak and Dagger: Covert Ops", with the former interviewing Gilroy about the difficulties of adapting a 550+ page novel while the "Cloak" interviews a former CIA officer who basically says that much of the story could be accurate. Again, nothing great here, but decent enough.
But, the feature Universal has been touting is the new beginning and alternate ending. Apparently the producers, who were concerned with how this film would be perceived in a post-9/11 world, filmed bookends where it opens with Jason Bourne looking for Marie in Greece and suddenly passing out (from a drink) -- after which, the film goes on as usual with Bourne's body floating in the ocean. The ending shows Bourne waking up to find Ward Abbott (Cox) in his room and that they have had the area under surviellance. Unfortunately, the ending actually uses -- in the second half -- the alternate ending found on the original disc. For shame.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The sound and picture are both great in this edition (as they were in the last one). However, on a side note, I could not play this disc on my regular DVD player. AS far as I could tell, there was nothing wrong with my DVD player since it would play my original
Was this release necessary? Come on, I don't really need to answer that... More and more studios are double-dipping their DVDs and while some may vary from being cool to stupid to even worthwhile, it is becoming a bigger trend now that it seems people are willing to pay (I own two copies of Terminator 2). In this case, Universal released a version that was not needed but they did this before (same kind of marketing, in fact). Remember months ago when they released The Fast and the Furious - Tricked Out Edition? Give me a break!