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A body is picked out of the Mediterranean one wet night by the crew of an Italian fishing boat, near death. He clings on to life, but his brain has not clung on to his identity. He carries nothing except a couple of bullets in his back and a Swiss bank account number embedded in a chip in his hip. He realises that he possesses extraordinary talents in self-defence, weapons and languages. When he opens the safe deposit box in Zurich, he discovers a handful of forged passports, a bundle of cash, a weapon and his name: Jason Bourne. Or is it? After a dangerous incident in Zurich, he hooks up with German-born Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) a traveller down on her luck and short of cash. He offers her US$20,000 to drive him to Paris, to the only fixed address he has found that seemingly relates to his life. But things just get even more complicated, difficult and dangerous.

Review by Louise Keller:
I can’t remember when I have enjoyed an action thriller more. Everything works. Robert Ludlum’s intriguing story is translated into a superb screenplay, filled with intelligence and spellbinding tension. The action starts as John Powell’s lively, frenetic score gives our hearts a kick-start and we are literally thrown into the deep end, as a body is fished out of a stormy ocean. The plot and storyline is relentless, yet like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces take time to form any kind of sense. Filled with gripping moments and enough heat to make a kettle boil, The Bourne Identity is the best thriller this year. Matt Damon is superb as Jason Bourne, whose loss of memory becomes less disturbing than the revelations he discovers about himself. Damon is super fit and a credible protagonist, combining an appealing vulnerability with an chilling automated response action that brands him as a killing machine. In a case of wonderful casting, Franka Potente is perfect as Marie, whose reactions in the first instances of crisis mirrors our own – stunned disbelief and inability to function. Chris Cooper (October Sky, American Beauty) makes great impact here, as does Clive Owen in a small but beguiling role. I also like Julia Stiles’ Nicolette, who always retains a touch of mystery. Paris is portrayed as an integral character: from the identifying aerial day and night shots into the backstreets, on the distinctive Pont Neuf and in a spectacular car chase to rival that in Ronin, when a little red mini zips through the narrow streets, cobbled lanes and over sidewalks. Doug Liman has embraced the European sensibilities of the project, never compromising the credibility of the locations and the actors speaking in the relevant native tongues (with sub-titles) as applicable, brings gravitas. But all the locations are spectacular – Prague (doubling for Zurich) with its breathtaking wintry white vistas and the fabulous coast of Spain, where the crisp waves crash freely on its shores. The Bourne Identity delivers everything you ask for in a thriller – nail-biting suspense, awe-inspiring stunts, terrifying moments and a resolution as satisfying as the film itself.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Combining the most powerful elements of a spy thriller with the cinematic gold of characterisation, Doug Liman has delivered a thoroughly compelling film that satisfies our joint desires in the darkness of a cinema: safe danger and intimate connections with strangers through the medium of film. Cleverly adapted and re-invented from Robert Ludlum’s 60s setting (the Cold War is over, and for the sake of relevance, a new setting has been created), The Bourne Identity (the title has not been updated) crackles with suspense and rings with truth. A real Bourne again spy thriller for our times. There’s not a false moment in the film, as the superior cast gets down to boogey with old subjects in new frames. Matt Damon is gruff and tough and yet vulnerably likeable, while Franka Potente is perfect as the accidental heroine. But there is no gender inequality here, and she forms an integral part of the drama. Chris Cooper is every bit as good as you’d expect. Edgy and dynamic, the film’s mood is well underscored by the score, and an outstanding production design (with solid continuity) makes sure we are never distracted. A thoroughly entertaining film, with no messages (nothing you’d stub your toe on, anyway) but it’s not empty and worthless, either.

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CAST: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Julia Stiles

PRODUCER: Doug Liman, Patrick Crowley, Richard N. Gladstein

DIRECTOR: Doug Liman

SCRIPT: Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron (based on the novel by Robert Ludlum)


EDITOR: Sarr Klein

MUSIC: John Powell


RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 26, 2002


VIDEO RELEASE: March 12, 2003

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