The Bourne Identity (2002)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Big turn for Matt Damon, stylized fighting

The ending of the movie is a little anticlimactic with all the build-up

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Bourne Identity

Studio:  The Kennedy/Marshall Company

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  June 14, 2002

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Worst backpack across Europe trip ever!

A man (Matt Damon) is pulled from the ocean by fishermen with no knowledge of his past but many inherent skills which he doesn’t know why he knows.  When he finds he has an unnatural ability to fight, he is able to track down a name…Jason Bourne.  Now Bourne is looking for clues to his past with the help of a German traveler named Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente), but Bourne too is being hunted.  Bourne needs answers, but his past could kill him if he doesn’t get them quickly.


Drive Lola Drive!

Directed by Doug Liman, The Bourne Identity is an action-adventure based on the 1980 spy novel by Robert Ludlum.  The film had previously been made into a mini-series in 1988 starring Richard Chamberlain as Jason Bourne.  The movie was released to positive reviews, a big box-office draw and started a new franchise.

I was unfamiliar with the Bourne character when The Bourne Identity was released.  I’m not a huge fan of political thrillers and I was getting a political thriller vibe from the trailers (aka Jack Ryan type stories).  I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong.


I wish my targets would just hold still!

The movie’s plot does have some aspects that are lacking and wanting a bit more though it is pretty tight (though barely resembling the novel).  I almost wish that the movie was played more for a mystery about Jason’s past, but the viewer basically knows what is occurring since you are seeing the Treadstone side with Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Clive Owen, and Julia Stiles so it becomes more of a race against time for Bourne to figure it out.  With the big reveal (to Bourne), the movie feels a bit anticlimactic when you are expecting a bigger fight or showdown.  It is tight in that it is a good set-up for future films but still holds its own as a standalone.


Yeah….we might have a slight problem…

The real surprise of the movie was Matt Damon who previously had only played more dramatic or romantic roles.  The casting of Damon was a shock (Brad Pitt and Matthew McConaughey were among those considered), but Damon pulled off the action.  The style of the film makes it appear very real and harder for stuntmen to be subbing for the characters.  Damon’s portrayal worked.

Damon is also backed-up by a great supporting cast.  I loved Franka Potente in Run Lola Run (which allegedly influenced Doug Liman) and it was good to see her in an American film here.  The Treadstone side always was strongly cast with Chris Cooper and Brian Cox pulling the strings.  Julia Stiles was making the jump to more adult roles in this film but plays a bigger role in the sequels.  Clive Owen also is good as the cool and collected assassin just known as “the Professor”.


Along with The Italian Job remake helped popularize Minis in the US

The action was also a real game changer.  In addition to having one of the best car chases through the streets of Paris, the movie is loaded with great choreographed fight kinetic scenes.  The style of the movie is more hard core, faster, and though it is quick edits is somehow not too difficult to understand.  The style used in the film almost became the norm for action movies and a big influence on the relaunch of James Bond with Daniel Craig.  Like it or hate it, it was new and different at the time…watching it now, it seems less intense than it did in 2002.

The Bourne Identity is a good film and one of the best in the Bourne series.  With more movies still planned, it is fun to revisit the first film and see how things have evolved.  The movie is an important action film in that it managed to pull off a classy action film with little humor which after years of Die Hard knock-offs was a nice change.  The Bourne Identity was followed by The Bourne Supremacy in 2004.

Related Links:

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Jason Bourne (2019)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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