The Movie
I was talking to some bloke in the queue for tickets about this movie. He was going to watch Sum of all Fears but was gutted that he wasnt seeing 'The Bourne Identity', I was of course and it suddenly struck me that this was about as excited as I'd been about watching a movie in many a year.

Having been suitably gripped by the book about this totally hard bloke with a worrying case of total amnesia, relatively harmless nature and whole host of psychological issues, the next two hours promised, from what I had been reading, to deliver in spades.

The first hour didn't disappoint with some stylish, busy photography reminiscent of 'The French Connection', good storytelling and what I personally thought to be some of the best presented hand to hand combat scenes since, well in a long while.

The second hour, for no apparent reason, takes a pendulum like swing from action/thriller, to thoughtful/spy thriller. Not that thoughtful spy thriller isn’t good but having cranked up my expectations, I was really looking forward to a seriously pacey finale. Unfortunately the movies climax fizzles like 2 week old lemonade, with a fairly standard hunted agent formula. What happened to the stunning plot twist from the book? it would certainly have beat the lame solution for Bourne’s predicament they came up with in the movie. Bah Humbug!

Ultimately I was left dusting popcorn from my shirt and trousers while watching the end credits feeling that somehow, given the sound material the characters and plot were based upon, another excellent chance had been passed by.

Where
Cinema
Starring
Matt Damon
Franka Potente
Chris Cooper
Clive Owen
Director
Doug Liman
ScreenWriter
Tony Gilroy
William Blake Heron
Details
119 Mins
Cert 12A (UIP)

The Characters
Matt Damon is considerably younger than Bourne in the books but pulls it off big time, his youth even adding to the characters outward vulnerability.

His chemistry with Franka (Marie) is perfect, if their meeting not as interesting as that presented literarily. Their scene in the hotel really glowed with the tentative desire of two misplaced souls, especially given that Bourne wouldnt have any concept of the happiness a bird brings to a mans life!

Marie is the perfect foil to Bourne, almost a mirror image of his wounded phyche but weighed down by the extra burden of being able to remember how she got there. The fact that Marie comes across as very independent, lonely and a little lost in life is testament to Franka's ability. It only seems right that she should be sitting outside when he jumps out the window.

Chris Cooper fulfills his role as Bourne’s CIA boss looking to put a lid on the unsuspecting agent. The script doesn’t offer him a lot of scope outside of the stereotype but what he has is done well, as can be said of the nasty big chief geezer (name escapes me) and Julia Stiles who spends the whole movie in a single room next to lots of gadgets, despite which she manages to look quite mean and the gadgets make no noise whatsever, unlike the ones I have in my house.

The hard bloke assassins were pretty cool, lined up in the movie to be as hard if not harder than Bourne’s character and sent out to terminate him. It is his interaction with these characters that makes for the most pleasing in the action department.

Story
Bloke gets dragged out of the water, can't remember who he is, has the account number of a swiss bank sewed into his hip, a gentle personality and the combat instincts of a panther. He is then chased across Europe by assassins and government organisations desperate to hide his secret ... if only he knew!

Production
I must also admit to being hugely disappointed with the straight from ‘A-Team’ goons. Thinking that the CIA boss would willingly put his life in their hands was a real stretch especially given Bournes previously demonstrated prowess in the fisticuffs department. It was always likely that they wouldn’t be around for long when the going got tough, suspense right out the window.

The car needs a mention of course, mainly because it has more screen time than most of the cast. The little beat up red mini has a character of its own and kind of represents the fragility of its owner.

I think you either like car chases or you don’t and in the main they don’t do anything for me, all except the one in Ronin which had me looking though my fingers and i kinda thought the imaginative chase in the ‘Dead Pool’ was cool.

The chase in this is very Italian job, with Bourne and Marie whizzing around Paris, up and down stairs and even adding a bit of smirksome humour. There are a lot of people that rave about this car chase but I am afraid it was just a mildly entertaining link between scenes for me.

I haven’t seen ‘Go’ or ‘Swingers’, previous directorial outings from Doug Liman, so had no expectations. The photography and pace of the movie had a very noir, European feel to it and was very pleasing on the eye. The action was well presented and the personality of the two core characters really shone through.

Gossip
Rumour has it that the assassin that hangs around the longest in the movie, Clive Owen, is to be the next James Bond.
I thought he looked quite soft in the movie, which appeared to be a theme for assassins in the movie (lets face it, Damon doesn't look hard) but I suppose if you squint he does look a little like Sean Connery did 35 years ago!

Overall
The script is the biggest villain in all this I think. While its understanding that attempting to fit a 400 page book into a two hour movie is not going to be easy, I have just sat through to many that are just completely wrong. This isnt completely wrong, it just could have been so much better with little change to the script.

I would always recommend watching a descent movie at the cinema and this movie is at least descent. The first hour is worth the price of admission alone and the characters at least pleasing during the second, even if it doesn't deliver on the promises made by the first.

I would probably have enjoyed this movie more if I hadn’t read the book but think I would still have been disappointed.

Read the book, but not before you have watched the movie.

Insider
Reading background information to this movie reveals that it took almost two years to make, with Damon popping out to make 2 other movies between times. Maybe this explains the slowing of plot towards the end. A sure fire candidate for a sequel, hopefully they will address the plot opportunity and Bournes fragile mental state as he comes to terms with what he is, which was a major attraction of the earlier books