The Bourne Identity (2002)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/18/04
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is found adrift at sea, riddled with bullets and without a clue as to who he is. He quickly learns that he's extremely proficient at evasion and self defense, and discovers that a lot of people want him dead. He manages to hook up with a woman named Maria (Franka Potente), and they share an awkward relationship of trust and desperation. The majority of the film has Jason trying to relearn his past, while getting away from his former employers (namely, the CIA).

A good and tense thriller, with lots of lightweight action. The action scenes are very subtle and subdued, giving them a very realistic feel. The hand-to-hand combat is surprisingly graceful and the style looks like it borrows from the Hong Kong kung fu industry. It definitely doesn't look or feel like standard Hollywood brawling fare. The use of color is also very interesting, and the lighting is often very bold and overstated. The acting is quite good and the film keeps a steady pace. Julia Stiles is also quite pretty, which shocked me because I've never found her attractive at all. Overall, "The Bourne Identity" is a smart and well made thriller, but don't go into it expecting lots of explosions, gunplay, and cars flipping over.