The Bourne Identity – Fight Choreography At Its Best

The Bourne Identity – Fight Choreography At Its Best

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  1. Have you ever seen Swingers?  It’s a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau made in 1996.  If you have seen it, you might be surprised to know that Doug Liman directed it.  Why is this surprising, you may ask?  Because he also directed the 2002 action packed CIA-style thriller, The Bourne Identity. You couldn’t find two more different films if you tried.  That just shows Liman’s directorial range as both films are good.  The Bourne Identity is adapted from Robert Ludlum’s novel by the same title and didn’t get any nominations at the Oscars or Golden Globes, but did win some technical awards for stunts and fight choreography at some of the more obscure award ceremonies.

    What is it about?

    Just like any CIA style thriller, the story is a bit cumbersome, so let’s focus on the real story… Jason Bourne’s (Matt Damon) search for his true identity.  Bourne is found floating in the ocean, presumed to be dead by the fishermen that find him and take him in.  He isn’t dead, but he does have a bad case of amnesia.  When he arrives on land, he realizes (to his surprise) that he can fight very efficiently when he takes out two cops that confront him for sleeping in a public park.  His confusion grows exponentially when he visits a lock box that he has access to at a highly secure bank (which he found because of a device that was lodged in his hip).  That lock box contains a gun, a handful of passports with caious names and nationalities (but all with his picture), and A LOT of cash… in various currencies.  At this point he should have realized he was a spy or assassin or something, but I guess he doesn’t watch a lot of movies.

    From there, he follows some clues he finds (like residences listed on his passports) in an attempt to discover who he really is and why he was floating in the sea almost dead.  He quickly discovers, however, that a lot of people are interested in capturing him even though he isn’t sure why.  So his entire life basically becomes one long chase scene set against the backdrop of a mystery.  His journey takes him all over Europe with a young woman named Marie (Franka Potente) who just agrees to drive him to Paris then gets drawn in for the long haul.  It also threatens both of their lives on a regular basis at the hands of the police and various highly trained assassins (that happen to work for the same organization Bourne does, Treadstone).  Can Bourne and Marie escape the clutches of the mysterious organization called Treadstone?  Can Bourne find out who he really is?  Watch the film to find out.

    Is it any good?

    The best parts of The Bourne Identity are the immaculately choreographed and uber-intense fight scenes.  Some are short and sweet but brutal and in your face.  One in particular, though, is a little more drawn out (but pretty epic).  All are very realistic, though.  Also, these fight scenes are interspersed throughout the film in a way that makes the pacing work perfectly weaved in with the tedious explanations of what Treadstone is, what happened to leave Bourne afloat in the sea, and why Treadstone wants to track him down so badly.  Adding to the intense action that permeates the film is a 4 or so minute long car chase through the crowded streets of Paris.  From my count, it contains 160ish cuts in less than four minutes… for all you editors out there, you know how wild that is.

    The troublesome aspects of the film include the tedious backstory and semi-lengthy exposition scenes as discussed above.  The dialogue is fine and the acting is good, but this film excels in the action scenes, so you may be wanting more of that while the suit-wearing government types are discussing their problems. Also, as in most of these kinds of films, things just so happen to fall into place for Bourne.  He kind of happens upon Marie (who is, of course, an actractive woman whom he can sleep with), he somehow connects the dots at one point that a dog disappearing must mean an assassin with a sniper rifle is out in the woods aiming for him, and there just so happens to be a drainage pipe to climb up when he needs to get into an upper window.  It’s also rather unbelievable in regards to some of the things that the Treadstone people find out and how quickly they find them out.  I know they are on the same level as the CIA, but seriously… come on.

    Overall, though, the story makes sense (which is more than you can say for some of these types of thrillers) and the emotional thread of Bourne trying to find out who he really is resonates with an audience.  With these things working together alongside the spectacular action scenes, you get a strong thriller that keeps the intensity up.

    Nolan’s Grade:  B

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