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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Matt Damon
Franka Potente
Chris Cooper
Clive Owen.
Directors
Doug Liman.
Screenwriters
Tony Gilroy
William Blake Herron.
Running Time
119 minutes

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The Bourne Identity
Matt Damon transforms into an action hard-man with no memory of his past and a government agency out to get him.


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Plot
A bullet-ridden amnesiac is rescued from drowning by a fishing trawler, only to find himself the unwitting target of enemies. Is he really the ruthless assassin they think he is? And will he even live long enough to figure it out?


Review
With a two-year shooting schedule, a script that was redrafted more times than the cast care to remember, and Matt Damon making at least two movies (Ocean's 11 and Spirit) in the middle of all that mess, this thriller comes to the cinemas as much a marked man as its central character. Some of the joins do show, especially towards the end of the film, when a couple of minor characters disappear completely, but by then it has been too much fun to start picking holes.

From the moment Jason Bourne (an excellent Matt Damon) discovers his true powers - taking out in blistering style two cops who accuse him of loitering - a new hero is created. Damon plays Bourne as a man of cat-like instinct; he can make a weapon out of a fountain pen and sense danger at the most innocent of signals.

On the run across Europe with beatnik Potente, his quest to find himself becomes more involving since he is the opposite in nature to his physical appearance. This blue-eyed, innocent-looking American wants to be just that - and yet, much to his horror, he can't help using calculated efficiency to dispose of anyone who represents a challenge to him.

Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) seemed an unlikely choice as an action director, but his hand-held camera style and the improvisational work he does with actors clearly paid dividends here. However ridiculous the situation (and there are some extremely ridiculous situations), he maintains an air of heightened realism about his treatment of Bourne's predicament.

Pumped-up sound effects add to the gruesomeness of the fight sequences. Listen for that moment when the pen is pulled out of a would-be assailant's hand - it's a beaut! For once, a sequel would be welcome.


Verdict
Nothing in The Bourne Identity stands up to close examination, but that doesn't stop it being a rollicking blockbuster ride and perfect Saturday night fodder. Spectacular stunts, enough twists and turns to keep the audience guessing, and Matt Damon delivering as an action hero.


Reviewed by Emma Cochrane

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Bourne Identity
Empire Star Rating

A great action thriller

A superb start to a great trilogy. The story is brilliant. Cooper is sublime as always, Clive Owen makes a wonderful appearance, Brian Cox is terrific and Matt Damon was born to be Bourne (sorry). ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 21:18, 07 February 2013 | Report This Post


The Bourne Identity Review

Expertly blending genre formula with bursts of unexpected wit, The Bourne Identity is an action thriller that delivers - and then some. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 17:14, 15 January 2012 | Report This Post


Bond Gets Beaten by an Amnesiac

One of the things I loved about this movie is the lack of a need for the frenzy of lengthy gun fights and explosions that are normally packed into these movies. This gave the Bourne Identity a whole new level of independence from the typical action movie clichés, and the result is truly spectacular. Actually, Bourne takes a while to get into any type of action whatsoever. In fact, one could be forgiven at first for mistaking this for some sort of drama - right up until the point where ou... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by COLO at 19:33, 09 July 2010 | Report This Post


Brilliant

i just re-watched The Bourne Identity (ive seen each movie once). I loved it even more the 2 time around. Brilliant cat & mouse thriller. Damon is fantastic. As soon as the movie finished i got the need to watch the Supremacy, fantastic satisfying ending yet it leaves you wanting to see more. I'm just glad it isn't 2002 where i'd have to be waiting around for next movie. Hopefully they get their acts together and release a 4th movie. I'm hard picked to what i prefer? The Bourne ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Al Swearengen at 11:09, 04 November 2008 | Report This Post


I really want to see what happens in the end of the series.

I"ll be honest with u,i was"nt a big fan of this movie,but it gives u that urge to spend money and watch the next onei believe that it"s called.....addiction. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnPaul1996 at 21:48, 01 July 2008 | Report This Post


I find these movies to be alittle overated, the plot is nothing to brack about as it seems like something we've heard before, and the action and car chases are a little to fast paced, and this is just my opinion, but I really see no need to watch it again. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dgribble at 17:38, 28 February 2008 | Report This Post


Engaging...

...Damon is surprisingly effective as a highly-trained super agent action man. Potente is an engrossing side-kick. The plot is failry forgettable but this is decent popcorn-chewing cinema. Good fight scenes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dhollseed at 02:14, 18 August 2007 | Report This Post


Engaging...

...Damon is surprisingly effective as a highly-trained super agent action man. Potente is an engrossing side-kick. The plot is failry forgettable but this is decent popcorn-chewing cinema. Good fight scenes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dhollseed at 02:14, 18 August 2007 | Report This Post


PURE BOURNE

At last we have some quality spy thrillers with the Bourne films.It made the bond producers take a look at what they were doing,Now there`s praise personified. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by theslinker at 20:21, 28 July 2007 | Report This Post


PURE BOURNE

At last we have some quality spy thrillers with the Bourne films.It made the bond producers take a look at what they were doing,Now there`s praise personified. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by theslinker at 20:21, 28 July 2007 | Report This Post


Meh. Nothing to write home to the kids about! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tallaght24 at 13:13, 03 July 2007 | Report This Post


Meh. Nothing to write home to the kids about! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tallaght24 at 13:13, 03 July 2007 | Report This Post


Bourne Begins

truely great piece of work. the cool action scenes are great and so are the stunts. *RECOMMENDED* ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rockerjo at 17:48, 31 January 2007 | Report This Post


Bourne Identity

This film was american indie film-making in Europe . Matt Damon was a revelation as an action hero. Potente humanized his blank personality enough to make you care. The Bourne project showed there was life after James Bond, an over flogged franchise if ever there was one. The new Casino Royale has learned from 'Bourne': energetic,earthbound, a believable hero. Bourne again! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by john.sharman27 at 16:58, 28 January 2007 | Report This Post


The Bourne Identity

The film that launched Matt Damon's career as an action star and cemented him as one of the leading A-list stars in the Holywood game, The Bourne Identity is fast-paced, ultra-cool and just so bloody good that it is hard to imagine the initial scepticism that greeted it. Directed by Doug Liman, a low-profile indie brat, and starring an Oscar winner best known for his dramatic turns in the likes of Good Will Hunting and The Talented Mr Ripley, this should have been, at best, an underwhelming, hig... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Eomer_King at 16:40, 09 November 2006 | Report This Post


bourne again

Another fine addition to a worthy genre...fantastic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 13:10, 17 May 2006 | Report This Post


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