Monday, March 25, 2013

Movie Review: The Bourne Identity

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Engrossing plot and great action sequences
Cons: Characters? What characters?
The Bottom Line:
Get caught up in plot
Despite some big weaknesses
It's just average

So Much Potential Wasted

A group of fishermen find a body floating in the ocean. When they pull him (Matt Damon) on board their boat, they discover that he is still alive. Their doctor takes two bullets out of his back.

Two weeks later, the ship returns to shore, but that man still has no recollection of who he is or what he does. The only clue to his identity is a Swiss bank account number.

The bank account contains currency in several denominations and several passports. It appears, however, that the man's real name is Jason Bourne. It also appears he lives in Paris.

Jason also realizes he is being followed, so he hires a woman named Marie (Franka Potente) to drive him to Paris. While he still doesn't remember who he is, he discovers that he has training in something serious. He's got great martial arts skills and freaky abilities to plan illegal missions.

Things only get worse in Paris when someone breaks into what Jason things is his apartment. Who is out to kill him and why? Can he piece things together in time to save his life?

This movie is your typical action/spy thriller. As a result, it is all about the plot. The first time I saw it, I was confused as to what was going on and was glued to the edge of my seat. There are several great action sequences that heighten the suspense. And there is an incredible car chase that is so much fun to watch.

However, the characters suffer as a result. The story focuses so much on the action and plot that we never truly get to know the characters. Cardboard cut out could have been used with the same effect.

Now this isn't a slam on the actors at all. Matt Damon leads a mostly unknown cast here, but everyone does well with the material they have to work with. Matt especially manages to get some sympathy for his character out of the script, and he does a great job playing a confused man.

For a movie that focuses on plot, however, the plot could have been clearer. I rewatched it with my roommates, and at the end we had a couple different takes on what happened and why at a few key moments. If you are going to focus on plot, make sure it makes sense.

But my biggest complaint goes back to the characters. It is established early on that, even though Bourne doesn't remember who he is, he still instinctively has all of his training. However, when the plot needs him to be dumb, he conveniently does the worst things possible. Heck, he did some things I know better than to do based solely on the books I've read and the movies I've seen. This really threw me out of the film.

This is an action movie that isn't meant to be analyzed too closely. If you are looking for a mindless thriller, this will fit the bill. Just don't make my mistake and actually expect The Bourne Identity to make sense.

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