Let me make one thing clear before I go on... for all the spouting off I do about accuracy to the source material, I know about as much about Robert Ludlum's original novel as I do about the varying recipes for Butter Tarts and Ham Dingers! My dear, sweet, loveable Aunt Colleen bought The Bourne Identity for me, and like the ungrateful Judas of a nephew I am it's still on my bookshelf right between John Donne's Poetry and The Tommyknockers! However, a strong endorsement for this film is now I really do want to read that novel. Give me a month or six to get through this stack right here!
Beyond that I can't... I can't go on... not so much that I don't want to spoil it for you but because the best parts of this movie involve the Mini chases!
This is definitely an action packed movie, and the acting is above average for a Hollywood flick. Damon's pretty good as Bourne. My problem with him is that he plays every piece of this the same whether it's action, headache or lust. Maybe that's his unbreakable (even by Amnesia) secret agent training, but the sameness got a little stale. Chris Cooper is great as always. Sure this is a very above average Hollywood movie, but to see him in a typically Hollywood movie at all is strange. I expected him to reveal he was sleeping with a woman he never knew was his half sister, or to kiss Kevin Spacey or something! Still, he's great in his role! Potente is pretty good too. Not the best, but for what she needed to do she did well, and she's not too much of a chore to look at I can say!
I'm kind of Curious as to whether or not Julia Stiles even knew she was in this movie! She's not a bad actress and she's certainly not bad looking but she really isn't doing much but staring gravely at a computer screen and then answering questions into a phone! I wonder if maybe her mom needed an operation or something so she agreed to film a few scenes by herself to be added to an un-named movie to be determined at a later date. I can just see her going to see this film and saying "Oh, this is that film... okay, cool! Somehow I thought Freddy Prinze Junior would have been in this!"
There are a few plot holes here, not big enough for a Mack Truck to drive through, but you could drive a Mini through it... so... would you, please? For one thing, it's never really revealed why the CIA wants one of their best guys dead. They admit he's something else, so why waste good lives sending people to kill him? It's hinted that they're a little hacked that he botched his last assignment (the one that lost him his marbles), but that doesn't seem to hold the water my baseball cap could. Meanwhile the subplot of that last assignment makes brief appearances before ultimately floundering. Bourne is supposed to be able to speak tons of languages, but speaks English to French people, switching to English to the Swiss, then English to Dutch people, and just to spice it up he throws a little English at the English people! In every town Bourne and Maria are so hotly pursued by the agents of Chris Cooper that there is a picture of them waiting in each town they hole up in. Naturally Maria gets her appearance changed (though she still looks like she's about to go to an Echo and the Bunnymen concert before and after the change). Bourne, who is the actual target doesn't bother changing his appearance in any way. He still looks like a bored high school kid whose girlfriend is going to an Echo and the Bunnymen concert without him! Or maybe he was incognito and I didn't realize it because Bourne decided to disguise himself as Matt Damon! Could that be?
Far be it from me to reveal an ending. I won't do it! All I can say here is that the relief here comes with a bit of a "Because I said so" ending. Bourne boldly suggests something outrageous, and damned if it doesn't work out for him! I should try that sometime. Then he goes off to join someone that the bad guys had no trouble finding before. Ah! Peace! Again, though, the movie is well above average, I just have to point these things out or I'm not a critic, I'm a supporter, or something... I don't know!
Three and one Half Stars for The Bourne Identity! It's better than most of the non-Bond spy thrillers out there and it's not derivative like most of this mishmash (unless you're a big Richard Chamberlain fan in which case it might seem vaguely familiar)! With a little more polish around some of the dimples, this might have been a great, great film, but as it stands it's good enough to warrant the presence of Chris Cooper, and it has such a fantastic Mini chase that my life is altered forever (or at least for another three hours)! Without being able to comment on its accuracy to the source material I can still say that I want to read the book now... Hopefully it explains a little more in the subplot area. Hey, it has to be better than Ben "I can't act" Affleck's Alec Baldwin impression in The Sum of all Fears!
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