Bourne Identity (2002)

Dir. Doug Liman
Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, etc.
4/10

The general idea of these films are really good: the CIA hunting down their top agent who happens to have amensia. But the of the concept really falls short. I have a lot of complaints about this film, and I get annoyed because I feel the filmmakers missed a golden opportunity for making a great action film.

Before I start complaining, let me tell you what I liked. As I said I like the general concept of the film. I also like Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.

(spoilers)

I also liked the way the film showed Bourne figuring out who was after him and why. The film did a pretty good job in that respect.

Now on to my complaints. The villians and their motivations were not very compelling in this film. The fact that the CIA, specifically Joan Allen’s character, is hunting Bourne provides a tension between Bourne and the CIA. But the film does a poor job of developing the villians and their story–particularly with the way they’re linked to Bourne (actually, they’re not linked to Bourne which didn’t provided needed antagonism between the hero and the villians). The audience knows very little about motivations of the villians and their links to Bourne and the CIA, and when we do find out, it’s not very interesting.

Another problem had to do with the way the action scenes were shot. The car chase scenes were right of the Jerry Bruckheimer school of confusion through fast-cutting (editing). Understanding what’s going on was so difficult you lose interest.

Another problem was the confrontation between Bourne and one of the villians. Again, there’s no link between the two: the villian is just hired to kill Bourne. That’s fine, but if there were some link it would make the confrontation more dramatic and compelling. Second, the way this villian finds Bourne is really dissatisfying. Basically, he finds Bourne by chance. Then, the way Bourne escapes and eventually defeats the enemy is not very satisfying either.

Most successful action stories have a strong tension between the hero(s) and the villian(s). The more dramatic and creative you can make these tensions, the more excitement the actions scenes will have. You also need to stage and create cool action scenes, ones where the hero gets into a challenging situation and finds creative, but satisfying ways of getting out of them. Bourne has a great premise, but it’s unfortuante that the filmmakers could not ultimately develope a great story or great action sequences.

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