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The Bourne Identity (2002)

After being pulled unconscious from the Mediterranean Sea, Jason Bourne awakens with total amnesia, with only a Swiss security box bank account number as a clue to his identity. As he presses on his journey to find out who he is, Jason soon discovers that he has survival talents which unexpectantly surface when he then finds himself being pursued by hostile forces.

The cast includes: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, Gabriel Mann, Walt Goggins, Josh Hamilton, Julia Stiles, Tim Button, and Orso Maria-Guerrini.

Screenplay by: Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron, based on Robert Ludlum's novel.

Directed by Doug Liman.

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Promotional Lines: "Who Am I?" "Bourne to survive."
"He was the perfect weapon until he became the target."

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The story begins on a fishing boat, riding out a storm on the Mediterranean Sea, about 60 miles south of Marseille, France. During this rain storm, the crew are playing cards in the ship's hull. Suddenly, a man on board spies a body of a diver, floating in the drink. It takes a group effort to get the still male form up on deck. Suddenly, the diver's hand moves, letting all know that he is still alive!

The diver is quickly plopped on the card table down below, and the ship's captain takes two small bullets out of the diver's back, and a mysterious, small cylinder out of his hip that has a message, which is beamed on the wall; a number of a bank deposit box in a Zurich bank. The diver suddenly becomes conscious, and doesn't know his name or anything about his life.

After regaining his strength, the fishermen drop him off on shore two weeks later, with some money so he can go to Zurich to see if there is anything in this bank deposit box which will help him remember anything at all. He doesn't know it yet, but he is about to land in a whole lot of trouble, and endure a wild roller coaster ride, complete with car chases, cat and mouse games with paid assassins, while following up on clues as to who he is, what he does for a living, and why he was found shot in the Mediterranean Sea. Through it all, he finds that previous training, survival skills and his basic instincts serve him well in surviving the attempts on his life, which were stemming from the coordinated efforts of an unknown force which seems to know a lot about him.

His first stop is at the Zurich Bank to check out the safe deposit box. Is he in for a surprise! He finds a lot of money, various passports with aliases, a gun and a U.S. passport, with the name, Jason Bourne, which he feels is his name. He finds out that he has an apartment in Paris.

At this point, the audience is let onto the fact that the C.I.A. is alarmed that he isn't dead, but has resurfaced alive, and has cleaned out his safe deposit box, suggesting that he has snapped and is a free agent. It seems that Jason is part of a secret C.I.A. project, known as Treadstone, which is made up of sleeper assassins, highly trained and conditioned to kill various targets assigned to them. Jason had been sent to kill an exiled African dictator, but had failed in his mission for some reason. This dictator is now trying to coerce the C.I.A. to get him back into power, or he will expose their Treadstone Project.

Then, we are taken back to Jason's storyline. Next stop for Jason is the U.S Embassy, which he ducks into three steps ahead of the police, who somehow know he was the one who put two cops in the hospital the night before and others who are interested in catching him/ killing him. When security men try to arrest him as he waits in line at the U.S. Embassy, he fights them off with martial arts skills he didn't know he had, and escapes from the soldiers chasing him throughout the embassy building by the skin of his teeth.

After scaling down the outside of the embassy wall, James spies a young woman in the alley, standing by her car, just outside the embassy, which is now locked down because of his activities. This young German woman, Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente), a gypsy of sorts, was at the embassy, in line ahead of him, trying to get a visa to the United States. . He offers her 10,000 dollars to drive him to Paris, and further offers her another 10,000 dollars upon arriving at his Paris apartment. Badly in need for cash, Marie Kreutz throws caution to the wind and joins this wild, dangerous quest, not knowing what trouble she had just volunteered for, that will change her life forever.

Because of the Embassy's outside cameras had caught on tape Marie's car, her face and Jason getting into her car, by the time Jason and Marie arrive in Paris, the local authorities and a group of called up assassin agents have a lot of information about them, due to some special talents of the C.I.A. It doesn't look good for our team, at this point, but by now, the audience is totally involved, forgetting any personal troubles they may have had before viewing this exciting yarn. They are rooting for Jason and Marie, to learn information that Jason needs to have about himself, in order to stay alive, conquer foes, and hopefully escape their rather scary, dangerous reality into a better way of life.

This film is one of the best of its genre, as it has a wonderful blend of action, suspense and quieter moments when the plot is developed as Jason does his investigating, and the C.I.A.Treadstone project leader, Conklin (Chris Cooper) and his team make plans to end their problems, as they hunt down their wayward agent, his accomplice and eventually deal with Wombosi, who promises to be a royal embarrassing pain in the neck.

This flowing, suspenseful, action spy screenplay was written by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron, based upon Robert Ludlum's novel, who was also on board as an executive producer, along with Frank Marshall, who also produced such films as the INDIANA JONES adventure films, SIGNS, BACK TO THE FUTURE films AND THE SIXTH SENSE, to name just a few.

The wonderful pacing, action sequences and great cast performances were all under the fine direction of Doug Liman, who is an up and coming talent, a graduate from USC film school. Liman was also a producer on this film.

A favorite action / martial arts sequence of this reviewer takes place in Bourne's Paris apartment between an assassin agent from Rome, and our hero, Bourne, as they duke it out in the living room, after the assassin makes a dramatic entry by way of a glass window, shooting his machine gun.

There is also a great car chase sequence of scenes, which takes place when Bourne and Marie are being chased in their car by Parisian police around Paris streets, down stairs, against one way traffic, through glass, and on the sidewalks.

Matt Damon is very convincing, and does a fabulous job portraying Jason Bourne, as he calmly survives by his wits, and puts two and two together just in time to defeat the hostile forces, using his extensive training in martial arts, in combat strategy, in driving, and still manages to fall in love in the process of discovering who he is and how he got there.

All is revealed by the end of the story. Damon was well prepared for the physical acting the part required. On the DVD, Matt said that he spent 6 months learning martial arts for this role.

Franka Potente does a great job portraying the flighty Marie Kreutz who unwittingly is sucked up into Bournes' life-threatening troubles, falls in love with Bourne and turns her life around at the end from the experiences she manages to live through with Bourne's help.

Chris Cooper does a good job playing the heavy at the C.I.A., Conklin, who is truly in a pickle.

Adewale Akinnouye Agbaje is entertaining as the annoyingly pompous, angry dictator, Wombosi, who was supposed to be killed by Bourne. Agbaje is known for his sinister role as a henchman who kidnaps the boy in RETURN OF THE MUMMY.

Rated PG-13 for violence and some language. Despite the violent action scenes, where usually one or more people die, or get injured, no blood or gore is shown, which is refreshing for those who become easily ill. The film is done in the spirit of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (Marshall). In the heat of the moment, potty words do slip out. The film does give the C.I.A. a black eye, which isn't anything new in spy yarns coming from Hollywood.

If you liked THE BOURNE IDENTITY you may enjoy THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, THE FUGITIVE, SHATTERED, DEAD AGAIN, ENEMY OF THE STATE, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, PELICAN BRIEF, and DIE ANOTHER DAY.

Jason Bourne quote:

"I can tell you the license numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you the waitress is left-handed. I can tell you the guy sitting at the bar weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself, I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and I know that at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half a mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?"