The Bourne Identity (2002)

[Release Date: June 6, 2002 (premiere)]

3.5 stars for Bad Will Spying!!!1/2

Interesting little Spy Caper which manages to Snag Chris Cooper!
And I'm buying a Mini!

The Bourne Critic!!!
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

I've made a very important decision that is very important to me and I feel I must share it with you! I want a Mini! I have to have one! Yes, I realize they are cheap compact imports repackaged with a nominal amount of Chrome as luxury cars in the USA. I know this and I don't care. Even I thought they weren't masculine enough for me (a Mustang driver) to sport around in, but after seeing The Bourne Identity I realize how wrong I was and what a little sneak attacking little Muppet monster the Mini really is! There should be an inter-governmental mandate that all movies regardless of setting or genre should have at least one Mini chase! I might actually watch The Italian Job for this very reason! After this maxi-Mini chase the rest of The Bourne Identity could have sucked like a newly refurbished Electrolux. Luckily, it didn't suck!

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!

THIS IS THE MINI!  It will be Mine!  Oh, Yes!  It will be Mine!
"Above: Yep! Luck be a lady right now... This is the actual Mini from The Bourne Identity that I was raving about at Universal Studios Hollywood (08/22/03). (I'm the one in the front!)
They wouldn't sell it to me though! I mean... if they aren't going to allow you to buy valuable props from major motion pictures at rock-bottom self-quoted prices with a post-dated fourth party check, they really do need to put up a sign, man!"

Mini and Mini Me!
How about a Retake?: Same place (Universal Studios Hollywood), Same Car, new Me... Yes, folks, now I actually COULD fit into the Mini! (Photo taken August 27, 2007). I never did buy that Mini... I bought the convertible PT Cruiser instead. Huzzah!
Matt "my friend can't act" Damon assumes the role of title character Jason Bourne re-Bourne from nothingness off the coast of Europe without memory of much of anything. Oh, he remembers his habits and his various languages and martial arts training, but such minor details as his name or where he lives... those are inconveniently absent from the book and volume of his memory (like I wish Good Will Hunting was gone from mine)! One thing that is still with him is his remarkable sleuthing capabilities which must have been vital to him in what ever occupation he held before that of transient amnesiac. Regardless, his analytical mind leads him (via account number) to a Zurich Bank at which a safe deposit box is waiting for him. Therein is a grab bag of more multinational (pre-Euro) moneys as well as enough phony passports to hide John Travolta from his agent and a really neat pistol (all I have is my Granny's silverware). He also finds that he's being followed by goons who want to either arrest him, kill him, or get him to introduce them to Kevin Smith. Chases both in and outside the American Embassy ensue with plenty of chances to show that Bourne can fight like Jim Kelly and hide like Peter Scolari's career! He is forced to team up with a beautiful (very beautiful) down on her luck European named Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) who owns very little except for a fantastic little Mini automobile! Lucky Bourne has cash to spare so he can bribe her into cutting a swath through central Europe with him from Zurich sidewalks to Paris staircases in that Mini! All the while Bourne is consumed by migraines and flashes of sub-memory!

Born in Germany!

Born in Japan
Among those who are not rooting for Bourne's safe return is the company he used to work for... the CIA (I think) led by Brian Cox and Chris Cooper, clearly wishing he was in a an indie, but needing to pay rent nonetheless! Every little mile Marie and Jason make in the Mini is marred by Cooper's agents and the European governmental cronies they can bribe into harassing, molesting and annoying them until they finally abandon the Mini (Damn it)!

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!

I wonder if Damon will remake any other Chamberlain projects...
"The Bourne Birds" anyone?
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The Bourne Identity (2002) Reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is responsible for his own views,
and for his disappointment in Good Will Hunting!
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