Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Most everyone has seen The Bourne Identity. It’s pretty much required viewing. Still, the action-heavy studio-mandated reshoots are worth a quick mention.

“Additional photography” is a euphemism for some slob at the studio deciding a movie isn’t dumb enough. This could have been a near-perfect film, but there is so much indulgence in unrealistic situations that the movie must be appreciated piecemeal. Hopefully, the audience watches the good parts and forgets about the parts that drag.


Blue-and-orange color coding helps the audience remember the product is a movie.

Some (not all) of the generous heap of action in this film is sloppily handled. While I enjoyed this film (((in my youth))) I’m starting to understand some of the criticisms.

How is it that Bourne keeps getting into fisticuffs with random dudes? Surely, this black task force that officially doesn’t exist and can rain death upon the world has better means than just sending kung fu guys after their rogue agent. It’s quite the questionable strategy in a movie full of questionable things.

In one such scene, Bourne hears someone around the corner, his girlfriend shouts that the shower is too cold, and Bourne says my favorite line in the movie:

Hold on baby, I’m gonna GET IT HOT.

Bourne runs the kitchen sink, then a dude pops up and they fight.

Let’s not forget the car chase scene. The strategy is simple: get away from the cops and hide the car. As if the audience doesn’t understand, the strategy is demonstrated for 10+ minutes. When that juvenile bullshit is over, Bourne and friend park in a garage and have a conversation about plot things.

There is also the part where Clive Owen shoots a gasoline barrel and it blows up in a spectacular explosion. What follows is a serviceable action scene, an emotional Clive Owen death scene, a formulaic “another time, another place” scene, and a sentimental early-2000s resolution involving dolphins.

Some parts of the script are good, but the redressing of the film as an action movie is amateur hour.

While the Bourne series is nowadays known as dumb action schlock, the first couple of sequels had a degree of dignity to them, albeit less with each installment. They were dignified in their schlock, counterbalancing the dumber moments with twists and turns that at the very least made the audience feel like they got their money’s worth. For people who just want to kill a couple hours and don’t care, this franchise is fine.

What started with promise turned into humdrum social relevantism and more stupid fight scenes, especially in the latest installment to feature Damon. Such is the fate of any Hollywood series. What distinguishes Bourne is that at one point, it tried to be smart.