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The Bourne Identity
Review written by: Alex Sandell

You have no idea how hard it is for
me to resist a, "don't leave me hangin'
here" joke.   

You wake up as a makeshift floating device in the Mediterranean Sea.  You can't remember a damn thing about your life, who you are, or where you left your car keys.  You've got enough bullet holes planted in your back to make Bonnie & Clyde drool with envy.  A bunch of daunting goons are coming after you, and the one individual who seems willing -- or able -- to help sort this all out is the punk rock girl from Run Lola Run (Franka Potente) playing Marie Kreutz.  The only person I can imagine being more confused than the amnesiac character of Jason Bourne was Matt Damon himself, when he was asked to play the amnesiac character of Jason Bourne. 

Damon has created a nice niche for himself playing benevolent characters with weaknesses for gambling, mathematical equations or pretty horses.  It's been his partner in crime, Ben Affleck, who has whored himself out to nearly every action movie under the sun (see, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back for a gut busting scene between Ben and Matt regarding this very issue).  I'm sure if Ben wasn't already busy pretending to be Harrison Ford in, The Sum of All Fears, he would have taken this part, and Matt would be busy making some bizarre movie about playing golf with ghosts who have a gambling fetish and a thing for animated horses.    

Fortunately for us, Affleck took on the role of Jack Ryan, leaving the choice part of Jason Bourne to Matt Damon, who doesn't simply get his feet wet in his first foray as a lead in an action movie, but dives right in, headfirst.  After seeing his performance in The Bourne Identity, I honestly believe that Damon could become the "next big thing" in the world of action and adventure.  This guy has charisma, the need to kick ass and something lacking in a lot of the big action stars; the ability to act.  Although Mr. Damon could probably carry the entire picture alone, he had help from screenwriters Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron who, with The Bourne Identity, have scripted a "just-above-average" thriller that director Doug Liman crafts into one of the fastest cat and mouse films ever put onto film to be projected over the heads of eager summertime popcorn-munchers.  

The Bourne Identity is just as shallow as it needs to be to make it the most entertaining movie of 2002, thus far.  The film's dazzling action is only briefly interrupted for Jason Bourne to discover yet another clue about who he actually is/was (ranging from "intriguing-as-hell" to "totally-ludicrous"), or for the Run Lola Run girl to vomit out some exposition with that inconsistent accent of hers.  

This movie isn't about accents and acting anyway (although neither one is that bad).  This movie is about running.  This movie is about chasing.  This movie is one long line of action sequences tied together that will cause your stomach to twirl, un-twirl and possibly dance itself a little jig.  You've seen it all before, but you've never seen it quite like this.  PG-13?  Ha!  If films were rated on intensity alone, this one would get an NC-17.  

Thanks in large part to Doug Liman's refusal to slow down as a director, and Matt Damon's keen ability to throw himself into what could have been a trivial role with such incredible stamina and punch that he makes it all seem very tangible and real, The Bourne Identity could be the action movie to beat this summer.   There's a new action hero in town, and I'm sorry Yoda, but he isn't a CGI midget with bad hygiene and Miss Piggy's voice.   Finally, summer has officially landed. 

On a scale of 1-10?

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Text (Copyright) 2002 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].

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