The Bourne Identity

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Identity

The alternative ending is the same basic idea, shot from a different angle. It doesn't work as well and feels as though it's been slapped on without care or attention. The present ending is weak at best, a typically incredible tie up, with romantic overtones, that doesn't fool anyone. This discarded version is even more casual. It's better in the dumpster.

There are four deleted scenes, all of them good. The sound and picture quality is, at times, appalling here. Particularly memorable is a scene of the psychologist talking to the CIA guys about Bourne ("I have a sense that he's just lost "). The acting is striking. It seems a shame to lose any of these.

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The Birth Of The Bourne Identity is a too-slick mini-documentary about the making of, in which director Doug Liman wanders about with a camera on his shoulder, indy style. Matt Damon and Franka Potente talk intelligently and there are the usual Behind The Scenes inserts, which never fail to inspire feelings of admiration for actors.

The music video intercuts scenes from the film with Moby's vocal. Visually exhilerating and exciting. Extreme Ways is a terrific song, too.

The Extended Farm House Scene is another take of the kids eating at the table, responding to this unknown person - Bourne. The sound and picture quality is again terrible. It hardly seems worth bothering with.

The Commentary by Liman is one of the best. He's articulate, informative, fun, honest and excellent company. He's not afraid to admit that the stormy sea effects at the start of the film are fake. The boat was tied up in dock all the time.

He fell in love with the book at high school and remembers that Marie was an economist from Canada in the original novel. After seeing Run Lola Run, he knew he wanted Potente for the role, despite her being German, and so Marie became a gypsy student type, sexy, self-possessed and unglamorous. "This is Marie's story. She's the only normal person in the movie."

Liman's experience before Bourne was with indy comedies, Swingers and Go. He expresses surprise and gratitude that the producers considered him for an action picture, which, in the hands of a more conventional director, would have been half the movie it is. Liman's contribution cannot be underestimated and the producers deserve to be congratulated for taking the risk. "I love trying to put energy into film," he says. "I have a very short attention span."

He is generous with praise, particularly for his second unit director who spent the entire time shooting a car chase in Paris. When you see it, you'll understand why. Car chases have become cliche in movies of this genre, but they shouldn't be. There is real artistry involved. "The French probably have the best drivers in the world," Liman says. He loved working there. "It's wonderful for an American to come to Paris and be surrounded by people who love the movies."

Liman's father was involved with the CIA during the Iran Contra scandal. His memoirs of that period were source material for the Chris Cooper/Alex Cox sequences. "There is a lot of Oliver North in Chris Cooper," Liman confesses.

Finally, the cold. Prague in January took physical discomfort to the brink of cruelty. There was one scene when Matt Damon couldn't speak his lines because his face had frozen. "We had to beat him up between takes."

Despite this, "all the stunts were real. That was Matt." Damon bashers can shut up now. The boy done good.

Reviewed on: 23 Mar 2003
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The Bourne Identity packshot
CIA agent Matt Damon loses his memory and is chased around Europe by hired assassins.
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Product Code: 9028522

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Commentary by director Doug Liman; The Birth Of The Bourne Identity - behind the scenes; Alternative ending; Deleted and extended scenes; Moby "Extreme Ways" pop video; Trailer; CD-ROM features

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