You know, between the taskmaster and the boys kicking balls, there just hasn’t been much time for movies lately. But I want to tell you, even if your busier than me, you need to make time to get out of the house and down to the cinema to see The Bourne Identity. There’s a simple reason: it’s an excellent movie, maybe the best big money film of the year so far.
Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne (well, he’s sort of Jason Bourne, we never do really know) and Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) plays Marie, the $20,000 taxi driver while Chris Cooper, with all of Texas in his mouth, leads the hunt for them. All three really act, which is not particularly something you look for in a straight action movie, and they don’t use a lot of computer effects or wire-aided martial gymnastics as crutches.
Julia Stiles, apparently glad to have a role where she’s not playing a high school hottie, plays a CIA agent running an illegal Paris office; she doesn’t even get to look that hot and in the one scene where we see her full on, she looks sort of hippy. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who played Simon Adebisi on Oz, shows up as a deposed African dictator trying to blackmail the bad CIA people into putting him back in office. Walt Goggins from this season’s surprise hit, The Shield, plays a CIA desk jockey. Clive Owens (The Croupier), a fellow member/victim of an experimental CIA drug-enhanced warrior program gone bad, tries to take down Damon but in the end just isn’t good enough.
One reason for the good result is that it comes from a strong source: a great novel by Robert Ludlam, who also exec produces or at least gets a credit for that. Scriptwriter Tony Gilroy has a great pedigree–Bait, Armageddon, The Devil’s Advocate, and Extreme Measures–but doesn’t really need to add much here. Director Doug Liman is the man, showing surprisingly good form in his first big action flick; you wouldn’t think Go and Swingers would have prepared him for this. But he crunches Damon and Potenta through car chases, assaults, and traps, twisting them time after time, until finally Damon can turn the tables on Cooper. Limon often uses Damon’s face full of confusion, guarded yet confident, to fill the screen. Good job!