A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 220 – The Bourne Identity

The Bourne Identity – October 6th, 2010

I have no good reason for not having seen this or its sequels before. None whatsoever. It wasn’t overhype. It wasn’t any particular objection. I don’t have issues with any of the main cast or the director. I like spy movies and thrillers when I’m in the mood. And that’s about it. I’ve just never quite been in the right mood at a time when I have time to watch a movie. This is something that happens to me. I want to put something in, but I’m in the mood for something in particular. Usually something mindless so it can be background noise. And a movie like this isn’t background noise. You kind of want to pay attention so you know what the hell is going on.

While this is ostensibly a sort of super spy thriller, it is one with an inherent mystery going on. It’s not a case of figuring out who’s the bad guy and all. In this case the bad guys are a somewhat dark grey area, but who they are isn’t a question. We know that there’s a somewhat secretive government-funded program that has something to do with our main character and what’s going on around him. But our main character doesn’t know who he is. He doesn’t know what he does or why he was found floating in the ocean, shot in the back, with the number for a Swiss bank deposit box embedded in his hip. He can’t remember, but signs point to him being a dangerous man of some sort. So the mystery and thrill aren’t about a spy or secret agent going on a mission to stop a villain. They’re about a man with all the skills we associate with the baddest of badasses who has no idea why he knows fifty ways to kill someone with a pen. That’s some damn good suspense right there.

So yeah, Jason Bourne, found floating in the Mediterranean, totally clueless as to his identity and prior life, ends up finding out he was kind of working for the US government and they’re kind of pissed he went AWOL on them. The thing is, since he has no idea who he is or what he should be doing, according to procedure, he does it all wrong. I’d say this is a serious lapse in the handling and training protocols for such agents. Seriously, these are dudes who run a major risk for getting a knock on the head, and no one thought maybe keeping a tail on them in case of a slip-up was a good plan? Anyhow, the movie revolves around this sort of dance between Bourne, learning about his past and what sort of man he was prior to his memory loss, and the government agency who sent him out and their other operatives.

It’s a beautifully choreographed film. Every move Jason and Marie (a woman he accidentally ends up involving in the whole mess) make is countered by Conklin, the man in charge of the operation. Good suspense should, rightfully, be a chess game. An uneven one. Where one side of the board has managed to queen a couple of pawns and still has a knight in play and the other has a single rook and maybe a pawn locked up somewhere mid-board. And in the case of this movie, the player with the rook doesn’t know where the other player’s king is. Sort of like Battleship. I think I’ve just invented something evil. Moving on.

The whole movie is set up so that the audience knows more of what’s going on than Bourne does. We get to see the folks in Washington talking about how an agent has gone missing and we get to see when they track him down and have footage of him he doesn’t know exists. We see when they have a woman named Nicky doing surveillance on him from a safe house in Paris and he doesn’t know she exists (and might I mention, Julia Stiles as Nicky is awesome even though she’s in like, five minutes of the movie). We see other operatives in other cities, mobilizing and getting ready in case Bourne comes their way and he has no idea to watch for them. The enemy isn’t some shadowy threat from a foreign power. The enemy is a friend. The worst kind of friend. The sort of friend who doesn’t jump off a bridge and get you to come with, they get you to do it first.

I greatly enjoyed this tonight. I’m a little sorry I hadn’t seen it before, but I think I was right that I need to be in the right mood. Andy happened to suggest it and the timing of the trilogy works well for tonight, tomorrow and Friday, and I happened to be up for a thriller that demanded my attention. Perfect combo, right there. I’m looking forward to the other movies tomorrow and Friday, even if Clive Owen won’t be in them (another awesome role that only got a handful of shots). They’ll have Matt Damon, and I’m really liking him in this, so that’s a very good thing. And IMDB tells me Franka Potente and Julia Stiles are back, so that’s a yay. And there’s the promise of Karl Urban and Marton Csokas. Sounds like a good cast and if the others are as good as the first I’m sure I’ll be happy.

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October 6, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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