Monday, 26 March 2012

The Bourne Identity Commentary

The Bourne Identity is a lot like Jimi Hendrix.  When you watch it ten years later, you see a fantastic action movie but you tend to forget just how groundbreaking and game-changing it was when it was first made.  Prior to 2002, many spy movies were still following the old mould of James Bond where an extraordinary person was put in an extraordinary position with extraordinary results.  Bourne changed all that.  The fact that many spy/action films are following the same pattern (much like musicians almost always listing Hendrix as an influence) is a testament to the way things are going in the action genre.  Even the James Bond movies have rebooted to make the characters and situations more accessible to the viewer.

I will concede that there have been lots of action moves with a regular guy that we can relate to being put in an extraordinary situation.  John McClane in Die Hard is one of these.  But McClane was thrust into an unbelievable situation.  Jason Bourne, while he leads an extraordinary life, is made accessible and relatable through his amnesia.  Through the whole film, the viewer can relate to not only the character but his situations as well.  We will probably never be fully privy to what goes on in the spy world but I imagine that the events could be very similar to what we see in these films.  From start to finish, you feel like most of these things could actually happen.  Granted, falling 5 stories, shooting a guy on the way down and breaking your fall on a corpse is not likely to turn out for you the way it did for Bourne.  But no action movie is going to be 100% realistic.

Bourne comes as close as you can while making it exciting.  The tension mounts right at the start with Bourne being found floating unconscious in the Mediterranean Sea.  It never lets go and builds to a very tense climax between him and Treadstone at a Paris safe house.  Matt Damon and Franka Potente do a fantastic job of working their way through their mystery and making the viewer feel that they are actually scared as to what they might uncover as well as what is chasing them.

Finally, because it has one and I love them, I need to address the car chase scene.  It is one of the finest I have seen in any movie.  Car chases are great when they involve regular cars in crowded situations.  using a beat up Mini in the narrow Paris streets was fantastic.  The entire gloomy rain atmosphere just adds to it.  The choreography throughout is flawless.  And Bourne's and Kreutz' reaction when it ends in the parking garage is absolutely priceless and one of my favourite movie moments of all time.

This is a fantastic action movie that grabs you and never lets go.  Definitely see it.  You should probably have it in your collection as well.

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