Bourne Identity (The)
This story, a well-crafted and and well-acted set-up for well-executed martial arts and big chases, is about nothing much more than the amoral climate in agencies such as the CIA, but in that alone, seems worth consideration.
As the movie opens, a fisherman from Marseilles spots a floating body. Hauled aboard, it turns the man isn't dead, but has sustained two bullets and has a capsule, containing the code to a Swiss bank account, in his skin. The rescued man (who doesn't remember who he is) gets money from the kind fisherman to take a train to Switzerland, where he's somehow able to withdraw a huge sum from a bank, despite not knowing who he is, and having no form of personal identification.
He finds out who he is by looking inside the bank bag, where he finds several passports, one saying his name is "Bourne." To learn if that's his real name, and why he was floating in the Mediterranean, he pays $10,000 to a gypsy, Marie (Potenta, who was in "Run Lola Run"), to drive him to Paris.
The movie cuts to CIA headquarters in Virginia, where Bourne's handler, Conklin (Cooper), and his boss, Abbott (Cox), have presumed Bourne dead; his having taken money from his Swiss account has let them know he's alive. Having failed to assassinate an African leader, Bourne, or whoever his is, must himself now be killed. (Most likely, Bourne would have been targeted even if he his mission had been successful.) The task of his assassination is given to a group of CIA killers, headed by "the Professor" (Owen), who's as highly trained as Bourne.
Bourne speaks several languages, is a formidable martial artist, has highly-trained powers of observation and memory, knows spies' tricks, and is a sensational driver - the last of which we see in a car chase through Paris, much of it down narrow alleys, flights of stairs, and into oncoming traffic.
The movie's brutally cynical "happy" ending reveals that the film doesn't take itself seriously. Director of Liman approaches all his scenes well, gets the right look at every location, absorbs us with a spy's craft, and uses Damon's focused, sincere persona to good effect.
Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron. based on the novel By Robert Ludlum
Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox
CIA; agent losing identity
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