Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review: The Bourne Identity (2002)

Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

A few days ago, I was asking myself, where have all the good action movies gone? I missed the spirit of movies like Die Hard and any number of classic Schwarzennegger movies and all of the great classics of yesteryear. As I made these strange, specific wishes, a magical tune sounded, and then I found myself knocked to the ground by an explosive force. As I got up, I gazed upon the wreckage of my room in sheer horror. A giant monster-truck had smashed with a frightening force through my wall, and sitting in the front seat was a ghastly aberration. It looked to be the disembodied spirit of John Malkovich. I bowed in reverence.

But he did not kill me. Rather, after several blood sacrifices and ritualistic practices, I was handed a DVD colored a dark, jungle-like green. It was titled "The Bourne Identity," and it glowed in such a strange radiance.

I popped it into the DVD player hours later, after the shock of Malkovich's sudden appearance wore off. And after the vomiting, which was customary to his appearance, had ceased. I was greeted not by the lovable, immediate action of older films, but by a storm at sea, a lost memory and government conspiracies. This was a different road than those I had previously traveled, but I kept watching as it unfolded into a more subtle and mature jaunt than I had expected.

And indeed, The Bourne Identity is not really a film one can turn on in the background and expect to really 'get.' This is a fast-paced, involving, smart thriller that does not wait up for the viewer to put the pieces together. I really like how mature and sensible this movie is. There's just nothing candy-coated or dumbed down about it. It expects you to keep up, like any good movie should, but like too many do not.

I'm not too sure I like lead actor Matt Damon, as there is just something about his face and acting that just doesn't really do it for me, but as an actor he does a fine job, putting his all, or what I assume is his all, into this performance. I like Franka Potente a lot, as she is just gorgeous as Bourne's semi-unwilling traveling companion. Her character isn't really explained a lot, but it's enough for this movie, and there's just something really likable about her. I also quite liked Julia Stiles as the enigmatic female agent "Nicky" - surely a character I hope to see more of in the future sequels!

The action is definitely cool. It's so fast and furious it's like watching one of those old episodes of Dragonball Z, except without all of the powering up, and most of the alien creatures. This is just really entertaining and fun, making the whole movie more well rounded for all its speedy, complex politics. There is definitely a lot of stuff here that needs answers, and if it needs sequels to do that, well let me tell you...I think this is one of the few series that actually merits it. Pirates of the Caribbean? Pfft, it is officially outdated.