Saturday, July 2, 2016

Bourne Watch: The Bourne Identity (2002)

I was deeply skeptical when the Bourne movies were released.  I don't know exactly why, but I used to find non-Bond espionage stuff a bit boring and I was a bit suspicious of Hollywood forcing Matt Damon on us all.  But when the third one came out and everyone liked the first two, I borrowed some DVD's from a trusted source.

Fortunately, the Bourne movies wound up making a believer of me.  Not only am I big fan of these films, but I finally came to accept that Matt Damon is one of my favorite actors working today (you guys saw The Martian, right?).

I really don't think I need to sell a huge blockbuster that spawned four sequels (one, inexplicably, starring Jeremy Renner, and, no, I didn't see it, either).  Likely you've all seen the movie, so I don't feel a particular need to say much about it.

It seems to me that the movie brought a few things to the big screen.

It's sort of the final demarcation point between the quippy action heroes of the 1980's and how action heroes would be seen as uber-capable/ superheroes who blend into the public, rather than a sort of Superman like John Matrix or Rambo.  Jason Bourne doesn't try to kill people, unlike those same characters.  It may occur as dudes come at him with machineguns, but he just wants to be left alone.

It was also, to my memory, the start of the whole "Krav Maga" style of action fighting.

Look, I love a good Jet Li actioner as much as the next guy, but there's more than one way to break a femur.  By the time Batman Begins rolled around, even Batman was in on the up-close fighting style, but also proving - it's a tough thing to film (one of my criticisms of the first of the Nolan Bat-trilogy).  Really, The Bourne Supremacy was where we'd see that idea really take off, but it's fully intact in The Bourne Identity, showcased best in the fight in the Paris apartment.

The cast is interesting.  I mean, I'm not sure in 2002 many folks thought of Matt Damon as an action star, but that's exactly why it works.  He's young here, and as we're in shooting range of the same age, it's a pretty firm reminder that, hey, we're all getting older, as he looks positively baby-faced in this movie.

Then you get the always terrific Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles in her last memorable role, a young Walter Goggins (from Justified), and Clive Owen.  It's also what marks Franka Potente's brush with American movie stardom in the wake of Run Lola Run (a movie I found kinda... dull and unmemorable, but people loved it).  And she's really pretty good, but, yeah, the sequels were most definitely not interested in the adventures of Jason and Maria.

It's also got a kind of curious score by John Powell, who was here to introduce breakbeat to the masses whether they liked it or not.  And, yeah, I think in ten years, aside from the 2002-era technology in play, this is going to mark the movie as product of its time as much as wah-pedal funk under action sequences tells you "it's the 70's!".

Anyway, whatevs.  We all know and love Jason Bourne, and I felt like it'd been a while, and I'll be catching the 5 movie later this summer, so best to get caught up again.

If there's one thing I don't like about this movie is that it does not have any Joan Allen, but they fixed that with the sequels.


Paul Toohey said...

I always wish that instead of Daredevil with Ben Affleck we would have gotten it with Matt Damon.

Julia Styles was memorable in Dexter, mostly because she broke up the actors who played siblings marriage IRL.

I remember really digging Run Lola Run. I should rewatch it.

The League said...

I just kinda felt like "okay, I get it" with RLR pretty quickly. Coulda been the mood I was in.

I think in an alternate universe somewhere, Damon would have made a swell Captain America, but I'm such a fan of Chris Evans' work, it's kinda moot. Just glad we're getting a new Bourne in a few weeks here.