I used to resent the Bourne series. As a huge James Bond fan, when the series I loved was beginning to become a silly parody of itself, the Bourne films were showing it up and doing a spy film properly.
There are no gadgets, silly quips, ridiculous action set-pieces and best of all, the series had freedom that Bond didn’t have. There were no “catchphrases” or scenes that had to be played out, like the gadget scene with Q. There were no ”Bourne girls” and best of all, the story was simple and not drawn out.
Nobody is trying to take over the world in The Bourne Identity. There is no threat to global finances or all the gold in the world. Bourne is simply a man trying to find out who he is and why people are trying to kill him, and its refreshing. It’s also a brilliant excuse for some great moments, like when Bourne realises he can speak foreign languages or the first time he beats up two policeman effortlessly.
In fact the action in The Bourne Identity is perfectly slick. The fight between two agents in a hotel room is so cool and complex but a delight to watch. The choreographed moves, attacks and blocks haven’t been this cool to watch since the kung-fu fights in The Matrix.
It isn’t just the fight sequences either. The car chase through the city is just as gripping and exciting to watch and because it involves a car that isn’t an Aston Martin or a Jaguar, just a plain old Mini, you are a lot more engaged, rather than switching off because you’ve seen it all before.
It’s the stripped back, raw nature of the action, story and characters that makes this film so refreshing. Matt Damon was a perfect choice as well. Up until the Bourne films, I don’t think he’d ever done an action film and certainly wouldn’t have been at the top of my “super-spy” list but its the normality of his nature and character that make him so much more believable as a spy than his closest rival.
I watched The Bourne Identity because I wanted to be “caught-up” ready for the Bourne Legacy. Before I had that reason, I was avoiding the series because I was so staunchly behind Bond, especially since that series has been injected with new life. Its only after watching this film that I can see all the influences Bourne had on Casino Royale, the fight sequences, the stripped back nature of the main character and the lack of throwaway female characters that had become a Bond staple.
I know I’m saying what most people had already realised. I’m just thankful that I gave Bourne another try before I completely discounted the whole series based on reluctance to accept that it may be better than a series I have grown up with.
Overall, Bourne is everything as good as people have always said it is. It has raw action, great fight sequences and manages to avoid every cliché that had seemed to become synonymous with the spy genre. You can clearly see the impact its had on the “rebooted” Bond series and I just hope the other two films deliver as strongly as this one.
(1-3 – awful/avoid. 4-6 – average. 7-8 – good. 9-10 – fantastic.)