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I enjoy big explosions as much as the next guy.  Every good action/spy flick has them.  The Bourne Identity can not be classified as a typical action intrigue film, though.  What Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) has crafted, using Robert Ludlum’s excellent 1988 novel as a mere springboard, is a rich drama that is littered with great action.  

Bourne Identity, The: Collector's Edition
The Bourne Identity opens with a body floating in the water.  We view this body from underneath, through the water, as intermittent flashes of lighting give it definition.  Soon, the stranger is picked up by a fishing vessel and, here, two bullets are removed from his back.  A laser-pointer containing a Swiss bank safe-box number is removed from his hip.

The stranger travels to Zurich to retrieve the contents of the safe-box.  He finds a bench to sleep on and when prodded by police, he takes them out in a quick series of punches and kicks that surprise even him.  Inside the deposit box, he finds all the items needed to be a figure of international intrigue.  Inside he discovers his name: Jason Bourne.  Other items include passports from several countries, a collection of world currencies as well as a gun.  Bourne collects these items (sans the gun) and leaves that bank.  He is followed to the US Embassy where the action begins.

Inside the American Embassy in Zurich we get our first view of Marie played excellently by Franka Potente (Run Lola Run, The Princess and the Warrior).  Bourne takes notice, but continues on as he is being pursued.  When cornered, Bourne once again finds himself to be a lean, mean fighting machine by taking out several security cards without a second thought.  Bourne makes an escape from the embassy that is a nail-biting cinematic experience.  This scene, which was free from music or any other distractions, solidified the director’s talent in my mind.  This guy is good.

Outside the embassy, Bourne runs into Marie yet again.  He offers her money in return for a ride to Paris (where Jason Bourne lives).  Marie agrees and together they go forward to unravel the mystery.  Along the way, we are treated to a glimpse inside the CIA as a man by the name of Conklin (Chris Cooper) begins to track down Bourne.

The film flows briskly and is full of human moments that raised it to a level above and beyond what your typical action film rests at.  The casting is excellent across the board (although the use of Julia Stiles seems to have been a waste).  The direction, as said before, is excellent.  The music adds to the film.  Overall, this is first and foremost is a drama about a man trying to discover not only WHO he is, but WHY he is.  His past is the only way he can figure out what his future should be.

The film's only flaw is that when we finally figure it all out, it’s nowhere near as exciting as the journey there.  With such tight drama, carefully executed and believable action (including a nail-biting, classic-style car chase through Paris) one would expect a simple, yet satisfying ending.  While we get both, it is just not enough.  This flaw, though, is not enough to justify not seeing the film.  It is an intelligent, fun ride that demands at least one viewing.

Bourne Identity, The: Collector's Edition
The Bourne Identity is presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (a Full-Screen disc is offered).  The picture is crisp.  The colors are slightly subdued, but only to an eye looking for such imperfection.  The snow scenes, however, give away the edge enhancement that is present throughout the film.  It is an admirable transfer, overall, but with some flaws.

Bourne Identity, The: Collector's Edition
This disc offers Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English and French as well as an excellent DTS track.  I watched the entire movie listening to the DTS track and used several key scenes to compare the DD 5.1 and the DTS.  As usual, the DTS stuck out as a much richer, deeper surround experience.  Both tracks, though, are rich and well balanced.  There is almost constant use of the rear channels that effectively drew me into the experience.  This disc has excellent sound.

We are treated to a rich commentary track with director Doug Liman.  Liman is very proud of his work and never leaves any dead air.  Many key topics include adapting the book into a movie, updating the story and working with a cast and crew from diverse backgrounds.  This track, while not one of the best I’ve ever listened to, is highly recommended.  

Next up we have a “Never-Before-Seen Alternate Ending”.  By my standards, this is a false claim.  This short scene is really the same ending, with different dialogue.  It’s very cheesy and I wouldn’t have missed if it had been left out.  In the interest of completeness, though, it is here as an option.

There is almost 8 minutes of deleted scenes offered here, none worth going into detail.  There is no commentary for these scenes.  I will say, you will recognize several bits and pieces from these deleted scenes from the trailers.  There is also a single extended scene which adds some material to the farmhouse sequence.  This is a nice scene that, despite its relevancy, would have slowed the pace down to a crawl at an inopportune moment.

We are given a featurette called “The Birth of The Bourne Identity”.  Unfortunately, this making-of special is nothing worth watching.  It includes dry snippets from the director, producer and stars that add nothing to the movie itself or any real insight into its making.  It’s a flashy piece with far too many scenes from the movie and not enough information.

Moby’s “Extreme Ways” music video is a typical Moby music video.  It’s a good song, but you won’t watch the video more than once.  The features are rounded out with a trailer, production notes and filmogrpahies. On the DVD-ROM side, Total Axess is offered that promises new material in the future (please, please add a real making-of documentary).  For now, we have some small behind the scenes snippets, a still gallery and some interactive games not really worth checking out.

Bourne Identity, The: Collector's Edition
The Bourne Identity, indeed, made a splash at the theater and has done well in the US DVD market.  The movie is a good and atypical in that we have a character driven “action” film.  It is this new trend (expanding genres by focusing on the characters involved in them) that I find very exciting.  While this movie is not perfect, it is great fun.  The DVD is presented well, but could have a few more “deep” extras to earn its “Collector’s Edition” status.  Pick it up as a good edition to your DVD library.