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Introduction
The spy genre has changed very much over the last couple of years. The 007 franchise could once be relied upon to provide a good storyline and believable stunts, however those days have gone, and even our favourite secret agent has turned to CGI stunts in his latest outing. That leads me conveniently to last year’s Vin Diesel movie XXX, which was entertaining, but pushed the boundaries as far as believable stunts are concerned. Its not that I don’t enjoy fast-paced action films, but I also like to have a storyline! My confidence in the thoughtful spy genre was slowly dwindling, that was until the release of The Bourne Identity, which was like a breath of fresh air. Its character-driven storyline ensured that audiences flocked to the cinema. Now its time for the DVD release, which is bound to be just as successful.

Bourne Identity, The
Movie
The Bourne Identity is based on the spy novel by Robert Ludlum, which has been modified a little by director Doug Liman. The movie starts off with a surprise discovery in the Mediterranean Sea where a young man is found floating in the water. However, the stranger is still alive, but barely as he has shot wounds in his back. The young man (Matt Damon) is nursed back to health by his rescuers, but it soon becomes apparent that he doesn’t remember any of his past. His hopes are raised with the discovery of a weird device which has been sewn into his skin. The device reveals a code for a safety deposit box in Zurich, so the confused man sets off in the hope of finding his identity.    

Upon visiting the location in Zurich, the man discovers a selection of items within the safety deposit box. Several passports and a gun are among the items found and it soon becomes clear to the man that his identity is Jason Bourne, a secret agent.  At the same time Bourne realises that he is not a popular person. Bourne is targeted by his employers, who consider the amnesia struck agent a threat. Desperate to escape their attention Bourne decides to escape to Paris and enlists the help of a German no-hoper called Maria (Franka Potente), who he pays $20,000 for a no questions asked lift to Paris.

Along the way Bourne rediscovers some of his fighting powers which are needed as he escapes numerous attempts on his life. The movie really hots up as Bourne desperately tries to find out what happened before he was dragged out of the water, while his employers try in vain to stop the agent.

Bourne Identity, The
The Bourne Identity starts off very promisingly, with some great set pieces interwoven with an intriguing storyline. Matt Damon is not renowned for action stardom, but he plays the part of Jason Bourne with great confidence and assurance. His character is not supposed to be a suave James Bond-type, which is a good thing considering that the market is already over saturated with 007 rip offs. Matt Damon may not be all muscles and brawn, but he brings an intelligent aura to the screen. A surprising plus for the movie. The one thing that lets this movie down is the ending. The fact that this movie is gripping throughout left me expecting an equally impressive closing sequence. What we are treated to is a huge let down and is banal. However, don’t let this put you off what is a gripping and classy thriller. A new spy hero has arisen and his name is Bourne!

Video
Universal have treated us to yet another quality transfer. The Bourne Identity is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is also anamorphic widescreen. This is yet another case of new movie, classy transfer, with just about every aspect of it standing out. Colour reproduction is spot on with skin colours and black levels portrayed beautifully. The movie has several impressive scenery shots and each one is brought to the screen flawlessly.  There are the odd compression artifacts, but nothing major. However, these are quickly forgotten as the detail is generally superb and the print is also in pristine condition. Edge enhancements are also nowhere to been seen, and overall this transfer is nothing short of superb. If you are looking for a flagship to show your buddies the wonders of DVD, then you could do a lot worse then choosing this disc. Universal we salute you once again!

Audio
Two separate soundtracks are provided as part of this release. A year or so ago DTS tracks were the exception rather than the norm, but now thankfully us region two fans are finding more DTS tracks included on our discs. The Bourne Identity is no different, with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English DTS provided for our enjoyment. It may be just me, but the difference between Dolby and DTS tracks is decreasing all the time and I noticed very little variation here. As expected the DTS track has the slight edge, sounding more rounded and distinct. However, both tracks are worthy efforts. The dialogue and sound effects are clear throughout and never get lost in the mix.

Bourne Identity, The
Extras
Universal have provided us with a respectable number of extras for this release. First up is the Alternate Ending. This type of extra is one of the most underused in the world of DVD, so it was a welcome addition as far as I am concerned. However, this ending is similar to the original ending, apart from the fact that it is a little more soppy. I am glad the director ignored this ending as it doesn’t really fit in with the tone of the movie. It is far too cheesy and would further degraded what was an average ending in the first place. This alternate ending lasts for two minutes.

Keeping alive the theme of deleted material are four deleted scenes. Each scene can be watched individually, but there are no commentaries to accompaniment them. Each scene runs for approximately two minutes and cover different areas of the movie. My favourite scene is titled ‘Bourne and Marie by the side of the road’. This scene shows the emotional struggle between the two characters, and shows Marie’s apprehension about giving Bourne a lift. This scene would not have looked out of place in the final cut. There is also a scene with a psychologist which should have made the final cut too in my opinion. Advertised as a completely separate extra is an extended farmhouse scene. This scene is a little disappointing and is not really worth watching.

Next up is a documentary called ‘The Birth of The Bourne Identity’. This is a standard run of the mill documentary which features most of the stars from the movie. The main stars start off by talking about the characters they play and how they fit into the overall storyline. The director also talks about his reasons for choosing the movie, which was because he wanted to update the original spy movie. It is advisable that you watch the movie before this documentary, as a lot of the story is disclosed and some of the major stunts are also shown. This documentary runs for about fourteen minutes in total.

Bourne Identity, The
If music videos are your vice then you will be glad to watch the Moby – Extreme Ways music video which can be found in the extras section. The video shows lots of clips from the movie and are woven in with images of Moby. This music video lasts for 3 minutes long and is a perfect example of the musical used in the score. Also featured on this disc is a feature commentary with Director Doug Liman.

The last group of extras are trailers. The theatrical trailer for this movie is probably one of the best trailers I have seen in recent months. It is very lively and has a pounding soundtrack. Although it only runs for just over two minutes it does a good job of selling the movie. There are also two teaser trailers for Johnny English and The Hulk.

Overall
The Bourne Identity is a sophisticated spy movie which should keep you gripped for its duration. It combines good action sequences with a solid storyline which should keep your attention. The movie is only slightly let down by an anti-climatic ending, but that shouldn’t spoil your appreciation of it too much. Matt Damon is the surprise star of the show and demonstrates that he has the charisma to deal with a lead role in a competent manner. Before watching the movie I had reservations about him in this role, but those worries were completely blown away by his mature performance. Universal have once again delivered a class disc which offers an excellent transfer and two great soundtracks. The extras list is also impressive reading and leads me not to hesitate to recommend this release.


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