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I’ve always been a fan of the action thriller genre so when The Bourne Identity landed on my doorstep I was quietly confident of a couple of hours solid entertainment. Surprisingly though I hadn’t really heard much about the film at all, I think I must have missed its theatrical run completely! Perhaps the lack of a big name star had something to do with this. Up until now Matt Damon had only really delved into supporting roles in the likes of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. So the question has to be asked - does Damon have the true makings of a Hollywood star or he is destined for TV movies from here on in? Read on…

Bourne Identity, The
Based on the International bestseller by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity casts Matt Damon as undercover spy and assassin Jason Bourne. The film opens well enough with the mysterious discovery of Bourne’s body in the Mediterranean Sea. The body shows only faint signs of life and closer inspection reveals why - two bullets embedded in the back. Although Bourne recovers from these injuries, over time he begins to realise that he is missing something rather important – his memory! It becomes apparent that if he is to save his life, he needs to rediscover his identity – and fast. Luckily; also embedded into his skin is a chip that reveals details of a Swiss bank safety deposit box in Zurich. Naturally Bourne sets off to Zurich in the hope of discovering more about his shady past…

I really don’t want to give away any more plot information than that because it is without a doubt the first hour that shows the most promise. Unfortunately, from there on in The Bourne Identity seems to lose its way. Performances from the leads are strong, particularly from the up and coming Matt Damon. I’ve only really encountered him before in the aforementioned Dogma in which he plays an Angel that has been kicked out of heaven. Luckily there are no such angelic qualities here and he portrays a somewhat confused assassin very convincingly. I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. The supporting cast are also strong with the Oscar winning Chris Cooper putting in a standout performance with the little material he had to work with. The other thing that I feel I should mention is the somewhat questionable performance from Franka Potente as Marie Kreutz. I have to admit I’m not really a fan of foreign films so no matter how great her performance may have been in Run Lola Run I still think she gives a pretty wooden performance here. I’m not sure whether it was the thick German accent that I couldn’t get my head around but something just didn’t feel right about her performance. Still, it shouldn’t be anything too distracting and it’s probably just me being fussy anyway!

Bourne Identity, The
The real problems with The Bourne Identity lie in the second half of the picture. Up until that point the film moves along at a break neck speed with plenty of action set pieces including an impressive car chase through the streets of Paris. However, almost immediately afterwards the pace takes a real tumble and the film becomes a rather tired and predictable affair. The closing ten to fifteen minutes are particularly bad with a seriously out of place action sequence involving a stairwell and a dead body. It has to be seen to be believed! Despite all this, The Bourne Identity is still well worth a watch. It is for the most part entertaining and it’s hard to slate a film that has a great little Mini Cooper racing around the streets, wreaking havoc ala The Italian Job.

Universal have again put together a stellar 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation for The Bourne Identity. Thankfully it is becoming increasingly hard to fault transfers these days but if I had to criticise something about the transfer it would be a small level of picture artefacts caused by compression. Certainly nothing to worry about though as you’d have to be looking extremely closely to notice them. Everything else about this transfer though is spot on. Skin tones and the like are reproduced perfectly and no noticeable edge enhancement is apparent. Overall, another solid Universal production.

All of you audiophiles out there will be happy to see another dose of dts provided on this release of The Bourne Identity courtesy of Universal. It seems that more and more distributors are seeing the benefits of a dts track and we can only encourage them to keep it up! The track itself unfortunately isn’t hugely impressive and again differs only slightly to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is also included. As Richard Schuchardt’s review of the disc has already pointed out though, the dts track edges it slightly because of a ‘more rounded and distinct’ sound.  Still, both tracks do the job asked of them with speech being clear and concise when needed.

Bourne Identity, The
A decent splattering of extras is included here. Kick starting them all is an audio commentary with director and producer Doug Liman. I’ve not seen any of Liman’s previous work (Go & Swingers) so I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this commentary. Considering he hasn’t had a huge amount of filmmaking experience I was pleasantly surprised with his attitude. He provides a very open and frank commentary though he does fall into the trap that so many directors do of calling all his actors ‘amazing’. I look forward to the day that a director uses his commentary to slate his cast and crew! If you liked the film though, this commentary is certainly worthy of a listen with plenty of interesting facts provided throughout.

Next up we have a selection of four deleted scenes, an alternate ending and an extended Farmhouse Scene. The deleted scenes are entitled Wombosi on the Private Jet, Bourne and Marie by the side of the Road, Psychologist Discusses Bourne and Bourne and Marie practice on Subway. Each of these scenes runs to around two minutes each. Unfortunately, none of the four are particularly memorable and the quality of the transfers on each would make VHS look futuristic! The Alternate Ending is much the same in that it’s pretty forgettable. It runs to two minutes and if you thought the ending of the theatrical version was cheesy then wait until you’ve seen this! Also, it makes the mistake of not using the Moby theme so I’m glad that the theatrical cut stayed as it is. Finally we have the Extended Farmhouse Scene. Why this wasn’t just added into the deleted scenes section is beyond me. The scene itself runs to just under a minute and provides a rather pointless extension to an already overlong scene.

Now onto the obligatory making of featurette, this time entitled 'The Birth of The Bourne Identity’. It runs to just under fifteen minutes, which is actually pretty generous for what’s really a run of the mill HBO type feature. It carries interviews with all of the main cast and crew including Matt Damon and the director Doug Liman. This won’t really be particularly interesting for those people that have already seen the film though as the interviews with the cast and crew only really summarise the storyline. Infact, that’s also a good reason not to watch it before you watch the film because the summary is reasonably thorough! Still, you might find something of interest here.

Bourne Identity, The
Next we have the Moby music video ‘Extreme Ways’. This three and a half minute video is presented in widescreen and is bound to get your feet tapping along if nothing else! The music video features plenty of action from the film as well as plenty of visuals of Moby dancing around like a fool. As with quite a few music videos for films these days, Moby is occasionally spliced into some of the actual film footage, which is a nice touch. All in all, a great little song and a nice addition to the DVD.

Completing the package is a selection of trailers and some DVD-ROM features. Firstly we have the theatrical trailer for The Bourne Identity which runs to just over two minutes and is presented in anamorphic widescreen. It’s a pretty decent trailer and carries the deep voiceover that we’ve all come to love! The next trailer is for the recent theatrical venture - Johnny English starring Rowan Atkinson. I’ve always been a fan of the wacky Mr Bean so it was a nice surprise to see this included. The final trailer included on the disc is for the up and coming Hollywood blockbuster The Hulk. This I believe is the teaser trailer and showcases some extremely dodgy CGI – can’t say I’m holding out too much hope for this one!

Bourne Identity, The
So there we have it. The Bourne Identity is a flawed yet entertaining thriller that starts off promisingly enough before fizzling out at the end. Matt Damon provides a solid performance throughout as Jason Bourne and I don’t think it’ll be too long before we see him again in a big Hollywood picture. Universal have also done the job well and have put together a pretty solid DVD with an exceptional transfer and a reasonably beefy soundtrack. Extras are the only disappointment here. The deleted scenes for example are of poor quality in both terms of content and presentation. Definately worth a rent at least, or even a purchase if you can pick it up on the cheap.