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A body is picked out of the Mediterranean one wet night by the crew of an Italian fishing boat, near death. He (Matt Damon) clings on to life, but his brain has not clung on to his identity. He carries nothing except a couple of bullets in his back and a Swiss bank account number embedded in a chip in his hip. He realises that he possesses extraordinary talents in self-defence, weapons and languages. When he opens the safe deposit box in Zurich, he discovers a handful of forged passports, a bundle of cash, a weapon and his name: Jason Bourne. Or is it? After a dangerous incident in Zurich, he hooks up with German-born Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) a traveller down on her luck and short of cash. He offers her US$20,000 to drive him to Paris, to the only fixed address he has found that seemingly relates to his life. But things just get even more complicated, difficult and dangerous.

Review by Louise Keller:
I can't remember when I have enjoyed an action thriller more. Everything works. Robert Ludlum's intriguing story is translated into a superb screenplay, filled with intelligence and spellbinding tension. The action starts as John Powell's lively, frenetic score gives our hearts a kick-start and we are literally thrown into the deep end, as a body is fished out of a stormy ocean.

The plot and storyline is relentless, yet like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces take time to form any kind of sense. Filled with gripping moments and enough heat to make a kettle boil, The Bourne Identity is the best thriller this year. Matt Damon is superb as Jason Bourne, whose loss of memory becomes less disturbing than the revelations he discovers about himself.

Damon is super fit and a credible protagonist, combining an appealing vulnerability with an chilling automated response action that brands him as a killing machine. In a case of wonderful casting, Franka Potente is perfect as Marie, whose reactions in the first instances of crisis mirrors our own - stunned disbelief and inability to function. Chris Cooper (October Sky, American Beauty) makes great impact here, as does Clive Owen in a small but beguiling role. I also like Julia Stiles' Nicolette, who always retains a touch of mystery.

Paris is portrayed as an integral character: from the identifying aerial day and night shots into the backstreets, on the distinctive Pont Neuf and in a spectacular car chase to rival that in Ronin, when a little red mini zips through the narrow streets, cobbled lanes and over sidewalks. Doug Liman has embraced the European sensibilities of the project, never compromising the credibility of the locations and the actors speaking in the relevant native tongues (with sub-titles) as applicable, brings gravitas. But all the locations are spectacular - Prague (doubling for Zurich) with its breathtaking wintry white vistas and the fabulous coast of Spain, where the crisp waves crash freely on its shores.

The Bourne Identity delivers everything you ask for in a thriller - nail-biting suspense, awe-inspiring stunts, terrifying moments and a resolution as satisfying as the film itself.

Special Features by Craig Miller:
The producers of The Bourne Identity: Explosive Extended Edition DVD had a wonderful opportunity to release a knock-out package for this highly enjoyable movie, but unfortunately what is delivered is far from inspiring. Instead of a comprehensive release, what we get here is another "assortment" DVD that takes advantage of some extended footage that, contrary to the release title, isn't that explosive.

The all-new beginning and alternate ending, complete with introduction, act as bookends to the film and serve to make the entire movie a flashback, which does seem a bit of a stretch and, really, the footage doesn't offer anything much to the overall story.

There are plenty of short featurettes that provide behind-the-scenes looks at the movie, but only a couple really go anywhere, the best being a chat with C.I.A. Officer Chase Brandon, and a brief overview on Robert Ludlum, author of The Bourne Identity novel.

But perhaps the biggest shock about this disc is not what is included, but the notable exclusion of material that appeared on the original 2003 Bourne Identity DVD, namely the commentary from director Doug Liman, a making-of featurette, an extended farmhouse scene and the boomin' DTS soundtrack. Put the two releases together and you would have had a cracking two-disc set with the works, but half-ass it like they've done here, and what you've got is just another DVD aimed at cashing in on the hype of a sequel and separating you from your money.

Published September 16, 2004

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CAST: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Julia Stiles

DIRECTOR: Doug Liman

SCRIPT: Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron (based on the novel by Robert Ludlum)

RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 2.45:1, Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Alternate Beginning and Ending with Introduction, Featurettes: The Bourne Mastermind - Robert Ludlum, Access Granted - An Interview with screenwriter Tony Gilroy, From Identity to Supremacy - Jason and Marie, The Bourne Diagnosis, The Speed of Sound, Cloak and Dagger - Covert Ops, Inside a Fight Sequence, Deleted Scenes, Cast and Filmmakers bios, Trailer.


DVD RELEASE: September 15, 2004

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