Movie Title: The Bourne Identity
Director: Doug Liman
Date Released: June 14th, 2002
Date Seen: Forever ago… but again for a refresher July 15th, 2012
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
A great movie. I think one of Matt Damon’s best. It’s action packed, while not being just a giant action shit storm like some movies are. There’s lots of character and plot development. The whole movie is centered around Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) who wakes up after being shot, unsure of who he is. So the movie follows Bourne trying to figure out who he is – and it just happens to be an assassin, who failed at his last mission. That causes some serious problems, now doesn’t it? It’s fun to wonder who Jason really is, who the good/bad guys really are, etc. right along with him. At the end of the movie you feel satisfied to end there – or are free to move on to the sequels (which I recall being not as good as this one). So I highly recommend it.
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review
The movie begins with some fishermen, who sounded Portuguese to me, finding a man floating in the middle of the ocean during a storm. They pull up the body and discover that it is alive. They take him downstairs and the doctor ish one starts to check his vitals… and notices that the man has been shot twice in the back. He pulls out the bullets, stitches up the wounds, and also finds a tiny device in the mans neck. The device, when pointed at a flat surface, reads the name of a bank and an account number. The man later wakes up and is completely unsure of who he is. He spends the next 2 or 3 weeks on the boat with the fishermen, helping out, and trying to figure out who he is. He discovers he is awesome at some things, like languages, tying knots, etc. Weird skills. When they land, the doctor man gives him enough cash to get to the bank, in Zurich. Bourne makes his way to Zurich, but it is too late to go to the bank. He goes to sleep on a park bench and gets awoken by two officers. They start to ask him who he is, and when he says he doesn’t have ID, they start to arrest him… and Bourne knocks them out. He picks up their gun and looks at it with disgust and then throws it downs and runs away.
At various parts of the movie we get scenes that are happening in the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virgina. At this point this particular team, led by Conklin (Chris Cooper), learns that “the mission has failed”. We see Conklin look down at a picture of a boat. The next day we see a whole CIA director meeting where they are talking about how yesterday, a dictator, Wombosi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) claims he was almost assassinated. The guy in charge demands to know if anyone in the room knows anything about it, because Wombosi claims that the USA tried to assassinate him. After the meeting, Ward Abbott (Brian Cox), goes down to talk to Conklin asking about the “Treadstone” project and wanting to know if the assassination attempt had to do with that project. Conklin skirts the issue for a while and finally admits that yes, they tried, but a problem occurred and they lost communication with their man. Conklin says he’s working on it.
Bourne goes into the bank when it opens, and gives his account number. They take him up to what looks like a very exclusive floor as it requires a hand print to get in. They take him to a private room and bring out a huge safety deposit box. In the top of it, he finds some contacts, a watch, a bit of money, and a passport for Jason Bourne. He finds an address card saying that he currently lives in Paris. He then looks further into the box, and finds about 10 different passports with various names and countries, but all with his picture. He also finds TONS of money, in various types of currency. There is also a gun. He empties the safety deposit box taking everything except for the gun. As he leaves, he asks when the last time he was there – about 3 weeks. We also see a man in the bank make a phone call… hmm. He starts leaving, and walks by some cops who stare at him…. he rounds a corner, goes a weird way, and notices that the two cops are following him. Then he hears many police cars coming. He sees the American embassy and so he walks in to get away from the police.
At the Embassy while waiting in line, he sees a woman, Marie (Franka Potente) trying to get a visa but having some serious issues. He also starts to notice the security guards looking at him. As Bourne starts to leave they yell at him to stop – then there’s a nice fight to get away in the embassy that is good to watch. Bourne is amazed at some of the skills that just seem to come naturally, like scaling the side of the embassy building, fight skills, etc.
He gets away, and outside he sees Marie. She is clearly having a rough time and Bourne offers her $10,000 to take him to Paris. And promises another $10,000 once they get there. She is confused but really needs the money and after some prodding she agrees and they go off.
Back at the CIA – They are looking at the security footage from the bank. The guy that made the phone call in the bank was a CIA contact. They find out that he also tore up the American embassy…. so, Conklin issues a kill order on Bourne. There is then a cool scene of watching each of the agents get “activated”… ie they receive a phone call alerting them to where they need to be. It’s cool seeing what each one is doing in their spare time. The Professor (Clive Owen) is in Barcelona giving a music lesson. Manheim (Ruseel Levy) is at a business meeting in Hamburg. Castel (Nicky Naude) is riding his motorcycle in Rome. To me the whole scene was very James Bond-ish. The CIA also starts looking into Marie – they think that Bourne must be going with her, specifically, for a reason.
On the car ride, Marie won’t shut up because she is nervous. She is literally telling Jason her life story – about how she tried to open a surf shop, they got scammed, lost their money, etc. She tries to get Jason to tell him about himself… and he finally reveals that he doesn’t know who he is. She is very skeptical but accepts it. At a roadstop diner he shows Marie all his money and passports. He is confused, and he is confused. But she decides that she can trust him.. for now. They finish the drive to Paris. The next morning they find the house where Bourne supposedly lives. Marie decides to continue on with Jason for a while. They go in, and get recognized by the landlady. So clearly he does live there. They start looking over the apartment – Jason hits redial on the phone and it directs him to a hotel in Paris. He asks about if they have a Jason Bourne – they say no. Then he asks about John Michael Kane (the name on another passport in his bag). The manager of the hotel informs Jason that Mr. Kane passed away about two weeks ago in an accident. Marie is chilling in the bathroom, brushing her teeth and stuff, and Jason’s spidey-senses start tingling and so he is walking around with a knife trying to find out what is going on, without scaring Marie. Then, in swoops Castel trying to kill Jason. They fight, pretty quickly, and Jason has the upper-hand. He starts trying to get Castel to tell him who sent him, but Castel jumps out of a window rather than be tortured. Marie and Jason get out of there quick. They find the land lady dead downstairs and they high-tail it out of there.
We see Conklin talking to Nicolette (Julia Stiles) and telling her to clean up the mess that was caused. Nicolette appears to be the CIA-Paris liaison. She is the head of the operations there, gives out duties to the assassins, made the wanted posters for Bourne and Marie, etc. She tells Conklin that it is going to be hard since there’s a dead body in the street.
We see Jason leave Marie in the car while he goes in and checks the train station. We see Marie sitting in the car, looking at the money. For a moment, you are very unsure of what she is going to do. When Jason comes back out to the car, Marie isn’t there. He panics for a moment then Marie comes out of a store with a bag. She said she just needed a drink. Jason tells her that he wants her to leave, go to the police, and tell them everything that happened. She says no, that she’s staying. About that time, a number of police show up. Jason says “last chance…” and Marie puts on her seat belt, revealing that she is going to stay with Jason. They speed off and there’s a nice high speed chase in a tiny little car. It is a pretty good chase, because it’s through city streets, back alleys, side walks, etc. I enjoyed it. They get away, dump the car (clean it out as well), and head to a hotel to rest.
Now we see Wombasi heading into a morgue to check out a body – the body that the CIA planted there to be the body of Michael Kane. It’s not the body, obviously, and Wombasi knows it. He checks it and sees that the body was not shot. So he knows they are hiding something and is all pissed off. Conklin starts wondering about what his next move should be…. he decides to send the Professor to send Wombasi. So a little bit later, in another scene, we see the Professor kill Wombasi. I found that plot line unnecessary – I mean, it was necessary to know about the failed mission, but whatever, didn’t care to see Wombasi get killed.
At the hotel, they dye Marie’s hair black and color it. And then we get a nice hot scene between Jason and Marie. Yes please. It’s short but nice. The next morning when Marie wakes up, Jason has already cleaned the room and wiped it for fingerprints so that they can leave. They head to the hotel where Michael Kane was staying – Jason wants the bill to the room. So he tells Marie exactly what to do – to go in, count steps, count the number of workers, security, etc. Jason starts to call the hotel – like their plan… but she never answers. Marie shows up at the phone booth – and reveals that she just went up to the desk, said she was Mr. Kane’s assistant, and the guy made her a copy of the bill. Jason is amazed it was that simple.
Back at the CIA – Abbott is pissed, because he’s found out that Wombasi was just assassinated. He goes to Conklin who says that “it was Bourne, he must have felt since he failed the mission he has to complete it…” (so he is straight up lying to Abbot). Conklin tells Abbott that he thinks now Bourne will contact him. Hmmm no. Around this time, the Paris police find Marie’s car. They can’t find any fingerprints in it, further proving Bourne is awesome. Nicolette overhears this on the police scanner and sends word to the CIA.
Jason spends the day calling everywhere that Michael Kane had called – only one of them is in Paris. Turns out, it’s a boat-buying place. Everyone there recognizes him as Mr. Kane – he finds out that Mr. Kane was “looking into buying” some boat. He gets the brochure for the place and looks at it. While he does that, Marie finds out that Mr. Kane is in a morgue. So they decide to go there. They go to the morgue, pay off a guy to let them see the body, but it’s not there. The boss man comes in and makes them leave – but not before Jason rips out the visitor log for the day before. He finds a name, Wombasi – and notices that Wombasi was also in the boat brochure. So he thinks Wombasi must have something to do with it – he goes to where Wombasi lives and sees all the police around it. Bourne is clearly devastated. Then he starts reading the paper and sees the note that says Wombasi said he was almost assassinated about 2 weeks ago – Bourne realizes that it was he, himself, that tried to do it. He tells Marie this and he is freaking out that he is an assassin. They start to head back to the hotel but notice a bunch of police heading there – he makes the cab stop, and let them out, because the police have found the hotel. They walk away, and Marie starts freaking out – Jason tries to keep her calm – but she clearly wants to leave. Jason says that he will take her ANYWHERE and then leave her alone if that’s what she wants.
Back at the CIA, they decide to start looking in-depth at where Marie has ever lived to try to find Bourne. Abbott is giving Conklin shit for not having Bourne back yet, and Conklin is kind of douchey back to him. They decide to focus on all the places Marie has ever lived, thinking that that is where she will go.
Marie and Bourne head to her old friend Eamon (Tim Dutton)’s house. Thinking he isn’t there, they go in – only to see Christmas lights on the tree and presents. Right about then Eamon pulls up with his two kids and dog. He is kind of upset that they just broke in, but lets them stay for the night. At night, Bourne can’t sleep so he goes and watches the kids – he is clearly afraid of anything at all happening to them. The next morning, they get up and are ready to leave as the kids are playing outside and the dad is eating breakfast. The kids come in saying that they can’t find the dog and Jason says to “get in the basement”. He knows that the dog is dead – because a live dog would bark at any intruder. They go and hide while Jason finds a shotgun in the house. He shoots at the gas container outside, it blows up, allowing him some cover. Turns out, The Professor had a sniper rifle turned on the house. So we see a nice chase between Jason and the Professor. The Professor ends up losing, obviously, but does mention “Treadstone”. Jason takes all his stuff, goes back to the house, and sends Marie off with Eamon. He leaves her all the money except for what he needs and tells her to start a new life, any life.
In the Professor’s stuff, Jason finds a cell phone. He hits redial. Nicolette, Conklin, and Abbott all listen in. An assistant asks him to “code in”. Jason asks who he is. Conklin thinks that Bourne is screwing with him – while Jason is just trying to figure out who they are. Conklin asks to talk to Marie – and Jason says that she is dead. He tells Conklin to meet him in Paris, on a bridge, and come alone. Then he hangs up. Conklin goes.
Obviously, Conklin is not alone. So Jason calls him, says “I told you to come alone!” and hangs up. But Jason does put a tracking device on the vehicle they were using. The tracking device leads him to the safe house thing that Nicolette was in charge of. They are going there to clean the place up and get rid of everything. We also see Manheim get a phone call, and then later picking up some type of keys for the job… hmmmm… Jason watches the house until nightfall – and when he has a chance, he creates a distraction and slips past the guards outside. He comes into the apartment and starts threatening Conklin. He wants to know who he is, Conklin still thinks he’s fucking with him, and Conklin keeps asking why the mission failed. Then Conklin starts to tell Jason how it was all his (Jason’s) idea how to kill Wombasi without anyone knowing who did it (because that is what Jason is good at). Finally, Jason remembers what happened. As he went in to kill Wombasi, he was surrounded by 3 of his sleeping children with one young girl sitting on his chest looking up at him. He couldn’t do it and that’s how he got shot. He punches Conklin out (and never does anything to Nicolette – who seemed to realize the most that Jason honestly didn’t remember anything) and then the men from outside break in. There is another awesome little fight that at one point involves Jason throwing one body off the top of the staircase, while he holds on to it, then shoots a guy in the head on the way down, and lands on the body. It was fabulous. It was also definitely the crappiest unrealistic scene, but that’s ok. Jason gets away – and we see Conklin come staggering down the stairs. At the same time, we see Manheim putting a silencer on his gun. We see a shadow walk out. We think he’s about to kill Jason – but no, Manheim kills Conklin. We flash back to the CIA – Abbott had Conklin killed because he was causing too many problems.
Abbot tells the director of the CIA that all this resulted as a terminated operation called Treadstone, but it’s all over now. They accept it quickly and move on. Then we see Marie, on some Greek Island, running a surf shop… and who shows up at her door? Jason, of course. The end 🙂
Alternate ending: We see Abbott in a hotel room… with Jason. He reveals that he had Jason drugged until he could arrive. He says he’s an “old friend”…. and that they found Marie, but she’s fine and has no idea that they’re watching her. Abbott asks Jason a question. He says that Conklin was the “right monster at the wrong time, and sometimes, we need a monster”. Abbott gets up to leave, and leaves Jason a phone number – saying that he would be able to come and go as he please if he came back and worked for the CIA again…. but if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. Whatever. Abbott also says “if you hurry, you might be able to catch Marie before she leaves”…. Jason heads out, walking by a bunch of the CIA team and heads to the surf shop. We see a similar scene of Marie getting ready to close up shop – and then Jason walking down the beach towards her and then some hot kisses.
I like the real ending better, so I’m glad they picked it.
Fantastic movie, lots of twists and turns, action, a teeny tiny bit of romance (just enough), some more action, and a lot of mystery. Great.