The Bourne Identity (Liman, 2002)

There’s not a wasted moment in this character driven action film, each scene calculated to increasingly reveal Jason Bourne as a man, a weapon, and symbol of a covert and meddling American foreign policy. This origin story for the soon to be threequel glides along at a crisp pace, establishing Bourne and his evolving world juxtaposed with the frantic and deadly reactions from his D.C. employers. Doug Liman, who seems to have been forgotten by the critical community after Paul Greengrass took over for the second installment, directs this film with a sharp eye for fluidity, mixing some incredible camera movements with a dynamic score painting a fascinating aesthetic picture of Bourne. We get a magnetic taste of the power Bourne can wield, but never a revelation. To hold out information about it’s hero and gradually reveal is stunning for a mainstream Hollywood film and this decision has obviously paid off with the success of the series as a whole. Jason Bourne remains such a fascinating character because his identity becomes shrouded in the fear of revealing a dark, dangerous and brutal past which doesn’t fit with the typical, heroic mold. The Bourne Identity explores this tension between good and evil beautifully, emphasizing the humanity clawing toward the surface of a body and mind programmed to kill.

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