The Bourne Identity appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For the most part, the movie looked good, but a few concerns kept it from greatness.
For the most part, sharpness was strong. A few shots appeared slightly soft, but those occurred infrequently. Instead, the majority of the film seemed concise and well-defined. I noticed a few jagged edges as well as some noticeable shimmering on a few occasions. I also saw mild to moderate edge enhancement. Print flaws remained largely absent, as I noticed only a few specks.
As befit an edgy thriller, Identity presented a fairly stylized set of tones at times, and that palette meshed in with the more natural colors well. The DVD replicated the various visuals smoothly. The hues always came across as well rendered and rich. Blacks looked deep and firm, while low-light shots depicted the action cleanly and accurately. The edge enhancement created most of the disc’s concerns, and it was heavy enough to knock down my grade to a “B”.
Even better, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Bourne Identity nicely complemented the movie. The soundfield itself seemed solid. All five channels provided a lot of information through most of the movie. Music showed good stereo presence and separation and also used the surrounds neatly; for example, before Bourne came under attack in his flat, the rear speakers featured percussive music that added to the paranoid feeling. Effects blasted from all around us much of the time, especially during the action sequences. The front channels showed solid breadth and movement, while the surrounds kicked in a wealth of unique information that blended cleanly with the forward spectrum.
Audio quality seemed positive as well. Speech sounded natural and warm, and I noticed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music seemed clear and lively, as the techno-oriented score presented the right level of crunch and fuzz. Effects appeared distinct and accurate and packed a solid punch as well. The movie presented very solid dynamics, with clean highs and some powerful but tight bass. The soundtrack of Identity provided a fine complement for the action that accentuated the material.
When we head to the DVD’s extras, we start with The Bookend Scenes. This presents the movie’s “never-before-seen opening and alternate ending”. The area runs 10 minutes, 46 seconds in all and features an introduction from producer Frank Marshall, screenwriter Tony Gilroy and actor Brian Cox in addition to the scenes themselves. We learn of the genesis of these sequences and why they didn’t end up in the final flick. With that background, the snippets are interesting to see, especially in the way they would have changed the complexion of the story.
Next we find The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum, a five-minute and 44-second featurette. We learn about the novel’s author through interviews with editor Martin Greenberg, actor/friend James Karen, and Ludlum himself in an archival clip. We learn about his early career and late start as a novelist as well as his take on his subject material. It’s not a deep program, but it offers a decent overview of the writer’s career.
Called Access Granted, the next component presents a four-minute and three-second interview with screenwriter Tony Gilroy. He goes over adaptation issues and the factors he wanted to stress in the movie. It’s a fairly useful look at the subject, though it also suffers from its brevity.
Another featurette called From Identity to Supremacy: Jason and Marie runs three minutes, 37 seconds. We hear from actors Matt Damon and Franka Potente as they chat a little about their experiences on Identity and set up the sequel. It lacks depth and mostly comes across as a way to promote the next flick.
For a look at the concepts behind the film, we go to The Bourne Diagnosis. The three-minute and 26-second program includes comments from psychiatrist Dr. Reef Karim. He adds a quick examination of Bourne’s amnesia in this mildly informative piece.
Another background featurette comes via the five-minute and 31-second Cloak and Dagger: Covert Ops. We hear from CIA officer Chase Brandon as he talks about the agency’s set-up, the work of field operatives, and his thoughts about depiction of various elements in the film. As with its predecessors, this show remains superficial, but it gives us an enjoyable and concise piece.
Split into two areas, The Speed of Sound starts with a four-minute and four-second featurette. In it, supervising sound editor Per Hallberg, sound effects editor Chris Assells, dialogue and music re-recording mixer Scott Millan, and sound effects re-recording mixer Bob Beamer chat about their work, with a particular emphasis on the car chase sequence. From there, we get a chance to hear many of the different elements on their own and then watch the 57-second sequence in its final form. Unless I missed something, we don’t get the opportunity to create our own mix, but this still offers a nice look at the various elements that go into a big action scene.
Some deleted scenes show up in Declassified Information. We get four of these, and they run a total of six minutes, 58 seconds. These present clips that expand our understanding of existing situations but don’t bring out anything really new. The best one adds to the scene in which Jason entreats Marie to drive him to Paris; her choice makes more sense with this material included.
For another featurette, we find Inside a Fight Sequence. It runs four minutes and 43 seconds as we get a few comments from Damon about his training and working out the shots on the set. However, the primary attraction comes from the behind the scenes shots, as they let us see how things took place during the shoot. They make this a nice little clip.
A few minor bits round out the disc. We find a music video for Moby’s “Extreme Ways”. It mostly features the usual movie clip/lip-synch combination common for videos from films. Cast and Filmmakers includes listings for actors Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as well as writers Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron and director Doug Liman. These present short biographies as well as filmographies for most of the participants.
Production Notes give us some quick and basic information about a variety of elements, but don’t expect much from them. The DVD opens with a mix of previews. We find ads for Dawn of the Dead, Ned Kelly, and Magnum, PI. Surprisingly, we get no preview for The Bourne Supremacy, although that would seem like a natural addition. (The package includes a free ticket for that flick, though since it expires less than a month after this DVD hits the streets, it won’t have long-term usefulness.) Note that most of the video extras include subtitles in English, French and Spanish.
Since this new version of Identity represented my first screening of the film, I couldn’t compare picture and audio quality for the two DVDs, though I know the new one loses the original’s DTS track. As for differences in the extras, I checked other reviews and found that the prior disc presented the deleted scenes, alternate ending, music video, production notes, and cast and filmmaker entries that also appear here. In addition, it featured the movie’s trailer, a featurette called “The Birth of The Bourne Identity” and a commentary with director Doug Liman. I don’t miss the first two too much, but the absence of the latter is a real disappointment. I love commentaries and think it’s a shame this DVD doesn’t reprise the director’s chat.
When it showed theatrically in 2002, The Bourne Identity did little to entice me, which is why I didn’t see it until two years later. I’m glad I finally did, as the movie presents an intriguing and well-made variation on the standard spy flick. The DVD presents good but not great picture along with excellent audio. The extras seem somewhat superficial but they add a modicum of useful material.
I do like Identity enough to recommend it, so the question becomes which version to get. Really, it should come down to which one you can buy for the best value. That doesn’t necessarily mean lowest price; if you read this before the coupon expires, you can get a free ticket to The Bourne Supremacy, which could make this edition a good deal. Otherwise, base your choice on the better price, as I think it’ll otherwise be a toss-up between the two DVDs; there doesn’t seem to be anything that would clearly steer you in one direction or the other.