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Doug Liman
Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Gabriel Mann
Writing Credits:
Robert Ludlum (novel), Tony Gilroy, W. Blake Herron

When justice is blind, it knows no fear.

Academy Award® Winner Matt Damon stars in this explosive, action-packed hit filled with incredible fight sequences. Found with two bullets in his back, Jason Bourne discovers he has the skills of a very dangerous man and no memory of his violent past. Racing to unlock the secret of his own identity, he discovers the deadly truth: he's an elite government agent, a 20 million dollar weapon the government no longer trusts. Now this top operative is the government's number one target in this super-charged, thrill-a-minute spectacular loaded with "non-stop action!" (Bill Zwecker, FOX-TV)

Box Office:
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$27.118 million on 2638 screens.
Domestic Gross
$121.468 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 7/13/2004

• Never-Before-Seen Opening and Alternate Ending
• “The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum” Featurette
• “Access Granted” Interview with Screenwriter Tony Gilroy
• “From Identity to Supremacy: Jason and Marie” Featurette
• “The Bourne Diagnosis” Featurette
• “Cloak and Dagger: Covert Ops” Featurette
• “The Speed of Sound” Featurette and Demonstration
• “Declassified Information” Deleted Scenes
• Moby Music Video
• Production Notes
• Cast and Filmmakers
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Bourne Identity: Explosive Extended Edition (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 22, 2004)

Matt Damon doesn’t come to mind as the actor I’d cast as an expert assassin. However, he indeed took on that kind of role in 2002’s The Bourne Identity, a film that proved just successful enough to spawn a sequel with 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy.

A ship in the Mediterranean finds Jason Bourne (Damon) floating in the sea, apparently near death with bullets in his back. When the boat’s doctor pulls out the slugs, he finds an odd one that displays text. Bourne wakes up and goes a little nutso, as he also reveals he can’t remember much.

Bourne remains on the ship and helps out, but he grows frustrated as his memory fails to return. When the boat docks, he heads off on his own and goes to Switzerland, the location mentioned in the capsule’s text. There he discovers he possesses some surprising abilities.

In the meantime, we see the goings on at the CIA’s headquarters. African businessman Wombosi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) claims he survived a CIA assassination attempt and will write a book about the agency’s work in Africa. Director Abbott (Brian Cox) chats with chief Conklin (Chris Cooper) about a failed mission.

Back in Switzerland, Bourne checks out his box at the bank cited in the capsule. There he discovers his name plus a bunch of aliases and a gun as he quickly figures out that he led some sort of undercover life. He leaves, but his presence doesn’t go undetected, as authorities tail him. He slips into the US Embassy, where those forces also attempt to detain him. Bourne uses his skills to escape, and he bribes Marie (Franka Potente) to drive him to Paris.

While this occurs, the spooks back in Langley go ballistic over Bourne’s reappearance. They activate all sorts of operatives to go after Bourne, a list that includes “The Professor” (Clive Owen). Their mission? Have Bourne dead as soon as possible.

That nutshells your plot. For the rest of the film, Bourne attempts to learn about himself while he also gets to know sexy Marie. Oh, and he wants to stay alive and ahead of the assassins.

With a résumé that includes flicks like Go and Swingers, director Doug Liman seemed like an unusual choice to take on a big-time spy flick like Identity. However, that background worked well, as it meant that Liman could bring an unusual viewpoint to the scene. The film displays a mild edge that makes it a little different.

Not that one should expect some sort of reinvention of the genre, as Identity remains a fairly standard spy thriller. The usual elements emerge slowly as the lead character works his way toward some sort of resolution that will impact on a bigger picture. Unlike something such as the Jack Ryan flicks, however, Identity sticks with a more personal scope. For Bource, it’s really just about figuring out who he is.

That smaller scale makes Identity pleasing. It acts as a good introduction to the character and allows us greater scope for future flicks. In the DVD’s supplements, Damon claims that he didn’t think they’d make a sequel to Identity, but I don’t really believe him; given that it’s the first in a series of novels and that works so hard to set up various characters, it’d seem nonsensical for them not to produce more Bourne films.

Damon creates a surprisingly credible action hero. It helps that Jason is supposed to seem somewhat confused and befuddled during much of the movie, as it might be harder to accept Damon as a slick and confident killer from minute one. We get to watch him ease into his skills, and Damon makes the transition well. He also adds depth to the role as he tries to recover his identity, for we actually buy that his abilities surprise him.

Identity mainly seems tight and engaging. It presents good action scenes portrayed without too much muss or fuss. Liman doesn’t go overboard with these sequences, as he keeps them on an appealingly small scale. Events play out in a reasonably real-life dimension that makes them distinctive when compared to the usual enormous package of explosions and battles.

If I had to find flaws with The Bourne Identity, I’d say that it’s a little too low-key at times, and it also doesn’t give solid actors like Cox and Cooper much to do. Nonetheless, these remain fairly small negatives, as the overall package works well. I look forward to the sequel.

Note that this DVD includes what it calls the “Explosive Extended Edition” of The Bourne Identity. This presents new opening and closing scenes that I’ll detail when I get into the se’s supplements. However, unlike traditional longer cuts, it doesn’t cleanly integrate the extra footage. Instead, if you choose to watch the “EEE”, you’ll have to hit “enter” when I icon prompts you. This splits from the theatrical cut and shows the added sequences. They’re not anamorphic, so they might blend poorly for you, and their quality isn’t up to snuff either. The extra scenes work better as a piece watched separately than as a part of the whole movie.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4871 Stars Number of Votes: 39
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