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The Bourne Identity

The Bourne Identity\
2002's The Bourne Identity is an action filled nail-biter with an unconventional hook that so grabbed audience imaginations that it has inspired four sequels (so far).

The story opens with a man (Matt Damon) being fished out of water by fishing boat en route to Switzerland. The man is full of bullet holes and doesn't remember who he is. Dropped off in Switzerland, he takes the few clues he has which lead him to a safety deposit box that contains large amounts of currency from different countries and five passports all with the man's photo...four say his name is Jason Bourne and one says his name John Matthew Kane. He learns that Bourne has an apartment in Paris which leads to the reveal that Bourne is a professional assassin who failed his most recent assignment and now his bosses want him dead. In Switzerland, Jason meets a young woman who he offers $20,000 for a ride to Pairs and it's not long before this young woman is in just as much danger as Bourne is.

Screenwriters Tony Gilroy (Nightcrawler) and W. Blake Herron (Role Models) have crafted a first rate action thriller that earns its credentials by giving the central character amnesia and even that reveal isn't approached in the usual fashion. Most of the times when we see fictional amnesiacs, they're lying in a bed whining about how they can't remember anything...Jason Bourne's initial reaction to his predicament is pure anger and it rings completely true. The story also earns originality points because in trying to figure out who he is and what happens to him, Bourne assumes nothing and lets the story of who he is build around him, courtesy of this mystery agency that he works for, who have him on their radar once he reaches Paris.

I was initially bothered by the fact that we never really learn exactly what agency Bourne works for but once, Bourne's original target is eliminated, it really becomes irrelevant and we're completely caught up in the cat and mouse game of Jason trying to remember what happened to him and this agency trying to make him forget. I loved the moments where he initially learns that he's an expert in self-defense or when he realizes he speaks multiple languages...he's a little bamboozled but doesn't make any assumptions and just uses his newfound tools to keep his eye on the prize. The prize does find Bourne leaving a lot of bodies in his wake, which should be addressed, thus the four sequels.

Director Doug Liman does such an excellent job of mounting this international spy thriller that we forgive the small plot holes and enjoy the ride. Damon brings the same strength and vulnerability to this character that he did to his character in The Martian. Jason Bourne is slick and likable and we can't wait to see what's going to happen to him next.