The Bourne Identity (2002)
Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles
Directed By: Doug Liman
So the heat-less, three year old movie beats out some recent comics and albums in the poll. I think that tells us what we need to know about the media preferences of this community. Although, to be fair, this isn't just any three year old movie; instead, it happens to be one of the coolest action flicks to come out in years.
Before I get further into this review, I need to preface it with two things: A) I've never read the books on which it is based, and B) I've never seen the 1988 Richard Chamberlain TV movie based on the book either. So you'll hear no opinion by me on how faithful it was to Robert Ludlum's novel, nor how it compares to the last adaptation. If you have hang-ups over either issue, then this isn't the review for you.
Instead, I went into the movie knowing little more about the back-story than the fact that it involved some spy stuff. I left the movie duly impressed and completely entertained. I've seen it several times since, and my appreciation for it has only grown. It is a cerebral action blockbuster (or, at least, more cerebral than your average action blockbuster), with great fight scenes, a fantastic chase scene, excellent on-screen chemistry between the two leads, exotic locations, and a fun concept. Basically, its the best spy film I've seen in years, and far better than anything the Bond franchise has been able to muster in a long time.
A strength of this film is the talent involved. The cast all bring the necessary amount of acting pedigree to their roles, with Matt Damon perfectly filling the role of Jason Bourne, a highly-trained assassin who has no memory of his past life or why he can seemingly do the impossible. He is completely believable as a perfect killer, and brought a measured amount of menace and heft to the role. His co-star, Franka Potente, was an excellent choice as the romantic lead for Damon, with her exotic looks giving the role a different flavour than the average Bond girl. Their chemistry is as obvious as it is effortless, giving Bourne a sense of humanity that he might not otherwise have without his connection to her. Maverick director Doug Liman imbues the movie with an energy other blockbusters lack, mixing in the proper amount of slickness and depth. His indie background and guerrilla film-making past led to some really interesting and exciting shots, giving the film a unique enough feel to make the audience forget that its a story that we've seen before. Many times.
I'm not generally that big a fan of the action genre, not because I don't like excitement, but because I don't like my intelligence insulted. I don't believe one should have to put their brains on hold to enjoy a movie, action flick or not. With The Bourne Identity, I don't have to worry about that dilemma, because its good enough for both sides of my brain. Easily one of the best big movies of the past few years.