Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 8th, 2003
In 1988 Richard Chamberlin played the signature role of Jason Bourne in a made for TV adaptation of the classic novel The Bourne Identity. The show was a two-part pilot for a projected series that was never picked up. While the TV version might have been more faithful to the novel, the 2002 film with Matt Damon as Bourne effectively brings the spy yarn into the 21st century. Microfilm is replaced with a laser decoder and the awkward doctor is replaced with a more fitting female companion. Damon’s youth is both an asset and a liability. He certainly appears to be too young for such an accomplished assassin. Still Damon’s youthful energy brings the character to life in ways that a more seasoned actor could not. With obvious Bond elements and style, Jason has been re-Bourne for an audience with higher expectations.
Jason Bourne (Damon) is found floating at sea. With two bullets in his back, he has apparently been left for dead. While he manages to recover remarkably in body, he cannot remember who he is. A string of clues beginning with a Swiss bank account number surgically implanted in his hip lead him to discover he was an assassin for the CIA.
You will find a stellar DTS 5.1 as well as an equally impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 track on this disc. Separation is superb. Ambient sounds range from aggressive, during the numerous battles, to subtle when called for. The combination produces a very realistic experience. Highs are always clean. Lows possess power without overshadowing other finer aspects of the mix. Dialogue is mostly well defined; however, Franka Potente often speaks too softly to be fully understood.
There is a commentary track by Director Doug Limen. You’ll find a wealth of information here. He candidly discusses the earlier version of the film as well as the well known novel. He acknowledges his departures and does an excellent job of defending them.
The Bourne Identity is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. One of my first observations about this film was its cinematography. There is some very remarkable camera work on this film. Limen has a reputation of taking the camera himself to get what he wants and it paid off big in this film. Fortunately the transfer does this work justice. I found no noticeable artifacts or score marks. Colors were always consistent and accurate. There was some wonderful use of color filters in this film and the effect is reproduced perfectly here. I did manage to catch some shimmering particularly in the brighter exterior shots. Blacks are rich and deep. A fine print.
You will find four deleted scenes. Only one in which the CIA is getting a profile on Bourne would have been worth keeping in the film. An alternative ending is included. The ending used is far superior. Another extended scene is included that once again distracts more than it would have helped. Editors really do earn their money.
A 15-minute behind the scenes feature is more of a promo than it is informative.The trailer is included as is a music video of Mobey’s “Extreme Ways”. The common text based extras are all here, and the menus are interesting and easy to navigate.
Universal expects this to be a healthy franchise. Damon has already agreed to at least 2 more Bourne films. With the back story out of the way things could get very interesting. I haven’t read the other novels but am told they do get better. Expect to see more Bourne soon. Not bad for a “malfunctioning $30 million weapon”.