Actor Matt Damon, ever since his big burst into our homes via 1997â€™s Good Will Hunting, has always been a gem of an actor for myself. The man, quite possibly, hasnâ€™t really made a bad film.. In his second trilogy (the first being the Ocean films), Damon plays Jason Bourne, a former government agent whose running all over the place trying to figure out why the government wants to kill him. And the fact that he has amnesia doesnâ€™t help one bit either.
An obvious comparison to this film and James Bond has been made numerous times. And that, in all honesty, is a major disservice to this film. Sure the Bond films are classics in their own right, but the last few (with the exception of Brosnanâ€™s Goldeneye and the most recent Casino Royale), havenâ€™t fared all that well. The Bourne series, on the other hand, are crafty, cunning and skillful knowing that they donâ€™t need to include over-the-top stunts or sequences that donâ€™t seem overly plausible. This film plays out like the domino effect with each sequence revealing a new part of Bourneâ€™s past. Only the film rarely falters in its explanation or story continuance. And the fact that Ludlum is known by pretty much ever adult around (I knowâ€¦ so is Fleming), adds a more interesting appeal to this film.
The two films that have so far been created are based on the best selling novels by the excellent Robert Ludlum. A majority of his mystery type novels have enthralled readers for quite sometime. The characters he presents in all of his novels, particular the Bourne novels, are perfect for an actor like Matt Damon who brings Bourne to the screen with a subtle tone of intensity and ferociousness. Bourne is his quiet self when he is alone, but can become an immediate super psycho guy in a matter of seconds. Damon is able to convey all of these emotions that are necessary for a man who had lost his mind at one point in his life.
The success of this film, the second and Iâ€™m sure the film, has definitely given the series a new life. Of course Ludlumâ€™s novels were popular up to his death (2001), but whenever a film is made thatâ€™s based off a book, the popularity of the source canâ€™t help but go up as fans and those curious viewers want to see what was left out of the final product. Even though The Bourne Supremacy is one of those rare sequels thatâ€™s better than the first, The Bourne Identity is still one hell of a fun ride that anyone can enjoy, regardless if youâ€™re a fan of Damon or of action thrillers.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 2:35:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, The Bourne Identity boasts a transfer just like itâ€™s sequel (read.. itâ€™s great).
Considering that the film is only 5 years old, the print is in remarkable condition, with numerous sequences having that real hi-def look to them. Colors are spot on for the most part (even though they looked somewhat washed out during some of the darker sequences), and grain is pretty much absent. Even though the sequence is quite short, I loved the aerial shot where Bourne is heading to Paris. All you see is the snow-covered trees, but what a sight it is! Lastly detail is impressive with a few shots (particularly the car chase) boasting real depth and clarity. All in all, this was a great transfer.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, it would have been nice if Universal had thrown a TrueHD track on this disc (especially with the recent announcement of many upcoming titles boasting this track). Despite that, the including Plus 5.1 track was great giving us a real spy atmosphere.
Dialogue was always intelligible, never becoming distorted. Surround usage, as we might expect, was active (I particularly enjoyed the activity of the rears and the discrete effects during the chase sequences and the sequence where Bourne fights off the guards toward the beginning). Dynamic Range, as briefly noted, was great with crystal clear effects. Bass as well was effective, adding that extra oomph in the room. The only real negative here is that the audio can tend to become a bit quiet during the slower sequences. Besides this, the Plus 5.1 track was great.
- Audio Commentary with director Doug Liman: This commentary with Liman was informative and great fun as he took us through every little aspect of the film.
- Documentary: Containing three different parts and running nearly 40 minutes in length, this was the best feature available on the disc. Fans of the books and films will definitely appreciate the in-depth look into how the Ludlum estate dealt with the films, watching closely to make sure Ludlumâ€™s ideas were presented in the films.
- Deleted Scenes: With 7 minutes of deleted scenes, the filmâ€™s characters (particularly Bourne and Marie) are improved a bit with more emphasis on personality. We also get a bit of information on Bourne via a scene with his psychologist. We also get an Alternate Ending that was forgettable.
- The Birth of The Bourne Identity: Running 14 minutes in length, this feature has a few interviews with producers, screenwriters and actors.
- The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum: This one serves as a late tribute to the great Robert Ludlum via his close friends Martin Greenberg and actor James Karen.
- Cloak and Dagger: Covert OPS: Running 6 minutes in length, this one gives us a bit of insight into the history of the CIA.
- Inside a Fight Sequence: At 5 minutes in length, this one briefly covers the big fight sequence.
- From Identity to Supremacy: Jason & Marie: Despite being rather short in length (5 minutes), this one has a few interesting thoughts from Damon and Potente on their characters.
- Access Granted: An Interview with Screenwriter Tony Gilroy: At 4 minutes in length, this one has Gilroy explain how he adapted Ludlumâ€™s book into a script for the big screen.
- The Speed of Sound: Running 4 minutes in length, this one shows us the filmâ€™s sound work via a few interviews with the sound designers.
- The Bourne Diagnosis: At 3 minutes in length, this features has UCLA psychiatrist Reef Karim mention that the filmâ€™s idea of amnesia seems a bit off from real amnesia.
- HD DVD Exclusives
- Picture-In-Picture: Running sort of akin to the above audio commentary, this picture-in-picture feature runs feature length with the film giving us information about the cast and crew and a few sets. Director Doug Liman does a majority of the speaking here with the other stars popping in here and there. Considering the interest I had in the film, I found myself enjoying this one quite a bit.
- The Treadstone Files: This U-Control feature pops up occasionally giving us information on 9 different characters from the film. If you ever wanted to know more about the main characters in the film, Universal has put together a highly informative piece here.
While I didnâ€™t enjoy The Bourne Identity as much the second time around, I canâ€™t help but recommend this HD DVD release. With fine picture and audio and all the existing features plus a few new ones, this one comes recommended for fans of the film and spy thrillers.