The Bourne Identity (2002)


Introduction

The Bourne Identity is a 2002 American action thriller film based on Robert Ludlum’s novel of the same name.

It stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a man suffering from extreme memory loss and attempting to discover his true identity amidst a clandestine conspiracy within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The film also features Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles, Brian Cox, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

The first instalment in the Jason Bourne film series:it was followed by The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Bourne Legacy (2012), and Jason Bourne (2016).

Outline

In the Mediterranean Sea, Italian fishermen rescue an unconscious American floating adrift with two gunshot wounds in his back. They tend to his wounds, and when the man wakes, they find he suffers from dissociative amnesia. He has no memory of his own identity, but he retains his speech and finds himself capable of advanced combat skills and fluency in several languages. The skipper finds a tiny laser projector under the man’s hip that, when activated, gives the number of a safe deposit box in Zürich. Upon landing in Imperia, Italy, the American goes to the bank in Switzerland to investigate the deposit box. He finds it contains a large sum of money in various currencies, numerous passports and identity cards with his picture on all of them, and a handgun. The man takes everything but the gun, and leaves, opting to use the name on the American passport, Jason Bourne.

After Bourne’s departure, a bank employee contacts Operation Treadstone, a CIA black ops program. Treadstone’s head, Alexander Conklin, issues alerts to local police to capture Bourne and activates three agents to kill him: Castel, Manheim, and the Professor. Meanwhile, CIA Deputy Director Ward Abbott contacts Conklin about a failed assassination attempt against exiled African dictator Nykwana Wombosi. Conklin promises Abbott that he will deal with the Treadstone agent who failed.

Bourne tries to evade the Swiss police by using his US passport to enter the American consulate, but he is caught by guards. He evades capture, and escapes the consulate, offering a German woman, Marie Kreutz, $20,000 to drive him to an address in Paris listed on his French driving license. At the address, an apartment, he hits redial on the phone and reaches a hotel. He inquires about the names on his passports there, learning that a “John Michael Kane” had been registered but died two weeks prior in a car crash. Castel ambushes Bourne and Marie in the apartment, but Bourne gets the upper hand. Instead of allowing himself to be interrogated, Castel throws himself out of a window to his death. Marie finds wanted posters of Bourne and herself, and after agonising, agrees to continue to help Bourne. After a chase in which Bourne evades Paris police in Marie’s car, the two fugitives spend the night together in a Paris hotel.

Meanwhile, Wombosi continues to obsess over the attempt on his life. Conklin, having anticipated this, planted a body in Hoffenmein morgue, Paris to appear as the assailant, but Wombosi is not fooled and threatens to report this and other CIA secrets to the media. The Professor assassinates Wombosi on Conklin’s orders. Bourne, posing as Kane, learns about Wombosi’s yacht, and that the assailant was shot twice in the back during the escape; he realizes that he was the assailant. He and Marie take refuge at the French countryside home of her old friend Eamon and his children. Under pressure from Abbott to tie off the Wombosi matter entirely, Conklin tracks Bourne’s location and sends the Professor there, but Bourne shoots him twice with Eamon’s shotgun, mortally wounding him. The Professor reveals their shared connection to Treadstone before dying. Bourne sends Marie, Eamon, and Eamon’s children away for their protection, and then contacts Conklin via the Professor’s phone. Conklin agrees to meet Bourne, alone, in Paris. From a rooftop near the arranged location Bourne sees Conklin has not come alone, so he abandons the meeting, but uses the opportunity to place a tracking device on Conklin’s car, leading Bourne to Treadstone’s safe house in Paris.

Bourne breaks in and holds Conklin and logistics technician Nicolette “Nicky” Parsons at gunpoint. Bourne and Conklin’s conversation at the safe house clears much of the mystery. Bourne asks, “Who am I?”, to which Conklin replies, “You’re US government property. You’re a malfunctioning $30 million weapon! You are a total goddamn catastrophe!”

When Conklin begins pressing him to remember his past, Bourne recalls his attempt to assassinate Wombosi through successive flashbacks. As Kane, and working under orders from Treadstone, Bourne infiltrated Wombosi’s yacht and was able to get close enough to assassinate him. However, Bourne is unable to kill Wombosi while his children were present, and instead fled, being shot during his escape. Bourne announces he is resigning from Treadstone and is not to be followed. As agents descend on the safe house, Bourne fights his way free. When Conklin leaves the safe house, he encounters Manheim, who kills him under Abbott’s orders. Abbott then shuts down Treadstone.

Abbott reports to an oversight committee that Treadstone is “all but decommissioned” before discussion turns to a new project codenamed “Blackbriar”. In the final scene, Bourne finds Marie renting out scooters to tourists on Mykonos, and the two reunite.

Cast

  • Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.
  • Franka Potente as Marie Kreutz.
  • Chris Cooper as Alexander Conklin.
  • Clive Owen as The Professor.
  • Brian Cox as Ward Abbott.
  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Nykwana Wombosi.
  • Gabriel Mann as Danny Zorn.
  • Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons.
  • Orso Maria Guerrini as Giancarlo.
  • Tim Dutton as Eamon.
  • Nicky Naude as Castel.
  • Russell Levy as Manheim.
  • Vincent Franklin as Rawlins.

Bourne Films

You can find a full index of Treadstone (TV Series) here.

You can find a full index and overview of the Bourne Franchise here.

Trivia

  • Liman approached a wide range of actors for the role of Bourne, including Brad Pitt, who turned it down to star in Spy Game (2001), as well as Russell Crowe, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone, before he eventually cast Damon.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Doug Liman.
  • Producer(s): Doug Liman, Patrick Crowley, and Richard N. Gladstein.
    Writer(s): Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron.
  • Music: John Powell.
  • Cinematography: Oliver Wood.
  • Editor(s): Saar Klein.
  • Production: Hypnotic and The Kennedy/Marshall Company.
  • Distributor(s): Universal Pictures.
  • Release Date: 14 June 2002.
  • Running Time: 119 minutes.
  • Country: US and Germany.
  • Language: English.

 

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