The Bourne Identity

The Bourne Identity Information

The Bourne Identity is a 2002 American-German action spy film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novel of the same name. It stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, suffering from extreme memory loss, 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, Brian Cox and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. This, the first in the Bourne film series, is followed by The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and The Bourne Legacy (2012).

The film was directed by Doug Liman and adapted for the screen by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron. Although Robert Ludlum died in 2001, he is credited as the film's producer alongside Frank Marshall. Universal Pictures released the film to theatres in the United States on June 14, 2002, and it received a positive critical and public reaction.


In the Mediterranean Sea near Marseille, Italian fishermen rescue an unconscious man floating adrift with two gunshot wounds in his back. The boat's medic finds a tiny laser projector surgically implanted under the unknown man's skin at the level of the hip. When activated, the laser projector displays the number of a safe deposit box in Zürich. The man wakes up and discovers he is suffering from extreme memory loss. Over the next few days on the ship, the man finds he is fluent in several languages and has unusual skills, but cannot remember anything about himself or why he was in the sea. When the ship docks, he sets off to investigate the safe deposit box.

At CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Deputy Director Ward Abbott learns about a failed assassination attempt against exiled African dictator Nykwana Wombosi. Meanwhile, in Zürich, the amnesiac incapacitates two policemen using advanced hand-to-hand combat when they attempt to arrest him. The next morning, he visits a bank using the number that was embedded in his hip, and opens a safe deposit box to find several passports containing his picture (all under different names and nationalities), large amounts of assorted currencies, and a handgun. As the man assumes he is American (he speaks with an American accent), he takes the name from the American passport, Jason Bourne. He takes all the passports and money, but leaves the handgun.

As he leaves, a bank employee contacts Operation Treadstone, a CIA black ops program. After being chased by police, Bourne escapes into a U.S. consulate where he is again pursued by authorities. Bourne escapes and encounters a German woman named Marie Kreutz, offering her $20,000 to drive him to an address in Paris. Meanwhile, Alexander Conklin, the head of Treadstone, assures Abbott that he will destroy any evidence connecting them to Bourne, who was responsible for the failed assassination attempt on Wombosi. He activates three "assets" to take down Bourne: Castel, Manheim, and The Professor.

Bourne arrives at the address on his passport, and after studying the apartment, hits redial on his phone and is connected to the Hotel Regina. As John Michael Kane, one of the passport aliases, he is identified and Bourne is informed that Kane died two weeks earlier in a car crash. Castel ambushes Bourne and Marie at the apartment, but Bourne manages to defeat him after a fight and attempts to interrogate him unsuccessfully. Marie finds wanted posters in Castel's bag with both her and Bourne's pictures on them; as Bourne attempts to calm her down, Castel jumps out of a window to his death. Marie goes into shock, and Bourne escorts her from the building.

Conklin plants a body in a Paris morgue in an attempt to fool Wombosi that Kane is dead, but Wombosi recognizes that the body is not his assailant. The Professor assassinates Wombosi at his home. As Bourne investigates Wombosi he concludes that he must have been an assassin prior to his amnesia. He and Marie leave the city and travel into the French countryside to stay with Marie's stepbrother Eamon. In the morning, The Professor comes to kill Bourne. Bourne sends Marie and Eamon to hide in the basement, while he grabs Eamon's shotgun and goes out to find The Professor, blowing up a large propane tank as a distraction. After a brief standoff in a cropfield, Bourne shoots The Professor twice and interrogates him briefly. The Professor reveals their mutual connection to Treadstone before dying. Bourne sends Marie away for her own safety. He contacts Conklin to arrange a meet, but instead tracks Conklin's vehicle to discover the location of Treadstone's safe house in Paris.

Bourne breaks in and holds Conklin and logistics technician Nicky Parsons at gunpoint, beginning to remember his last mission through successive flashbacks. "Kane" was an assumed identity during his mission to infiltrate Wombosi's entourage and kill him, but Bourne failed to kill Wombosi aboard his yacht when he intended to because his children were sleeping nearby. Bourne fled and was shot twice in the back in the process. Bourne tells Conklin that he is leaving Treadstone and warns not to follow him. Realizing that their conversation is being overheard, Bourne leaves Conklin and Parsons before killing three agents who try to kill him. Abbott shuts down Treadstone and has Manheim kill Conklin. Abbott goes before an oversight committee, dismissing Treadstone and previewing a new project codenamed "Blackbriar". Some time later, Jason finds Marie renting out scooters to tourists in Greece, and the two reunite.




Director Doug Liman stated that he had been a fan of the source novel by Robert Ludlum since he read it in high school. Near the end of production of Liman's previous film Swingers, Liman decided to develop a film adaptation of the novel. After more than two years of securing rights to the book from Warner Brothers and a further year of screenplay development with screenwriter Tony Gilroy, the film went through two years of production.

The inner workings of the fictitious Treadstone organization were inspired by Liman's father's job in the National Security Agency (NSA) under Ronald Reagan. Of particular inspiration were Liman's father's memoirs regarding his involvement in the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair. Many aspects of the Alexander Conklin character were based on his father's recollections of Oliver North. Liman admitted that he jettisoned much of the content of the novel beyond the central premise, in order to modernize the material and to conform it to his own beliefs regarding United States foreign policy. However, Liman was careful not to cram his political views down "the audience's throat". There were initial concerns regarding the film's possible obsolescence and overall reception in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, but these concerns proved groundless.


Liman approached a wide range of actors for the role of Bourne, including Russell Crowe and Sylvester Stallone, before he eventually cast Damon. Liman found that Damon understood and appreciated that, though The Bourne Identity would have its share of action, the focus was primarily on character and plot. Damon, who had never played such a physically demanding role, insisted on performing many of the stunts himself. With stunt choreographer Nick Powell and trainer Jeff Imada, he underwent three months of extensive training in stunt work, the use of weapons, boxing, and eskrima. He eventually performed a significant number of the film's stunts himself, including hand-to-hand combat and climbing the safe house walls near the film's conclusion.


From the onset of filming, difficulties with the studio slowed the film's development and caused a rift between the director and Universal Pictures, as executives were unhappy with the film's pacing, emphasis on small scale action sequences, and the general relationship between themselves and Liman, who was suspicious of direct studio involvement. A number of reshoots and rewrites late in development and scheduling problems delayed the film from its original release target date of September 2001 to June 2002 and took it $8,000,000 over budget from the initial budget of $60 million; screenwriter Tony Gilroy faxed elements of screenplay rewrites almost throughout the entire duration of filming. A particular point of contention with regard to the original Gilroy script were the scenes set in the farmhouse near the film's conclusion. Liman and Matt Damon fought to keep the scenes in the film after they were excised in a third-act rewrite that was insisted upon by the studio. Liman and Damon argued that, though the scenes were low key, they were integral to the audience's understanding of the Bourne character and the film's central themes. The farmhouse sequence consequently went through many rewrites from its original incarnation before its inclusion in the final product.

Other issues included the studio's desire to substitute Montreal or Prague for Paris in order to lower costs, Liman's insistence on the use of a French-speaking film crew, and poor test audience reactions to the film's Paris finale. The latter required a late return to location in order to shoot a new, more action-oriented conclusion to the Paris story arc. In addition to Paris, filming took place in Prague, Imperia, Rome, Mykonos, and Zürich; several scenes set in Zürich were also filmed in Prague. Damon described the production as a struggle, citing the early conflicts that he and Liman had with the studio, but denied that it was an overtly difficult process, stating, "When I hear people saying that the production was a nightmare it's like, a 'nightmare'? Shooting's always hard, but we finished."

Liman's directorial method was often hands-on. Many times he operated the camera himself in order to create what he believed was a more intimate relationship between himself, the material, and the actors. He felt that this connection was lost if he simply observed the recording on a monitor. This was a mindset he developed from his background as a small-scale indie film maker.

The acclaimed car chase sequence was filmed primarily by the second unit under director Alexander Witt. The unit shot in various locations around Paris while Liman was filming the main story arc elsewhere in the city. The finished footage was eventually edited together to create the illusion of a coherent journey. Liman confessed that "anyone who really knows Paris will find it illogical", since few of the locations used in the car chase actually connect to each other. Liman took only a few of the shots himself; his most notable chase sequence shots were those of Matt Damon and Franka Potente while inside the car.


The film received positive reviews. The film review collection website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an 83% approval rating based on 184 reviews collected, and an average score of 7/10. The site's consensus reads "Expertly blending genre formula with bursts of unexpected wit, The Bourne Identity is an action thriller that delivers -- and then some." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of 4 stars and praised it for its ability to absorb the viewer in its "spycraft" and "Damon's ability to be focused and sincere" concluding that the film was "unnecessary, but not unskilled". Walter Chaw of Film Freak Central praised the film for its pacing and action sequences, describing them as "kinetic, fair, and intelligent, every payoff packaged with a moment's contemplation crucial to the creation of tension" and that the movie could be understood as a clever subversion of the genre. Charles Taylor of acclaimed the film as "entertaining, handsome and gripping, The Bourne Identity is something of an anomaly among big-budget summer blockbusters: a thriller with some brains and feeling behind it, more attuned to story and character than to spectacle" and praised Liman for giving the film a "tough mindedness" that never gives way into "cynicism or hopelessness". Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine also noted Doug Liman's "restrained approach to the material" as well as Matt Damon and Franka Potente's strong chemistry, but ultimately concluded the film was "smart, but not smart enough". J. Hoberman of The Village Voice dismissed the film as "banal" and as a disappointment compared against Liman's previous indie releases; Owen Gleiberman also criticised the film for a "sullen roteness that all of Liman's supple handheld staging can't disguise". Particular acclaim was directed toward the film's central car chase which was described as an exciting action highlight and one of the best realized in the genre.

Box office performance

In its opening weekend, The Bourne Identity took in US$27,118,640 in 2,638 theaters. The film grossed $121,661,683 in North America and $92,263,424 elsewhere for a total worldwide gross of $214,034,224.


Year Organization Award Category/Recipient Result
2003ASCAP Film and Television Music AwardsASCAP AwardTop Box Office Films " John Powell
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USASaturn AwardBest Action/Adventure/Thriller Film
American Choreography AwardsAmerican Choreography AwardOutstanding Achievement in Fight Choreography " Nick Powell
Art Directors GuildExcellence in Production Design AwardFeature Film " Contemporary Films
Motion Picture Sound Editors, USAGolden Reel AwardBest Sound Editing in Domestic Features - Dialogue & ADR; Sound Effects & Foley
World Stunt AwardsTaurus AwardBest Work With a Vehicle

Home media

On January 21, 2003, Universal Pictures released The Bourne Identity on VHS, and on DVD in the U.S. in two formats; a single-disc widescreen collector's edition and a single-disc full screen collector's edition. Both contain supplemental materials including a making-of documentary, a commentary from director Doug Liman and deleted scenes. On July 13, 2004, Universal released a new DVD of the film in the U.S. in preparation for the sequel's cinema debut. This DVD also came in two formats: a single-disc widescreen extended edition and a single-disc full screen extended edition. Both contain supplemental materials including interviews with Matt Damon, deleted scenes, alternative opening and ending, a documentary on the consulate fight and information features on the CIA and amnesia. The alternate ending on the DVD has Bourne collapsing during the search for Marie, waking up with Abbott standing over him, and getting an offer to return to the CIA. Neither contain the commentary or DTS tracks present in the collector's edition. The film was also released on UMD for Sony's PlayStation Portable on August 30, 2005 and on HD DVD on July 24, 2007. With the release of The Bourne Ultimatum on DVD, a new DVD of The Bourne Identity was included in a boxed set with The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. The boxed set is entitled The Jason Bourne Collection. A trilogy set was released on Blu-ray in January 2009.


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The Bourne Identity: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on June 11, 2002. It contains selections of music composed by prolific composer John Powell and was performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony. In addition to the score, the film also featured the song "Extreme Ways" by Moby and "Southern Sun / Ready Steady Go" by Paul Oakenfold. The soundtrack won an ASCAP Award.

Track listing

Video game

In 2008, The Bourne Identity was adapted into a video game, The Bourne Conspiracy. The game was available for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.


The Bourne Identity was followed by a 2004 sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, which received a similar positive critical and public reception, but received some criticism for its hand-held camerawork, which observers argued made action sequences difficult to see. The Bourne Supremacy was directed by Paul Greengrass with Matt Damon reprising his role as Jason Bourne. A third film, The Bourne Ultimatum, was released in 2007 and again was directed by Paul Greengrass and starred Matt Damon. Like Supremacy, Ultimatum received generally positive critical and public reception, but also received similar criticism for the camera-work.

Universal moved ahead with a fourth installment of the Bourne franchise, The Bourne Legacy, without either Damon or Greengrass.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "The_Bourne_Identity_%282002_film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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