I was looking
forward to this movie because I read Robert Ludlumís book several
While it wasnít Ludlumís best (that would be The Eiger
Sanction, written under the pseudonym Trevanian, which became a wonderful
Clint Eastwood Movie and contained a tour
de force by Jack Cassidy in a role that allegedly contributed to his
untimely death), The Bourne Identity was an enjoyable read.
this review is not about Eastwood or Cassidy or Ludlum, itís about Matt
Damon and Director Doug Liman. Damonís a good-looking guy whose best
roll was his cameo as Private Ryan. Maybe
heís best when heís off screen and people are looking for him.
Here, however, heís on screen while people are looking for
For some unknown
reason, Liman apparently wanted to show a totally emotionless protagonist.
So he made a good pick in Damon whose display of emotions, in
Dorothy Parkerís words, runs the gamut from A to B.
One thing you could say about Ludlumís novels, both good and bad,
is that his protagonists were emotional.
Lots of italicized thoughts run throughout his novels emphasizing
the fact that his hero has feelings. Damon,
on the other hand, seems totally unphased by the fact that his life has
apparently only started when he awakens on a fishing boat in the
and that the entire world seems out to kill him.
This picture has
been in the can seemingly forever. Universal
kept postponing its release date. Too
bad they didnít use that time to fix things, like reshoot it entirely
with a different director and a different star.
One of the many
problems, other than Damonís lack of emotion, is the fact that thereís
no suspense. This guy is so in
control that you never doubt heís ever going to come to harm.
He knows everything thatís going to happen before it happens. For
example, he deduces that thereís a hit man outside just because a dog is
missing. Then he finds
the guy, whoís hiding in a huge weed-filled field surrounding a
farmhouse in the country, with no clues.
Before a shot is fired, he knows exactly where to go to look for
You want more?
The fight scenes are poorly staged and unrealistic, one Hollywood
Punch after another. Damon
kills his last guy in a derivative scene copied from Guilty as Sin (a
pretty good Don Johnson-Rebecca deMornay thriller that virtually nobody
saw). It was ludicrous in
Guilty as Sin and itís still ludicrous.
Take the car chase. Please.
Why do directors continue to try to liven up movies with ever more
implausible car chases? Nobodyís
ever going to achieve the standard set by Peter Yates in Bullitt (although
William Friedkin came close in The French Connection).
The fact the chasee in The Bourne Identity is a Mini Cooper and is
mostly going the wrong way on one-way streets (a cheap trick to which
Yates didnít have to resort in Bullitt) should be a telling tip itís
as uninvolving and unsuspenseful as the rest of the movie.
The film makers
must have been as confused as they make their audience because they
explain virtually nothing. The
word sailing through your mind as you leave the theater is, huh?
And, speaking of mysteries, if you do happen to go see this, please
explain how Damon discovered what he discovers at the end.
On the plus
side, I didnít go to sleep