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Widescreen DVD special edition review
Reviewer:   Jim "JR" Rutkowski
Doug Liman
Screenplay by: Tony Gilroy, William Blake Herron, W. Blake Herron. Based on the characters created by Robert Ludlum
Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper
Length:   87 minutes
Released:   081402
PG-13 for violence and some language.
 “…Liman speaks only when he has something to say so at times he’s just keeps to himself until those moments come”
Since this is my first DVD review for the site I guess I should give you the ground rules of what I will talk about and what I will never mention. First, the transfers of most DVD's are excellent so I won't bring it up unless it's one of those Anchor Bay Manhunter kind of deal where the source material was so bad that Michael Mann made them let him do a real director's cut. Most of my attention will be spent on the extras and whether I feel that another version is coming so I can warn you against buying something I got stuck with before the announcement was made for the good version. With that in your head and in mind let's talk about Universal's Bourne Identity.
The film is about a man found floating in the water by a fishing boat who later learns that he uses the name Jason Bourne. It is based on the novel by the late Robert Ludlum and was previously an ABC mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain. Here Matt Damon is the confused Bourne and we follow him along in his quest to remember who he was and how he ended up face down in the water. Along the way he pays Franke Potente for a ride to Paris and attracts the attention of the government agency he works for.
Bourne doesn't remember much but he is able to access a talent for fighting and survival. Along with Potente (who he naturally falls in love with) he is able to stay one step ahead of the assassins sent after him by Chris Cooper (who himself is trying not to annoy his boss, Brian Cox) until a whole bunch of bodies pile up and we await the next Bourne film.
Having read the book in which this was based (as well as the two sequels) and watched the mini years ago I was concerned about how the book would translate. Damon is a bit young for the part considering his skills (his age is never mentioned here, nor how long he was trained) and the mini had to be four hours considering how long the book was. I became a fan of director Doug Liman after seeing Go. I also know that adapter Tony Gilroy can be if left alone at the top of his game. There was also a big concern about the trouble Liman and Damon were having with the studio as they were making it but after seeing the film I was satisfied with the final product.
This film has been described as a 'thinking man's action film'. Translated that means: 'we'll blow a bunch of shit up, give you some slick fights and try not to talk down to you while we're doing it'. That's what the film actually does which is refreshing because generally that's just talk after the studio finishes interfering with it.
Extras include a Moby video, the usual cast and crew stuff, production notes, the trailer, an alternate ending, an extended scene, some deleted scenes, a short documentary, director's commentary and the Universal DVD-ROM content. The alternate ending isn't much since all it does is show the end from another perspective. The extended scene is just talking at the dinner table at the farmhouse. We get in the four deleted scenes nothing we couldn't live without especially a scene where a psychiatrist explains what could be wrong with Bourne as his handlers watch. It comes off as Simon Oakland explaining what's wrong with Norman Bates at the end of Psycho.
The highlight is the commentary by Liman. It seems that everyone in Hollywood wanted the movie rights to Bourne but he went out to Ludlum's house to make his case and ended up becoming a friend of the writer. He explains how much he needed to change for the movie (such as the ending in which Bourne remembers his first name) and his need to shoot things himself considering his independent film background. Liman also tells us that he shot tons of stuff with Cooper and Cox even though he knew he couldn't use it. He also answers a question that a lot of people had after seeing the film: why was Julia Styles' role so small? Because when they cast her she wasn't a star yet. He does discuss the ending that had to be reshot and the reasons why but not how much pressure the studio put on him to do it. Liman speaks only when he has something to say so at times he's just keeps to himself until those moments come. It would have been nice to hear from Gilroy and some of the cast as well but maybe that'll happen when Bourne Supremacy comes out.

BOURNE IDENTITY © 2003 Universal Pictures
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2009 Alternate Reality, Inc.



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