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The Bourne Identity

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Matt Damon, The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Identity: Universal Studios

The Bourne Identity

Current Status:
In Season
113 minutes
Wide Release Date:
Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles
Doug Liman
Tony Gilroy, William Blake Herron
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C+

Robert Ludlum’s 1980 best-seller — the first in a trilogy — has been adapted before, as a 1988 TV movie starring Richard Chamberlain. Now it’s ”Bourne” again with a big cast and a bigger budget ($60 million). Damon takes on his first action role as an amnesiac on the run — ”a guy,” he says, ”basically trying to figure out who he is.” And ”Run Lola Run”’s Potente, still speeding along, is his troubled cohort.

The film’s most intriguing mystery may be why we’ve had to wait so long for it. Filming in Prague, Italy, and France was completed more than a year ago, and the movie was originally intended as a fall release. But last summer Universal asked director Liman (”Go,” ”Swingers”) for ”one more action set piece,” the filmmaker says, which was to be done in New York. The new shoot didn’t seem too tricky — at first. A scene had been written, but it was never shot due to budgetary reasons. Then Liman found himself hobbled by the events of Sept. 11 and unable to film in Manhattan until November. Plus, he says, ”we had shot some other things. So it wasn’t as simple as just putting [a scene] back in.”

By this time, though, Liman was used to last-minute changes on the set: While filming in Paris, the script underwent rewrites, including scrapping the climax and inventing another that could be shot near Prague. So don’t expect your father’s Robert Ludlum. ”Most action movies have that typical thing with the guy being the strong protector hero,” says Potente. ”We’re more modern — sorry, Mr. Ludlum — than the original novel.”