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Sunday, November 24, 2002
Lead Article

Suspense propels this tale
Ervell E. Menezes

The Bourne Identity is a perfect spy film
The Bourne Identity
is a perfect spy film

WHEN a body is rescued at sea and the man (finally alive) doesnít remember his identity it is ideal stuff for a spy film. And when this fugitive on the run meets up with an equally enigmatic female the fare is doubly suspenseful. Thatís the recipe then of The Bourne Identity, the quintessential spy thriller based on a Robert Ludlum novel.

Remember seeing Osterman Weekend in the early 1980s, another of Ludlumís novels, and though it wove around a host of characters and kept the suspense alive the end was a bit of a let-down. Not The Bourne Identity, it is the perfect spy story.

The fishermen who pick up Jason Bourne (Matt Dammon) with two bullet wounds in his back give him enough money to reach Switzerland. But the amnesiac Bourne is all at sea about this identity. "I donít know who I am," is his anguished cry and so he sets out for the American embassy. But he is being shadowed. Could it be the CIA? And then he meets a wayward spirit in Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente, the Heroine of Run, Lola Run) and their cup of woe overflows.

 


But it is an intricate plot that is its best selling plot. The screenplay by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron is more than adequate and director Doug Liman imbues the film with all that is contemporary is the spy genre. Suspicion is sprinkled like mustard and it has something to do with the killing of an African leader. And of course there are a plethora of CIA operatives with Conklin (Chris Cooper) and the Professor (Clive Owen) the most prominent.

To make matters worse, Bourne finds in his possession a number of fake passports. There are twists and turns galore and a good deal of action to go with it. Car chases in the streets of Paris and slowly, ever so slowly, the plot unfolds itself. It takes all of 140 minutes but it is absorbing drama with Matt Dammon and Franka Potente hogging most of the limelight. Oliver Woodís camerawork is another asset as this staccato-paced thriller careens it way about having the viewer in a vice-like grip right through the film.

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