Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - June 28, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba
Bourne Identity exists for its action
AT THE MOVIES
The Bourne Identity is a skilful action movie about a plot that exists only to support a skilful action movie. The entire story is a setup for the martial arts and chases.
Because they are done well, because the movie is well-crafted and acted, we give it a pass. Too bad it’s not about something.
Well, perhaps it is. Perhaps it is about the amoral climate in spy agencies like the CIA.
There are no good guys in the movie — certainly not the hero, played by Matt Damon, who is a trained assassin — and no bad guys, either. Even the people who want to kill Damon are only doing their jobs. Just as the guardians of the Navajo Windtalkers in another new movie are told to kill their charges rather than let them fall into enemy hands, so is Bourne, or whatever his name is, targeted for death after he fails to assassinate an African leader. (There’s a good possibility he would also be targeted if he had succeeded.)
As the movie opens, a fisherman on a boat out of Marseilles spots a body floating in what is obviously a studio back-lot tank.
Hauled aboard, the body turns out to be alive, to have two bullet wounds, and to have a capsule embedded under the skin that contains the code to a Swiss bank account.
The friendly fisherman gives the rescued man (who doesn’t remember who he is) money to take the train to Switzerland, and he is welcomed in that nation and withdraws a fortune from a bank despite lacking a name or any form of personal identification.
Indeed, he finds out who he may be by looking inside the red bag from the bank, where he finds several passports, one saying his name is Bourne. Determined to find out his real name, and why he was floating in the Mediterranean, Bourne pays $10,000 to a gypsy
Actor Matt Damon appears in a scene from The Bourne Identity, based on novelist Robert Ludlum’s international spy thriller.
THE BOURNE IDENTITY
Jason Bourne — Matt Damon Marie Kreutz — Franka Potente Ted Conklin — Chris Cooper The Professor — Clive Owen Ward Abbott — Brian Cox Wombosi — Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Universal Pictures presents a film directed by Doug Liman. Produced by Patrick Crowley, Richard N. Gladstein and Doug IJman.
Written by Tone Gilroy and William Blade Herron, based on the novel by Robert Ludlum.
Music by John Powell.
Running time: 118 minutes.
Classified: PG-13 (for violence and some language).
named Marie (Franka Potente from Run, Lola, Run) to drive him to Paris. Meanwhile, the movie cuts to CIA headquarters in Virginia, where we meet Bourne’s handler, Conklin (Chris Cooper), and his boss, Abbott (Brian Cox). Bourne was thought to be dead.
Now that he is alive, he must be killed, and the assignment goes to several assassins, including the
Professor (Clive Owen), who is as highly trained as Bourne.
I forgot to say that Bourne is trained. Is he ever. He speaks several languages, is a formidable martial artist, has highly trained powers of observation and memory, knows all the spy tricks, and is a formidable driver.
We see that during a sensational chase scene through the streets
of Paris, much of it through narrow alleys, down flights of steps and against traffic.
There comes a point at which we realize there will be no higher level to the screenplay, no greater purpose than to expend this kinetic energy. The movie’s brutally cynical happy ending reveals that it doesn’t take itself seriously.
And we catch on (sooner than Marie) that the girl stays in the picture only because — well, there has to be a girl to provide false suspense and give the loner hero someone to talk to.
I kind of enjoyed The Bourne Identity. I had to put my mind on hold, but I was able to. I am less disturbed by action movies like this, which are frankly about nothing, than by action movies like Windtalkers, which pretend to be about something and then cop out.
Doug Limon, the director of Bourne, directs the traffic well, gets a nice wintry look from his locations, absorbs us with the movie’s spycraft, and uses Damon’s ability to be focused and sincere. The movie is unnecessary, but not unskilled.
SHOWING IN THE CITY
Minority Report (PG-13, 145 minutes). Steven Spielberg’s new film is a triumph, working on our minds and emotions: a thriller and a human story, a motae of ideas that’s also a whodunit. The master filmmaker is at the top of his form, working with a star, Tom Cruise, who generates complex human feelings even while playing an action hero. Set in 2054, it stars Cruise as the chief of the Department of Precrime, which uses precognitives to stop crimes before they are committed. Of course, if you could beat the system, you’d have the perfect crime. With Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell.
Rating: Four stars.
The Bourne Identity (PG-13, 118 minutes).
Rating: Three stars.
Lilo & Stitch (PG, 85 minutes). A surprisingly delightful new animated comedy from Disney, about a hostile alien creature named Stitch, who escapes to Earth, lands on Hawaii, and is adopted as the pet of a little girl named Lilo. Bright, smart, funny, with lots of pop culture jokes and six songs by Elvis. Light-years better than its box-office rival Scooby-Doo.
Rating: Three and a half stars.
Scooby Doo (PG, 87 minutes). Live-action version of the TV cartoon series, with actors playing all the characters except for Scooby
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Doo, who is animated, and steals the show. Perhaps of interest to Scooby Doo aficionados. Nothing much for anyone else.
Rating: One star.
Windtalkers (R, 133 minutes). Starts with the fascinating story of Navajos who use their language to fashion an unbreakable code in World War II — and then buries that material in routine war movie cliches. The Indians are even upstaged in their own movie by Nicolas Cage, as an Italian-American sergeant who is the only well-developed character. Director John Woo, the Hong Kong action expert, gives us way, way too much battle footage and shortchanges the Navajos.
Rating: Two stars.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
(PG-13, 113 minutes). Ellen Burstyn stars as an alcoholic Louisiana character who is offended when her playwright daughter (Sandra Bullock) criticizes her in an interview. Burstyn’s childhood friends (Shirley Knight, Maggie Smith, bionnuia Flanagan) kidnap Bullock and bring her home sd she can get to know her mother better. Rubber-stamped from the inexhaustible supply of fictional Southern belles who drink too much, talk too much, try too hard to be the most unforgettable character you’ve ever met, and are, in general, insufferable.
Rating: One and a half stars.
Insomnia (R, 118 minutes). For his first film since the famous Memento, Christopher Nolan remakes a splendid 1998 Norwegian thriller. Al Pacino stars as an L.A. cop called to northern Alaska to consult on a case; Martin Donovan is his partner, Hilary Swank is the local detective, and Robin Williams is the killer, who insinuates himself into Pacino’s life in a most disturbing way. Not a retread of the earlier film so much as a fresh approach to the same material — haunting, absorbing, atmospheric, with Pacrno evoking a man who is exhausted beyond all hope.
Rating: Three and a half stars.
A Walk to Remember (PG, IOO minutes). A love story so sweet, sincere and positive that it sneaks past our ironic defenses. Mandy Moore stars as a high school outsider; Shane West is a popular boy who begins to fall in love with her. But, no, this isn’t another dumb movie about who will take the class nerd to the prom. Instead, it looks closely, pays attention, sees that not all teenagers are as cretinous as Hollywood portrays them. And tells a quietly touching story of a love based on values and respect.
Rating: Three stars.
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