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Still shot from the movie: The Bourne Identity.

The Bourne Identity

On a storm-ravaged night, fishermen working on the Mediterranean haul in a bullet punctured body floating in the ocean. When their "catch" revives, he has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Set ashore, the amnesia sufferer (Matt Damon) sets out to discover who he is. But someone out there already knows-- and they're out to net him dead or alive.

Overall Grade: C-
Violence: D+
Sexual Content: B-
Language: C-
Drugs/Alcohol: C+
Release Date: 13 Jun 2002
Run Time: 119
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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In-Depth Review

CIA agents and their covert activities have been a hot topic in the movie world lately with films like The Sum of All Fears and Bad Company. Now this government agency is chasing down one of their own in the action thriller The Bourne Identity.

On a storm-ravaged night, fishermen working on the Mediterranean haul in a bullet punctured body floating in the ocean. When their "catch" revives, he has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Set ashore by the rescuing sailors, his only clue is a vial of microfilm found implanted in his hip. After he tracks down the bank account number stored on the film, he finds a stash of cash, fake passports, and finally a name to call himself.

But while Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) tries to unravel who he is, someone out there already knows and they're out to net him, dead or alive (with dead seeming to be their first choice). Hunted down by highly trained agents on orders from their supervisor (Chris Cooper), Bourne strains to outwit his assassins and avoid their high-powered weapons with the help of a young woman (Franka Potente). Yet, worse then waking up and not knowing who he is, the amnesiac begins to discover a past he wants no part in.

Filmed on locations in Greece, France and the Czech Republic, The Bourne Identity is filled with scenic backgrounds and historic venues. However, it is also full of automatic gunfire, stalking snipers and highly trained combat moves that result in plenty of blood baths. Jason Bourne may be the agency's number one target but the mission is fraught with rising numbers of dead and injured caught in the not-so-friendly fire.

Regrettably, the violence in this film overshadows the underlying story. In one scene, Bourne stares at his reflection in the window, trying to find anything familiar about the face looking back at him. With so much of our identity tied up in our name and our past, that story line may have been intriguing enough without all the bullets.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: D+

Body is seen floating in a turbulent ocean. Character operates on man to remove bullets, includes use of knife, some blood seen. Contains numerous scenes of character being attacked and graphic hand-to-hand combat including the use of objects. Characters exchange gunfire, innocent bystanders at risk. Soldiers storm building. Man kicked and knocked down stairs. Characters discuss assassination attempts. Man arms himself with a kitchen knife. Character breaks through windowpane, starts shooting with automatic weapon; fight ensues, with blood shown. Character graphically stabbed with letter opener. Character jumps to his death. A character that was shot in head is shown. Couple argues briefly. Car chase with crashes, reckless driving and property damage is shown. Characters identify body in morgue. Sniper kills man. Man roughly pushes woman. Character breaks into home. Gas tank is shot and blows up. Characters stalk and fire shots at one another; man dies (some blood). Dog is assumed killed and children are threatened. Character holds a gun to man’s head in front of his children. Characters push and punch one another. Gunfire in apartment building causes damage and leaves numerous agents dead. Character killed by own agents, shots are fired directly into body.

Sexual Content: B-

Brief scene shows a Couple kissing passionately: woman’s bare shoulders and man’s chest and back are seen. Woman is seen in bra. Couple embraces.

Language: C-

Includes one extreme sexual expletive, five moderate and 11 mild profanities and 16 uses of terms of Deity for expletives.

Alcohol / Drug Use: C+

Characters smoke in several scenes. Customer drinks at a bar. Woman under stress comments on needing a drink; drinks directly from bottle.

Miscellaneous Concerns:

Woman vomits and appears to suffer some form of shock following stressful encounter. Government officials are involved in cover-up scheme.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Jason is concerned at first because he doesn’t even know his own name. What does your name say about you? Does your name have special significance or were you named after someone?

Should the CIA have tried to help Jason first and fired later? Do you think they would have reacted differently if they knew he was suffering from amnesia?

Video alternatives

For another movie with a “man on the run” theme try The 39 Steps, while Cast Away deals with a man stripped of his identity.

This film is the first in a franchise. Its sequels are The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: The Bourne Identity (Steelbook)

Release Date: 6 May 2014

The Bourne Identity re-releases to home video (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL with UltraViolet) in a Steelbook edition (meaning packaged in a steel case), with the following bonus materials:

- Digital Copy of The Bourne Identity

- Includes UltraViolet

- U-Control: Treadstone Files

- U-Control: Bourne Orientation

- U-Control: Picture in Picture

- Feature Commentary with Doug Liman

- The Ludlum Identity

- The Ludlum Supremacy

- The Ludlum Ultimatum

- Alternate Opening

- Alternate Ending

- Deleted Scenes

- Extended Farmhouse Scene

- The Birth of The Bourne Identity

- The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum

- Access Granted: An Interview with Screenwriter Tony Gilroy

- From Identity to Supremacy: Jason & Marie

- The Bourne Diagnosis

- Cloak and Daggar: Covert OPs

- Inside a Fight Sequence

- Moby “Extreme Ways” Music Video

- BD-Live: Download Center

- BD-Live: My Scenes Sharing

- BD-Live: My Chat

- BD-Live: The Bourne Identity Commentary

- BD-Live: Bourne Card Battle Strategy Game

- The Bookend Scenes: Never-Before-Seen Opening and Alternate Ending

- Cloak and Dagger: Covert Ops

- The Speed of Sound

- Declassified Information

- Feature Commentary with Director Doug Liman

DVD Release Date: 11 December 2007

The movie is also available as part of The Jason Bourne Collection, which packages together the entire franchise (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum).

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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