If you go to the movies often, you may notice that most of today's movies have one theme: the fish out of water. These movies place a character in a foreign setting and wait for sparks to fly.
Matt Damon is Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Identity." (Hollywood.com)
"The Bourne Identity" is a fish-out-of-water movie. It begins with a man being drug out of the Mediterranean. He is thought dead, but is discovered alive with two bullet holes in the back. A capsule with a bank name and Swiss bank account number is also embedded under his skin. The man does not know who he is, but he understands and speaks the language of the fishermen who found him.
He goes to the bank and finds a safe deposit box with lots of cash, lots of passports and a gun. He learns that his name is Jason Bourne. His appearance at the bank starts a chain of events that leads to lots of stunt driving and martial arts sequences. As the movie progresses, we learn that he is a CIA agent and the agency is trying to eliminate him.
After escaping from the authorities, Bourne runs into Marie. He gives Marie $10,000 to take him to a Paris address he found in the box. Upon arrival in Paris, Bourne begins to piece together his identity.
Through out the movie, we see that being a part of the CIA means that you must kill or be killed, even if it's because your boss is trying to cover himself. That means that you sometimes have to kill your own kind. Bourne has to escape from everyone—from the Paris police to agents who were trained just like him.
"The Bourne Identity" is a wonderful thrill ride. It has imaginative stunts and great camera work. Doug Liman, the director, doesn't shoot most of the stunts using the traditional dolly method; he shoots them with a handheld camera, giving those sequences a frenetic pace that serves the movie well.
The movie, based on a Robert Ludlum novel, has a great pace. It absorbs you, but only until you stop and wonder about it.
Why does the CIA want to kill the African leader we see at the first of the movie? Is CIA work done in a vacuum of no supervision? Can they kill anyone they choose? Why is Marie so important to the movie? Is she just there so we will see a "love interest?" These are legitimate questions.
There is thought being given to a sequel, so Bourne might be a franchise. If so, there will have to be much more to the movie than what is seen here. It's very much like the "Mission Impossible" franchise, which does well for one reason: Tom Cruise. Matt Damon has real star power, but probably not at the level of Cruise.
Can Damon's star power carry this series? Time will be the only way to tell. Yet, there has to be more substance than what this movie reveals.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.
Rated PG-13 for violence and some language
Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron (from a novel by Robert Ludlum)
Cast: Jason Bourne: Matt Damon; Marie: Franka Potente; Ted Conklin: Chris Cooper; The Professor: Clive Owen; Ward Abbott: Brian Cox.