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HTF REVIEW: "The Bourne Identity" (with screenshots)



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#1 of 64 Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 01 2003 - 07:50 AM

Posted Image

The Bourne Identity






Studio: Universal
Year: 2002
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish



He was the perfect weapon until he became the target


I'm a real sucker for a good spy thriller, but have
continuously grown tired of the James Bond franchise
which has become sillier with every new film. For
this reason, you'll find me more ready to cozy up
to such films as Spy Games, Mission Impossible
or Patriot Games. This year's most worthy entry
of this genre is The Bourne Identity, based
very loosely on the Cold War thriller by Robert Ludlum.

Posted Image

As the film begins the crew of a deep sea fishing
boat find Bourne (Matt Damon) floating in the
Mediterranean sea, near death, and with no memory of
who he is or what happened to him. The only clue
to this man's existence is an electronic device
containing the number of a Swiss safe deposit box
sewn into his skin of his back. Once he makes his
way to the Swiss bank, he discoverers a safety deposit
box filled with different passports all bearing his
picture, but with different identities.

Posted Image

Despite his amnesia, Bourne's internal instincts
seem to be unaffected, which he discovers when he
easily overpowers two Swiss policeman. On the run,
Bourne's only hope of survival lies in a young
German woman, Marie Kreutz, (Franka Potente of Run
Lola Run
), who he persuades to drive him to his
apartment in Paris.

Posted Image

Slowly, the past seems to unravel before him as he
finds himself in the middle of an international
manhunt with the CIA on his back, headed up by
Ted Conklin (Chris Cooper) who will go to any lengths
to bring Bourne in dead or alive.

The Bourne Identity may not be the best spy
thriller in memory, but it has a lot of things going
in its favor. Though the film has a very simplistic
story line, it often becomes a gripping and involving.
Matt Damon seems to fit perfectly as a spy with a
cold and calm demeanor. You truly believe that he
is a hardened spy trained to kill when it becomes
necessary. The only problem with Bourne's character
is the same problem we see in most all films of this
type -- the hero is given extraordinary physical
abilities that allow him to escape the most dangerous
situations unscathed. It's this sort of implausibility
that sort of brings down the film's over-the-top
action sequences. If you look at this film merely
as a popcorn flick, you probably won't mind any of
this.


How is the transfer?


The overall transfer of The Bourne Identity
is amongst the best the format has to offer. This
is nice "warm" transfer with nice color rendition.
Flesh tones are extremely accurate and black levels
are very deep. The night shots are often washed
in beautiful blue filter, but there seems to be a
slight loss of shadow detail due to the fact that
picture is a tad too dark. There is absolutely no
background noise or grain evident anywhere.

Posted Image

Once again I am very pleased with a DTS track that
adds spaciousness to the entire sound field. This
is a very active soundtrack with a lot of effect
support from the rear channels. Perhaps the best
this track has to offer can be heard in the opening
moments of the film as we are taken to the stormy
waters of the Mediterranean. It is here that you
can hear a perfect blend of storm related effect
noises (wind, claps of thunder, boat creaks)that
seem to emanate from every channel. LFE response
is also most prominent in these opening moments,
but soon after, I found the presence of bass to be
lacking, making this soundtrack sound rather bright.



Special Features

Posted ImagePosted Image
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The feature-length commentary by producer/director
Doug Liman moves along at a nice pace thanks
to the fact that Liman is never at a loss of words.
We find out that because the film covers so much
international territory, that it became a sort of
challenge for the director to cast the film. It's
rather interesting to learn that he worked with
Italy's most renowned actor, and had to trust his
cast to speak a language he did not understand.
We also learn how Damon went on a forced diet and
worked with a trainer in order to shape up for this
film. As the movie progresses, Liman talks about
how the film differs in many ways from the original
book, with many of its traits being taken from his
father's memoirs. Coincidentally, his father was an
integral part of the Iran/Contra investigation,
interrogating Oliver North. Liman is particularly
proud of the scenes that writer Tony Gilroy wrote
for actor Chris Cooper, and used as many of those
scenes in the film as possible. Because the movie
was filmed in many open public areas, the director
had difficulty filming Matt Damon without him being
noticed by onlookers. To prevent such high-profile
exposure, the director often took his camera and
an assistant out to location to quietly film these
public sequences. I particularly enjoyed listening
to the director talk about how the car chase through
the streets of Paris was choreographed, using stunt
men with wigs and fake steering wheels. Most of
it was captured by the director himself from the
back seat of a car and he talks about how scary it
became to film those sequences. I think that those
that have the time to listen to this commentary will
be quite intrigued by the amount of in-depth that
director Liman provides here.

Posted Image

The birth of The Bourne Identity is nothing
more than the normal sort of promotional fare you
find on these DVDs. It begins with cast members
Matt Damon, Franka Potente and Clive Owen giving us
the lowdown on the film's action-packed story. We
are then introduced to Executive Producer Frank
Marshall who talks about the film's director, Doug
Lidman, credited as a man capable of giving this
film a certain bit of "edge" thanks to his background
in independent film. We learn a little bit about
the original novel the film is based on and how the
writers and director aimed to modernize it. There
isn't a whole lot of background information here
other than the fact that Damon spent three months
in martial arts and weapons training which he really
enjoyed. There's a brief look at how these martial
arts sequences were safely staged. This is an
easily skippable featurette that only briefly skims
over what went on behind the camera.
(length: approx. 14 minutes)

The films alternate ending slightly alters
from the original, but unfortunately becomes too
cliched with characters practically running across
a beach to embrace each other . I am happy that
the filmmakers decided to go with the film's
more subtle original ending.
(length: approx. 2 minutes)

There are four deleted scenes that run a
total of approximately 6 minutes. These scenes
are actually quite good, and I am surprised this
material was cut in order to shave this little bit
of time off the film. There's a scene aboard a
private jet where black radical Nykwana Wombosi
talks about the assassination attempt on his life.
There's another really good scene where on the
side of a road, Marie questions the monetary deal
that Bourne made with her. Another scene takes
place at CIA headquarters where a psychologist
listens to and examines a recorded phone conversation
with Bourne.

A one-minute extended Farmhouse sequence is
not much of interest here, basically extended silly
dialogue with the children around the dinner table.

The film's Music Video, Extreme Ways
by Moby is included here as well as the film's
original theatrical trailer. There's an
extensive cast and crew filmography as well
as Production Notes that tell us how director
Doug Liman secured rights to the 1980 novel and
modernized it for the screen, adding some of his
own personal experiences of watching real spies in
action.

DVD-ROM content provides Internet weblink
access to exclusive never-before-seen video and
pictures as well as behind-the-scenes footage.
There is also a set of simple arcade and memory
games to play that will enable you access the code
that reveals Jason Bourne's true identity.

I have yet to mention this in my recent reviews
of Universal titles, but the studio is now providing
English & French subtitles in their
supplemental material. I want to take a moment and
commend the studio for doing this.


Final Thoughts

Posted Image

This above-average spy thriller makes for an
evening of enjoyable entertainment. It's
certainly a smarter alternative to the recent
Bond films and one would sort of hope that perhaps
Damon will continue his role in future sequels.

Universal has done a terrific job with this
transfer, but unfortunately, the bonus material
gives us very little insight into the film
production itself.

Recommended viewing!


Release Date: January 21, 2003


All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 64 Jedrek

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Posted January 01 2003 - 07:54 AM

I loved this movie in theaters, so I'll definately be picking this DVD up. This one beats out the latest Bond adventures and definately beats Triple X's ass. Posted Image
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#3 of 64 Jedrek

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Posted January 01 2003 - 07:55 AM

Oh and thanks once again for the awesome review, Ron! Posted Image
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#4 of 64 GlennH

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Posted January 01 2003 - 09:12 AM

Thanks for the review Ron. I didn't see this film and am looking forward to checking out the DVD.
Quote:
For this reason, you'll find me more ready to cozy up to such films as Spy Games, Mission Impossible or The Patriot.
The Patriot is the Mel Gibson film set during the American Revolution. Did you mean Patriot Games (Harrison Ford)?

#5 of 64 RyanChristoffel

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Posted January 01 2003 - 09:46 AM

Well, once again you have convinced me to buy something, lol. Great review, Ron!

#6 of 64 Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 01 2003 - 10:31 AM

Glenn,

That was a typo and has been since corrected.

Thanks

Ronald J Epstein
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#7 of 64 Kenneth Cummings

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Posted January 01 2003 - 10:46 AM

Very good review once again Ron. I might have to pick this up, since after watching "Sums of All Fears (great movie)" yesterday, I might want to try some other good spy movies (can't try the other three entries since they are getting double dipped soon).
I need a new signature.

#8 of 64 Ed St. Clair

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Posted January 01 2003 - 10:54 AM

Thank's for working New Year's Day!
Heck, thank's for working all year.Posted Image
Movies are: "The Greatest Artform".
HD should be for EVERYONE!

#9 of 64 Tim Glover

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Posted January 01 2003 - 11:05 AM

Nice Review Ron. I love movies like this. I've already pre-ordered 2 copies...one for me and a late xmas gift for a friend. Posted Image

#10 of 64 Gregory E

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Posted January 01 2003 - 12:00 PM

I can't wait to check this one out. The problem I have is deciding to rent or buy the week it comes out.

#11 of 64 Cees Alons

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Posted January 01 2003 - 12:25 PM

Ron,

The first time I saw this movie was on an airplane home from Florida (and the HT Cruise). Circumstances were not optimal Posted Image , and some scenes may even have been cut for that viewing, but I enjoyed it enough to pre-order it.

In fact, I also ordered the 1988 version (with Richard Chamberlain) of which the 2002 version is a remake, sort of. The 1988 version was out on DVD already, so we received it, but we didn't watch it yet. That's because it is said that the previous version is a bit longer and goes into more depth about some details of the story. Which would mean that the first one can spoil the second one, but just a bit less the other way.
So my family will watch the last one first when it arrives (as I did - my wife slept on the plane during through that movie).

Thanks for a great review, we're waiting with more impatience now (and more dedication to stay away from the first version for the moment)!

Cees

#12 of 64 Malcolm R

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Posted January 01 2003 - 12:41 PM

One of my faves for 2002, and with DTS too. Where's the drooling smiley when you need it? Posted Image Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!
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#13 of 64 Jenna

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Posted January 01 2003 - 04:02 PM

Well...I was planning to rent this one, but Ron's review of the DTS soundtrack makes it a tempting purchase. We'll see how the pricing is...
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#14 of 64 Tim Glover

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Posted January 02 2003 - 03:37 AM

Is there/Was there a version with Jon Voight too?

#15 of 64 Greg S

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Posted January 02 2003 - 03:47 AM

The wife and I saw this in theater and definitely enjoyed it.

I am not sure I will buy it considering store pricing may be $19.99(we will have to see) but I will definitely rent it for an additional viewing as its well worth it.

Greg

#16 of 64 T r o y

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Posted January 02 2003 - 04:48 AM

I wanted to see this one in the theaters but missed it Posted Image

I'll definately pick this one up!

Everyone, feel free to post your thoughts on the DTS track on this one.

Later!

Troy

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#17 of 64 Chris Richard

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Posted January 02 2003 - 06:57 AM

I've been anticipating this release. My wife, my 2 teenage children and I all enjoyed this film in the theater. Thanks for the review, Ron.
Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when they get mad, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

#18 of 64 T r o y

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Posted January 02 2003 - 10:22 AM

Hey Ron,

Can you go into a little more explanation on how the gunshots sound on the DTS track?

Do they sound punchy or dynamic sounding?

Just curious.

Thanks
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#19 of 64 Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 02 2003 - 11:08 AM

Troy,

I actually scribbled notes about the gunshot
sounds and forgot to mention them in my review.

They actually sound phenomenal. In one scene you
hear the gunshots rattling through the rear channels
as you hear the sounds of shells dropping through
the front.

Though it lacks a lot of bass throughout, the DTS
track really sounds good here.

Ronald J Epstein
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#20 of 64 T r o y

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Posted January 02 2003 - 11:14 AM

Thanks Ron for chiming in and adding your thoughts on the gunshot sounds of the DTS track.

I'm really looking forward to this flick now!

Later!

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