Film Year: 2002
Film Length: 1 hour 59 mins
Genre: Thriller/Action/Spy Drama
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
BD Resolution: 1080p
BD Video Codec: VC-1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Film Rating: PG-13 (Violence, Language)
Release Date: January 19, 2010
Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Own, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Screenplay by: Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron
Based on the Novel by: Robert Ludlum
Directed by: Doug Liman
Film Rating: 3/5
I’m going to start this review right off by saying that this Blu-ray is a double-sided release, with the Blu-ray content on one side, and a standard DVD version on the flip side. I have tested both sides in my PS3, and I have been given feedback about the playback for both sides in multiple Blu-ray and standard DVD players. I have had no problems whatsoever, and I haven’t been told of any. So let me put your mind at ease in that area just to get started.
The Bourne Identity is a movie that has grown on me over time. When I first saw it back in 2003, I thought it was well-made but problematic. With time, my qualms about the movie and the story have faded a bit and I’ve come to appreciate its virtues. SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW – IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM YET, I RECOMMEND YOU JUMP AHEAD TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH. The story follows Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), a tough, nearly superhuman killer spy who is suffering from amnesia when we first find him floating in the ocean, with a bullet in his back. The movie then follows Bourne as he retraces his steps into Europe to find out exactly who he is and how he wound up where he is. There’s a lot of solid action sequences in this film, particularly in terms of fight scenes and chases, along with a great travelogue of the streets and backroads of Europe. It’s hard for me in this film to really accept Damon as an action hero, but he’s backed up by some great performances by Franka Potente (at that point recently coming from the films of Tom Tykwer, particularly Run Lola Run), Clive Owen, Brian Cox and the always-reliable Chris Cooper. It’s a fun ride to sit through, and it sets up the two sequels that actually get better and better as you get through each one.
The Bourne Identity has been released on DVD and HD-DVD, as well as in a triple-pack on Blu-ray. This release is the first time the film has been made available on its own as a Blu-ray release. As I noted before, this is a double-sided release, with Blu-ray content on one side and SD content on the other. The Blu-ray content is identical to that of the earlier triple pack release, down to the bitrates. The SD content appears to me to be identical to the last DVD release – that being for the Bourne Files pack released in summer 2007. With Sam Posten’s gracious permission, I’m going to quote his review of the Blu-ray triple pack from a year ago, as the content is the same.
VIDEO QUALITY 4/5
From Sam Posten’s review: “Color fidelity is strong, and for the most part The Bourne Identity has a very crisp and clean look that befits this big budget production. Especially in the wide angle expository shots that establish each location change, detail is off the charts and helps the viewers feel like they are part of these European urban environments. Close ups tended to be slightly muddier, and I noted several occasions where facial detail was not nearly as strong in close-ups than it was in the long shots, but this is likely to be an original film stock quality and not any error of the transfer. While I loathe to judge films by screenshots alone, pictures I have seen at other sites bear this out. While there are minor amounts of detail differences between the HD DVD and this BluRay, both look stunning but have slightly defocused ,./, it’s (SIC) in the original print. I did notice a bit of the mosquito noise in the details of walls and other solid backgrounds which I saw on the HD DVD but I wasn’t particularly distracted by it unless I was extremely close to the screen and watching for it.
Again, this is a very clean print, with minimal print damage, pops and scratches (although I did detect a few when I got close to look for the mosquito noise), and while grain was present in many cases during darker scenes it was never distracting except on the few walls noted above.”
AUDIO QUALITY 4 ½/5
From Sam Posten’s review: “This film has both a great score and an intricately layered sound track. Composer John Powell has crafted music that spans from mournful and haunting while Bourne is initially adrift to tense and intense tracks that accompany the car chases, shootouts, and final Treadstone confrontation. End credits music is supplied by Moby in the form of the song ‘Extreme Ways’ and this track is paired nicely with the themes of the film.
On the surround front, music, dialogue and foley effects are, as noted above, intricately put together in a deeply layered sound field. I wasn’t blown away by the amount of surround content as especially the first half of the movie is a bit pedestrian, but the second half makes up for it and brings the action to all corners. The rears are active a significant amount of time with music, environmental effects data and gunfire and other action keys. Bass is likewise significant factor, holding down the bottom end of the musical score nicely and coming into its own during the few explosions and lots of gunfire.
Note also that unlike the prior HDDVD this release features a full uncompressed DTS sound encode and while I would be hard pressed to make any generalizations about how they stack up head to head, the film sounded just as I remembered it during the last review and the full bandwidth will make the fanboys happy.”
SPECIAL FEATURES 5/5
From Sam Posten’s review: “The features on this disk are a near mirror image of the HD DVD version and the sheer number of them is off the charts, again noting that this disk is not labeled as any kind of special edition.
First up I have to mention the continued use of U-Control to integrate interactivity into the bonus features. However, I found the implementation on this disk had a smoother menu operation than the HD DVD which I railed about. The U-Controls here DO feature some interesting content , and this time the inclusion of the “Bourne Orientation” is either new to this film or one which didn't strike me on the HD as worthy of note, but it’s pretty slick but I question its value as it simply let viewers catch up with each quarter of the film or so. The Treadstone Dossiers and PiP segments remain good and the ability to menu jump to them is ok if a little bland. There are also a few new tidbits in the BD-Live menu including a trivia game, but that isn’t really on my radar.
Fortunately the ‘regular’ bonus content more than makes up for it. There is a feature length commentary track with Director Liman. There are FOUR separate biographical featurettes about Robert Ludlum and the Bourne Series, and there is a fair amount of content that is repeated between them, There is a featurette where an actual CIA operative gives perspective on Bourne’s capabilities, and another with a psychologist who discusses the reality of amnesia cases. There is an extended look at the fight sequence within the US embassy, and a look at the car chase. Because of the impacts 9/11 had on the movie industry, Universal scrambled to revise this film to be more in tune with the emotion of the day, and a special new opening and closing were filmed. These would have been horrible additions to the film and were thankfully excised, but they are included here in full. Fnally there is an absolute avalanche of extended and deleted scenes that are interesting and show once again how careful cutting can make a movie.”
As for the DVD side of the equation, what we’ve got here is an SD transfer of the film with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack in English, Spanish and French. The extra features on the SD side do not include three of the Ludlum featurettes (“The Ludlum Identity”, “The Ludlum Supremacy” and “The Ludlum Ultimatum”), and of course the BD-Live and U-Control functionality would not apply here, but everything else is present. To be honest, after watching the film and the special features on the Blu-ray side, I didn’t feel an urge to watch the movie or the featurettes on the SD side. But it all works fine if you wish to make use of it. The SD side starts with a pair of trailers for the TV series Friday Night Lights and House.
IN THE END...
The Bourne Identity is the start of what ultimately became a successful trilogy of action spy thrillers (which may be expanding with further chapters in the next few years), and it is nice to see it available available for individual purchase. I would definitely recommend this as a rental if you’re interested in the series and especially if you’re a fan of Ludlum, Matt Damon or anyone else in the cast.
Kevin KosterJanuary 16, 2009.