Matt Damon, Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity

My Favorite Scene: The Bourne Identity (2002) *Mini Madness*

Matt Damon, Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity

We are now three weeks away from the fifth entry in the Bourne series: Jason Bourne.  The film marks the return of Matt Damon to the title role (after the awful Bourne Legacy) and director of films two and three: Paul Greengrass.  Most likely, this will be the last Damon Bourne film.  We’ll be spending the next three weeks in My Favorite Scene looking at one of the best action trilogies ever made (because I really, really suppressed the memory of #4)

Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity, Matt Damon
If you’ve never seen the films because action/adventure or spy films aren’t your usual genres, I would seriously encourage you to try them anyway (they’re on Netflix streaming right now).  The Bourne films aren’t just all fantastic, complicated films plot-wise, they changed the game when it came to spy thrillers.  The Bond series was forced to retool because of two things: Austin Power’s lampooning of its ridiculousness and Jason Bourne making James Bond look like a waiter.  Matt Damon, who had never done any action film prior to Identity, doesn’t look like an action star, but that works to his favor because this character was trained to never be seen, act completely independently, wash the intelligence community’s dirty laundry, and Bourne did all of those very well until he lost his memory after being shot on assignment.  I’m going to take a little liberty with the columns the next three weeks and use multiple scenes.  This first one, early in the film, establishes Bourne’s mindset and what a tactical weapon in human form he is.

The Bourne series is famous for two tropes that occur in each of the three films (and I’m sure will in #5 as well): the chase and the improvised fight.  The agency that trained Bourne trained him to always use his environment.  The car chase is an underrated cinematic tradition.  The Bourne series has at least two of the best ever filmed.  My favorite scene from the first film is Jason’s hotwiring of a Mini-Cooper and the auto acrobatics that leave Paris carmageddon.

The other tradition in Bourne films is that, at some point, Jason is going to have to fight someone ridiculously talented (usually another agent from his group sent to put him down) using-again-only what he has on hand.  In the first film, that would be a ballpoint pen versus a knife-wielding aggressor.  That he’s constantly improvising, constantly turning even the most mundane of objects into deadly weapons, slips in and out of personalities and languages like he was changing jackets and performs it all with a precision and casual confidence in his abilities is what makes the character so fascinating and elevates these films from action-adventure romps to truly great films.  And this is the weakest of the three!

10 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: The Bourne Identity (2002) *Mini Madness*”

    1. I remember walking into it in 2002 not really knowing what to think because Doug Liman as a director is hit and miss, I can’t stand the books, and Matt Damon had never done action aside from Saving Private Ryan which is a whole world away from being able to make this ordinary seeming man into a walking buzzsaw. When the Mini goes down the steps, it was all over, I was totally in, and I think the chase in Supremacy is the best car chase in film history, but that’s next week’s fun.

      1. I’ve not read the books, but I like the Bourne films. Matt Damon was great in them, he’s gone on to have so many outstanding roles since as well. That scene with the Mini going down the steps is brilliant 🙂

      2. Matt Damon is getting to the point where the fact that he doesn’t have an Oscar for acting (he does have one for co-writing Good Will Hunting) is kind of embarrassing. He was great in The Martian, but last year had the best crop of performances in that category in maybe a decade. It’s only a matter of time; he’s truly a great actor, completely versatile, and it’s the fact that he doesn’t look like or give off an action hero vibe that makes his Bourne so good. The books are nothing like the films. Robert Ludlum reeeeeeally liked exclamation points. More than any author I’ve ever read. I’m talking one every three sentences. It gets…wearying. Obviously, he had and still has a huge following, but I would never recommend the books if you enjoy the films.

      3. Oh I see, well I think I will give the books a miss in that case then LOL. Yes, the Bourne films have be constantly good and I often enjoy rewatching them. Matt Damon is a great actor, sure his time for an Oscar will come soon. I loved his performance in the Martian as well, brilliant film that one 🙂

  1. Awesomeness defined. The three Matt Damon Bourne films comprise the most consistently excellent trilogy in film history, other than Toy Story. There are others I love more, but the Bourne trilogy never fizzles for a second. Somehow they kept the quality going.

    1. If they can deliver a final installment that gives a little more of the closure Ultimatum lacked, though, not to the detriment of the film as a whole, that would be the highlight of the back half of the summer.

      1. I hope it happens, though lately it seems like the entire concept of closure is incompatible with they way Hollywood is doing business.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s