Sunday, June 16, 2002

The Bourne Identity (IMDB) (Netflix)
The bad guys always rely on extreme negative reinforcement ("the price of failure is death, Number 32"), which doesn't seem like a very good recruiting or performance management strategy. Matt Damon is the man who can't remember his name or why he has two bullet holes in his back, but starts to put the pieces together with the help of Franka (Run Lola Run) Potente while fending off a bunch of hit men sent by his CIA handler, Chris Cooper, who has been ordered to clean up the mess Damon created, but can't remember.

This is an old-fashioned thriller that thankfully doesn't have a terrorism angle, special effects or more than one explosion, just lots of bent sheet metal from a Paris car chase (the vintage Mini Cooper almost steals the movie) and a creative way to break one's fall. Damon is well cast as the vulnerable-but-competent killer, and Potente compares almost favorably to Faye Dunaway's terrific performance in Three Days of the Condor (a highly recommended rental). It doesn't have the emotional depth or suspense that "Condor" had, or even the more recent "Ronin" (another rental recommendation), but there are some nice moments between Damon and Potente, and a sense of realism that very recent thrillers have missed.