Erik [Auk]’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Everything I found out, I wanna forget."
I would count the Bourne series as among my favorite series of action films, but I have always liked the first film in this franchise the best. There are many reasons for that, but primarily I feel that The Bourne Identity is the most grounded and tells the most complete story of Jason Bourne. In this film there is a defined beginning, middle, and ending, while the political maneuvering and complex operations of the CIA are for the most part kept to the background.
It's indisputable to say that The Bourne Identity heavily influenced the genre of spy thriller, and even action as a whole, but this genre now leans more heavily toward straight action and power fantasy. Not so with The Bourne Identity, as the real emotional core of this film is about Jason and his relationship with Marie, wonderfully played by Matt Damon and Franka Potente, while the action takes a backseat and is used sparingly to really punctuate its brutality.
As much as The Bourne Identity is about Jason learning his identity, even more so it is about learning to start again, learning to forget the training that turned him into nothing more than a deadly machine. The Bourne Identity is really about Jason learning to be human, and the emotional attachments that come with that.
A great contrast is with the agents that are sent after Bourne to kill him. They are all like Jason was: they have the same set of skills, operate with cold clockwork efficiency, follow their orders and show no quarter. But Bourne on the other hand shows remarkable restraint, a man who appears visibly disgusted the first time his violent training kicks in, who discards the deadly weapons he acquires and kills no one until the stakes become about more than just him. Jason does not actually acquire a gun or score a single kill until an hour and a half into this two hour movie. And that of course does not touch on how Jason found himself in this whole scenario to begin with.
Smarter, well directed, and more grounded than the other two films in this series and the genre as a whole, but still containing great action and a satisfying twisty narrative, I will always love this movie and would easily recommend this film to anyone.
Next: The Bourne Supremacy