The Bourne Identity: Collector's Edition Page 1

Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Directed by Doug Liman. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French), DTS 5.1 (English). 119 minutes. 2002. Universal 21551. PG-13. $26.98.

Who is Jason Bourne? As this clever thriller opens, even he doesn't know. Shot and left for dead to float (face up, fortunately) in the Mediterranean, he's rescued by a French fishing boat. He recovers, only to find that he has no knowledge of who he is or where he's from. It's obvious that he's fluent in several languages, but beyond that, his memory is a blank slate. A chip buried under his skin provides the first clue—a safe deposit box in Switzerland. There he finds passports from several countries with his picture on them but under different names, money, a gun, and an address in Paris where, he believes, he must live. It isn't long before he finds out some other disturbing things about himself: an instinctive expertise with weapons, and martial-arts skills that enable him to overpower and evade the entire Marine guard at an American embassy.

Soon enough, we discover that Bourne is actually a secret American agent who has suddenly become a wild card to his handlers. Bourne himself doesn't learn these details until much later. In the meantime, he's forced into a cat-and-mouse chase across Europe, not knowing who's after him or why.

The Bourne Identity is worth a look for its story and action alone, but Universal has also given it a solid transfer. The video is crisp and colorful, a little dark and grainy in places (judging from the theatrical presentation I saw in the theater, the film was photographed that way), but without obvious edge enhancement. The audio is also first-rate, and while I listened primarily to the Dolby Digital mix, a DTS track is provided for those who prefer it. The dialogue is clean and the effects solid, with extended bass and, where needed, active surrounds. But I didn't find the recording of the score, or the score itself, particularly distinctive or memorable.

There aren't many extras on this single-disc release, but we do get deleted scenes (including an alternate ending not much different from the one finally used), a "Making of" featurette, one of those increasingly ubiquitous music videos, a commentary track by director Doug Liman, and DVD-ROM features and games.

Well above the average run of last summer's popcorn flicks, The Bourne Identity is one of those rare action films that piles on thrills, plot, and character in equal measure. Highly recommended.—TJN