Reviews - The Bourne Identity (2002)
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The Bourne Identity (2002)

Genres: Action, Mystery, Thriller

Taglines: He was the perfect weapon until he became the target.

Director: Doug Liman

Writers: Tony Gilroy, W. Blake Herron, Robert Ludlum

Stars: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, ...

Based very loosely on Robert Ludlum's novel, the Bourne Identity is the story of a man whose wounded body is discovered by fishermen who nurse him back to health. He can remember nothing and begins to try to rebuild his memory based on clues such as a Swiss bank account, the number of which is implanted in his hip. He soon realizes that he is being hunted and takes off with Marie on a search to find out who he is - and why he is being hunted.

90 | Todd McCarthy

A first-rate thriller with grit and intrigue to spare.
Read More: Variety

88 | Mike Clark

Blisteringly fast, Bourne also has a strong or striking supporting actor around every corner: Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles and Clive Owen in roles that range from meaty to amazingly small.
Read More: USA Today

88 | Lawrence Toppman

One of those rare thrillers where the cops aren't fools, villains don't turn stupid at crucial moments, and career assassins seldom miss targets.
Read More: Charlotte Observer

83 | William Arnold

Somehow the movie works like a clock. Its scenes and sensibility are all more than familiar, but it exudes a kind of nostalgic spy-movie charm and, at the same time, is so fresh and free of the usual thriller nonsense that it all seems to be happening for the first time.
Read More: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

80 | Hank Sartin

The full-throttle approach of director Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) is impressive.
Read More: Chicago Reader

80 | Desson Thomson

There isn't a dull or dumb moment in this movie.
Read More: Washington Post

80 | Richard Schickel

The result is an escapist fantasy that is -- Damon's and Potente's persuasive performances aside -- as weightless and inconsequential as a musical. And at the moment every bit as welcome.
Read More: Time

80 | David Edelstein

The movie is a generic paranoid espionage fantasy, but its proportions are refreshingly correct. It moves quickly, adroitly, and without fuss.
Read More: Slate

80 | Kenneth Turan

This is an entertainment that really entertains because any number of interesting and unexpected choices were made, starting with the selection of Doug Liman as the director.
Read More: Los Angeles Times

80 | Charles Taylor

Entertaining, handsome and gripping, The Bourne Identity is something of an anomaly among big-budget summer blockbusters: a thriller with some brains and feeling behind it, more attuned to story and character than to spectacle.
Read More:


The outcome is distinctive and entertaining. There's no way you'd mistake this for James Bond, and no reason you would want to.

80 | Dana Stevens

The Bourne Identity, like its hero, triumphs through sheer unreflective professionalism. It is, by today's standards, a modest thriller, with a self-contained storyline and with very few big special effects.
Read More: The New York Times

78 | Marc Savlov

Like its protagonist, it never hands you explanations on a silver platter, and it makes you think a bit, something far too few thrillers do these days.
Read More: Austin Chronicle

75 | Mark Caro

Liman packs enough firepower into The Bourne Identity to please the summer action fan, including a reshot climax that contains one of the niftier stunts I've seen recently. The centerpiece action sequence is a bravura car chase through Paris, yet the moments that bookend it are equally impressive.
Read More: Chicago Tribune

75 | Mick LaSalle

The result is not only entertaining but also refreshing, a shameless crowd-pleaser with a healthy cynicism about itself.
Read More: San Francisco Chronicle

75 | Roger Ebert

A skillful action movie about a plot that exists only to support a skillful action movie. The entire story is a set-up for the martial arts and chases. Because they are done well, because the movie is well-crafted and acted, we give it a pass. Too bad it's not about something.
Read More: Chicago Sun-Times

75 | James Berardinelli

Nicely paced and fits the bill for those in search of two hours of spy-based action and martial arts. The movie has credibility issues, but none are insurmountable in the name of entertainment.
Read More: ReelViews

75 | Steven Rea

Damon, starring in his first full-fledged action pic, brings a determined bearing and believability to the proceedings.
Read More: Philadelphia Inquirer

70 | Ella Taylor

Though it's clearly meant to be character-driven, the movie is thrown out of whack by a total lack of chemistry between the leads, and some great acting (Clive Owen, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox) on the side.
Read More: L.A. Weekly

70 | Peter Travers

Director Doug Liman -- the hip skipper of "Swingers" and "Go" -- makes all the familiar dirty business seem fun and almost human. In these dog days, Bourne earns what passes as high praise: It doesn't suck.
Read More: Rolling Stone

63 | Jonathan Foreman

A lean, deftly shot, well-acted, weirdly retro thriller that recalls a raft of '60s and '70s European-set spy pictures. There are even moments when you hope it could turn into a modern "Charade."
Read More: New York Post

63 | Liam Lacey

The problems with Damon's character are the problem with the movie: It's about plot mechanics, not heart and soul.
Read More: The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

60 | Ken Fox

This savvy adaptation of Robert Ludlum's action-clogged 1980 bestseller benefits from the fact that the filmmakers were smart enough to throw out most of the book's preposterous spills and thrills and concentrate instead on its intriguing central character.
Read More: TV Guide Magazine

60 | Scott Tobias

May be a bloodless piece of thriller craftsmanship, but at a time when craft has become negligible, its efficiency and whipcrack timing are increasingly uncommon virtues.
Read More: The A.V. Club

60 | Stephen Hunter

As for Damon, this may not be a performance so much as an appearance. But he cares so utterly, it works.
Read More: Washington Post

60 | Michael Dequina

Makes one interested in seeing the inevitable sequel, but one is also left to somewhat question the worth of sitting through this first installment.
Read More: Film Threat

58 | Owen Gleiberman

It has a few whispers of intrigue, but at the heart of The Bourne Identity lies a dispiriting paradox: The more that Jason Bourne learns about himself, the less arresting he seems.
Read More: Entertainment Weekly

50 | David Sterritt

Films borrow tricks from pictures made years ago -- try to watch Bourne without thinking of "The Manchurian Candidate."
Read More: Christian Science Monitor

50 | Rene Rodriguez

Next time Damon will have to find a worthier vehicle. As the intended start of a franchise, The Bourne Identity is a bit of a bust.
Read More: Miami Herald

50 | Peter Rainer

All this is diverting but also borderline dull.
Read More: New York Magazine (Vulture)

40 | J. Hoberman

Banal big-budget adaptation of Robert Ludlum's 1980 espionage thriller.
Read More: Village Voice

38 | Renee Graham

The best audiences can hope for is that they, too, get amnesia and forget they ever saw this movie.
Read More: Boston Globe