The Bourne Identity (2002 film)

The Bourne Identity (2002 film)
The Bourne Identity

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Doug Liman
Produced by Frank Marshall
Richard N. Gladstein
Doug Liman
Screenplay by Tony Gilroy
William Blake Herron
Story by Robert Ludlum (Novel)
Starring Matt Damon
Franka Potente
Chris Cooper
Clive Owen
Brian Cox
Julia Stiles
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Music by John Powell
Cinematography Oliver Wood
Editing by Saar Klein
Christopher Rouse (Additional)
Studio The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) June 14, 2002 (2002-06-14)
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$60 million[1]
Box office US$214,034,224[1]

The Bourne Identity is a 2002 American spy film loosely based on Robert Ludlum's novel of the same name. It stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, an amnesiac attempting to discover his true identity amidst a clandestine conspiracy within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The film also stars Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox and Julia Stiles. This film is the first in the Bourne film series, being followed by The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). The fourth movie, The Bourne Legacy, is scheduled for release in July 2012.

The film was directed by Doug Liman and adapted for the screen by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron. Although Robert Ludlum died in 2001, he is credited as the film's producer alongside Frank Marshall. Universal Pictures released the film to theaters in the United States on June 14, 2002 and it received a positive critical and public reaction.



An Italian fishing boat crew working off the coast of Marseille, France finds an unconscious man (Matt Damon) adrift in the Mediterranean with two gunshot wounds in his back. When he wakes up, the man comes to realize he suffers from retrograde amnesia, having only one clue to his identity: the account number to a safe deposit box provided by a tiny laser projector surgically implanted in his hip. Traveling to Zürich, Switzerland to find the corresponding bank, the man discovers he is skilled in advanced hand-to-hand combat, and fluent in German, when he instinctively defends himself from two policemen questioning him for loitering in a closed park at night.

The man arrives at the bank and finds the deposit box contains a significant amount of cash in differing currencies and several passports with his photo, but with numerous aliases. He assumes the identity on the topmost passport, "Jason Bourne," and leaves as a bank employee notifies a CIA Special Activities Division group, "Operation Treadstone," about his visit. Bourne evades the Zürich police and flees to the embassy, where he is accosted by the officials there but once again manages to elude capture. A few blocks away, he approaches Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) and offers her US$20,000 to take him to Paris to the address on his "Bourne" passport.

Meanwhile, back at CIA headquarters Alexander Conklin (Chris Cooper), the head of Treadstone, reveals to his supervisor, Deputy Director Ward Abbott (Brian Cox), that Bourne was the covert operative responsible for a failed assassination attempt on African dictator Nykwana Wombosi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Intending to sever all connections between the CIA and Wombosi, Conklin sends three highly-trained "assets" (assassins) to eliminate Bourne. Bourne and Marie arrive at the apartment in Paris, where he finds that one of his aliases, "John Michael Kane," was supposedly killed two weeks ago. The first asset, code-named "Castel" (Nicky Naude), ambushes them but Bourne subdues him after a brief fight. Marie checks Castel's bag and panics when she discovers a hit list package with photos of CCTV footage of her and Bourne at the embassy the day before. As Bourne tries to calm her down Castel escapes and jumps out the window to his death before Bourne can learn anything else.

Conklin enlists Nicolette "Nicky" Parsons (Julia Stiles), a logistics technician at the Treadstone Paris safe house, to assist him in tracking Bourne and Marie. Bourne goes to meet Wombosi to obtain more information but the second asset, code-named "The Professor" (Clive Owen), kills Wombosi before Bourne arrives. With the news of Wombosi's death, Bourne surmises he was an assassin before the onset of his amnesia. Bourne and Marie flee to the home of her stepbrother in the countryside where Bourne decides that he no longer wants to be who he was.

Back at the CIA headquarters Conklin tracks Bourne and Marie to the countryside house. The next morning The Professor tries to snipe Bourne but Bourne creates a diversion and dispatches him in a cropfield. As he dies, The Professor tells Bourne about their mutual connection to Treadstone. Bourne sends Marie away for her safety then uses The Professor's cell phone to arrange a meeting with Conklin to bring him out into the open so he can track him.

Bourne tails Conklin back to the Paris safe house, where Conklin tells him he planned the entire operation to kill Wombosi. The revelation triggers Bourne's memory and through successive flashbacks Bourne remembers he used the Kane alias to infiltrate Wombosi's entourage but couldn't bring himself to kill Wombosi because of the latter's children. When he aborted the mission he was shot twice and fell overboard from Wombosi's yacht into the Mediterranean where the Italian fishermen later found him. Bourne tells Conklin he is quitting Treadstone and warns them not to follow him. After ordering Nicky to close down the safe house, Conklin is murdered by the third asset, code-named "Manheim" (Russell Levy), on orders from Abbott. Some time later, Abbott explains to an oversight committee that he shut down Treadstone because of its ineffectiveness and proposes a new program, "Operation Blackbriar." Free from his old life, Bourne reunites with Marie in Mykonos, Greece, where she works renting scooters to tourists, and the two share a loving embrace.




Director Doug Liman stated that he had been a fan of the source novel by Robert Ludlum since he read it in high school. Near the end of production of Liman's previous film Swingers, Liman decided to develop a film adaptation of the novel. After more than two years of securing rights to the book from Warner Brothers and a further year of screenplay development with screenwriter Tony Gilroy, the film went through two years of production.[2]

The inner workings of the fictitious Treadstone organization were inspired by Liman's father's job in the National Security Agency (NSA) under President Ronald Reagan. Of particular inspiration were Liman's father's memoirs regarding his involvement in the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair. Many aspects of the Alexander Conklin character were based on his father's recollections of Oliver North. Liman admitted that he jettisoned much of the content of the novel beyond the central premise, in order to modernize the material and to conform it to his own beliefs regarding United States foreign policy. However, Liman was careful not to cram his political views down "the audience's throat". There were initial concerns regarding the film's possible obsolescence and overall reception in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, but these concerns proved groundless.[2]


Liman approached a wide range of actors for the role of Bourne, including Russell Crowe and Sylvester Stallone, before he eventually cast Damon. Liman found that Damon understood and appreciated that, though The Bourne Identity would have its share of action, the focus was primarily on character and plot.[3] Damon, who had never played such a physically demanding role, insisted on performing many of the stunts himself. With stunt choreographer Nick Powell and trainer Jeff Imada, he underwent three months of extensive training in stunt work, the use of weapons, boxing, and eskrima. He eventually performed a significant number of the film's stunts himself, including hand-to-hand combat and climbing the safe house walls near the film's conclusion.[4]


From the onset of filming, difficulties with the studio slowed the film's development and caused a rift between the director and Universal Pictures, as executives were unhappy with the film's pacing, emphasis on small scale action sequences, and the general relationship between themselves and Liman, who was suspicious of direct studio involvement.[5] A number of reshoots and rewrites late in development and scheduling problems delayed the film from its original release target date of September 2001 to June 2002 and took it $8,000,000 over budget from the initial budget of $60 million; screenwriter Tony Gilroy faxed elements of screenplay rewrites almost throughout the entire duration of filming.[5] A particular point of contention with regard to the original Gilroy script were the scenes set in the farmhouse near the film's conclusion. Liman and Matt Damon fought to keep the scenes in the film after they were excised in a third-act rewrite that was insisted upon by the studio. Liman and Damon argued that, though the scenes were low key, they were integral to the audience's understanding of the Bourne character and the film's central themes. The farmhouse sequence consequently went through many rewrites from its original incarnation before its inclusion in the final product.[5]

Other issues included the studio's desire to substitute Montreal or Prague for Paris in order to lower costs, Liman's insistence on the use of a French-speaking film crew, and poor test audience reactions to the film's Paris finale. The latter required a late return to location in order to shoot a new, more action-oriented conclusion to the Paris story arc.[6] In addition to Paris, filming took place in Prague, Imperia, Rome, Mykonos, and Zürich; several scenes set in Zürich were also filmed in Prague.[2] Damon described the production as a struggle, citing the early conflicts that he and Liman had with the studio, but denied that it was an overtly difficult process, stating, "When I hear people saying that the production was a nightmare it's like, a 'nightmare'? Shooting's always hard, but we finished."[7]

Liman's directorial method was often hands-on. Many times he operated the camera himself in order to create what he believed was a more intimate relationship between himself, the material, and the actors. He felt that this connection was lost if he simply observed the recording on a monitor. This was a mindset he developed from his background as a small-scale indie film maker.[4]

The acclaimed car chase sequence was filmed primarily by the second unit under director Alexander Witt. The unit shot in various locations around Paris while Liman was filming the main story arc elsewhere in the city. The finished footage was eventually edited together to create the illusion of a coherent journey. Liman confessed that "anyone who really knows Paris will find it illogical", since few of the locations used in the car chase actually connect to each other.[6] Liman took only a few of the shots himself; his most notable chase sequence shots were those of Matt Damon and Franka Potente while inside the car.[2]


The film received broad critical acclaim, with the film review collection website, Rotten Tomatoes, giving the film an 83% approval rating, of 180 reviews given, and an average score of 7/10.[8] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars and praised it for its ability to absorb the viewer in its "spycraft" and "Damon's ability to be focused and sincere" concluding that the film was "unnecessary, but not unskilled".[9] Walter Chaw of Film Freak Central praised the film for its pacing and action sequences, describing them as "kinetic, fair, and intelligent, every payoff packaged with a moment's contemplation crucial to the creation of tension" and that the movie could be understood as a clever subversion of the genre.[10] Charles Taylor of acclaimed the film as "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" and praised Liman for giving the film a "tough mindedness" that never gives way into "cynicism or hopelessness".[11] Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine also noted Doug Liman's "restrained approach to the material" as well as Matt Damon and Franka Potente's strong chemistry but ultimately concluded the film was "smart but not smart enough".[12] J. Hoberman of The Village Voice dismissed the film as "banal" and as a disappointment compared against Liman's previous indie releases;[13] Owen Gleiberman also criticised the film for a "sullen roteness that all of Liman's supple handheld staging can't disguise".[14] Particular acclaim was directed toward the film's central car chase which was described as an exciting action highlight and one of the best realized in the genre.[15][16]

Box office

In its opening weekend, The Bourne Identity took in US$27,118,640 in 2,638 theaters. The film grossed $121,661,683 in North America and $92,263,424 elsewhere for a total worldwide gross of $214,034,224.[1]


Year Organization Award Category/Recipient Result
2003 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards ASCAP Award Top Box Office Films — John Powell Won[17]
2003 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA Saturn Award Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film Nominated[17]
2003 American Choreography Awards American Choreography Award Outstanding Achievement in Fight Choreography — Nick Powell Won[17]
2003 Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design Award Feature Film — Contemporary Films Nominated[17]

Home media

On January 21, 2003, Universal Pictures released The Bourne Identity on VHS, and on DVD in the US in two formats; a single-disc widescreen collector's edition and a single-disc full screen collector's edition. Both contain supplemental materials including a making-of documentary, a commentary from director Doug Liman and deleted scenes. On July 13, 2004, Universal released a new DVD of the film in the US in preparation for the sequel's cinema debut.[18] This DVD also came in two formats: a single-disc widescreen extended edition and a single-disc full screen extended edition. Both contain supplemental materials including interviews with Matt Damon, deleted scenes, alternative opening and ending, a documentary on the consulate fight and information features on the CIA and amnesia. The alternate ending on the DVD has Bourne collapsing during the search for Marie, waking up with Abbot standing over him, and getting an offer to return to the CIA. Neither contain the commentary or DTS tracks present in the collector's edition. The film was also released on UMD for Sony's PlayStation Portable on August 30, 2005 and on HD DVD on July 24, 2007. With the release of The Bourne Ultimatum on DVD, a new DVD of The Bourne Identity was included in a boxed set with The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. The boxed set is entitled The Jason Bourne Collection. A trilogy set was released on Blu-ray in January 2009.[19]


The Bourne Identity: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by John Powell
Released June 11, 2002
Genre Score
Length 54:51
Label Varèse Sarabande
Professional reviews

The reviews parameter has been deprecated. Please move reviews into the “Reception” section of the article. See Moving reviews into article space.

The Bourne Series chronology
The Bourne Identity: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The Bourne Supremacy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Bourne Identity: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on June 11, 2002. It contains selections of music composed by prolific composer John Powell and was performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony. In addition to the score, the film also featured the song "Extreme Ways" by Moby and "Southern Sun / Ready Steady Go" by Paul Oakenfold. The soundtrack won an ASCAP Award.[20]

Track listing

No. Title Length
1. "Main Titles"   4:19
2. "Bourne Gets Well"   1:21
3. "Treadstone Assassins"   2:12
4. "At the Bank"   4:07
5. "Bourne on Land"   1:42
6. "Escape From Embassy"   3:13
7. "The Drive to Paris"   1:30
8. "The Apartment"   3:27
9. "At the Hairdressers"   1:31
10. "Hotel Regina"   2:12
11. "The Investigation"   1:40
12. "Taxi Ride"   3:43
13. "At the Farmhouse"   2:54
14. "Jason Phones It In"   3:05
15. "On Bridge Number Nine"   3:45
16. "Jason's Theme"   2:21
17. "Mood Build"   3:36
18. "The Bourne Identity"   5:58
19. "Drum and Bass Remix"   2:16

Video game

In 2008, The Bourne Identity was adapted into a video game, The Bourne Conspiracy. The game was available for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[21]


The Bourne Identity was followed by a 2004 sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, which received a similar positive critical and public reception,[22] but received some criticism for its hand-held camerawork, which observers argued made action sequences difficult to see.[23] The Bourne Supremacy was directed by Paul Greengrass with Doug Liman returning as a producer and Matt Damon reprising his role as Jason Bourne. A third film, The Bourne Ultimatum, was released in 2007 and again was directed by Paul Greengrass and starred Matt Damon. Like Supremacy, Ultimatum received generally positive critical and public reception, but also received similar criticism for the camera-work.[24]

Universal is moving ahead with a fourth installment of the Bourne franchise, The Bourne Legacy, without either Damon[25] or Greengrass.[26]


  1. ^ a b c "The Bourne Identity (2002)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d 'The Bourne Identity' DVD Commentary Featuring Doug Liman (2003).
  3. ^ Hanrahan, Denise. "Interview with Doug Liman". Retrieved March 14, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b 'The Birth of the Bourne Identity' DVD Making of Documentary (2003).
  5. ^ a b c King, Tom. "Bourne to be Wild". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 12, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Wells, Jeffrey. "Bourne on His Back". Archived from the original on February 17, 2007. Retrieved March 12, 2007. 
  7. ^ Wadowski, Heather. "Interview with Matt Damon". Retrieved March 19, 2007. 
  8. ^ "The Bourne Identity". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved March 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Bourne Identity Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 8, 2007. 
  10. ^ Chaw, Walter. "The Bourne Identity Review". Retrieved March 8, 2007. 
  11. ^ Taylor, Charles. "The Bourne Identity Review". Retrieved March 13, 2007. 
  12. ^ Gonzalez, Ed. "The Bourne Identity Review". Retrieved March 8, 2007. 
  13. ^ Hoberman, J.. "Zero for Conduct".,hoberman,35746,20.html. Retrieved March 24, 2007. 
  14. ^ Gleiberman, Owen. "The Bourne Identity Review".,,261842~1~0~bourneidentity,00.html. Retrieved March 25, 2007. 
  15. ^ Beierle, Aaron. "The Bourne Identity DVD Review". Retrieved March 8, 2007. 
  16. ^ Clinton, Paul (June 14, 2002). "The Bourne Identity Review". Retrieved March 8, 2007. 
  17. ^ a b c d "The Bourne Identity (2002) – Awards". IMDb. Retrieved March 14, 2007. 
  18. ^ Arnold, Thomas K. (July 26, 2004). "Studios big on double features". USA Today. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  19. ^ Ault, Susanne (February 6, 2009). "Universal bundles Blu-ray catalog titles". Video Business. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  20. ^ "World Class". ASCAP. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  21. ^ Saltzman, Marc (June 13, 2008). "Ludlum's 'Bourne' transfers well to video game". USA Today. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  22. ^ "The Bourne Supremacy (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 14, 2007. 
  23. ^ "The Bourne Ultimatum" (Registration Required). The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  24. ^ Corliss, Richard (August 2, 2007). "The Bourne Ultimatum: A Macho Fantasy". Time.,8599,1649187,00.html. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  25. ^ Labrecque, Jeff (October 11, 2010). "No Matt Damon in 'Bourne Legacy': Report". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  26. ^ Gina Serpe (October 11, 2010). "WTF?! Matt Damon Out of The Bourne Legacy". E! Online. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 

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