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The Bourne Identity

In 2002, Matt Damon kicked off one of the best spy film series of all time with THE BOURNE IDENTITY.

It's not easy to capture the backroom politics, surveillance intrigue and clandestine maneuvering of Robert Ludlum's novels for the big screen, as the boring and ponderous 1983 film adaption "The Osterman Weekend" proved.

Director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, Mr and Mrs Smith) proves a terrific choice, paired with an excellent screenplay by Tony Gilroy (Proof of Life, Michael Clayton) that keeps things moving at an incredible pace.

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) awakens in a remote village after being found floating in the sea by fishermen. He has total amnesia and no idea why he has several bullets in him and more than a few bruises.

As he begins to recover, he finds the number to a Swiss bank account (where is half the fun). What he discovers there unleashes several movies worth of mayhem and action as assassins immediately begin to come after him.

Watching Bourne fight back against these unprovoked attacks with skill and lethal force he has no idea he possesses sets up the entire series.

Who is he?

Why are so many people trying to kill him?

How does he know several languages and one hell of a lot about a lot of topics?

Damon is terrific, creating a character we cheer for on his violent road to discovery.

Franka Potente is great as Frankie, a young woman who gives Bourne a ride and becomes part of his quest.

Chris Cooper (The Town) is a CIA operative you'll love to hate, along with Brian Cox (Troy) as Ward Abbott, a key player in Bourne's story.

Clive Owen is a lethal assassin and Julia Stiles (Silver Linings Playbook) begins a recurring role as a lower level CIA tech whose torn in what she discovers about Bourne.

The stunt team does incredible work, with some jaw dropping hand to hand fight scenes as well as massive scale car chases through the crowded streets of Europe that are among the best ever filmed.

Damon trained for many months in martial arts and gun training, all of which pays off in the incredible, fast paced action that explodes with authenticity.

Unlike earlier OO7 films, Bourne actually feels every punch and rough landing, a trait which Daniel Craig brought to the Bond role when the Bourne films proved very successful. The infallible Roger Moore of the 70's would never have worked in the 2000's.

THE BOURNE IDENTITY is a terrific thriller, leaving things very open ended for the sequel "The Bourne Supremacy" in 2004. It gets an A and still holds up beautifully for fans of smart action films nearly 20 years after it's release.

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