As The Bourne Identity begins, a man who may or may not be Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is found floating in the Mediterranean Sea and is hauled onto a fishing boat. When the ship's doctor examines the unconscious castaway, he discovers two bullet wounds and an implanted device that displays a Swiss bank account number. With nothing but this code, the amnesiac Bourne travels to Zurich and gains access to a safe-deposit box containing a gun, thousands of dollars in various currencies, and valid passports from numerous countries--each listing a different identity. Within minutes, Bourne is on the run from a seemingly ever-present agency, relying on language and fighting skills he didn't even know he possessed. Offering $20,000 for a ride to Paris, Bourne gains the reluctant help of the nomadic Marie (Franka Potente). Meanwhile, the shadowy organization, headed by a tough-talking bureaucrat (Chris Cooper), sends numerous assassins (including the Professor, played by Clive Owen) after Bourne and Marie. As their situation grows more perilous, the two strangers struggle to find out who Bourne really is and why they are being hunted. Doug Liman's adaptation of Robert Ludlum's best-selling novel is a remarkable exercise in straightforward storytelling, with the director wisely choosing to focus on Bourne and his quest for identity. The fight sequences are thrilling, but never overly glamorized, and the film's pacing is engaging and deliberate. Damon, who displays genuine bewilderment as his character discovers his almost-superhuman abilities, anchors the proceedings with the subtle charm of an unlikely action hero. Potente also shines as Bourne's road companion, a savvy woman who slowly builds an utterly believable relationship with the confused man. Bearing distinct affinity for its European setting and classic Hollywood suspense films, The Bourne Identity succeeds as an unusually smart character-driven thriller. In The Bourne Supremacy, Matt Damon returns as amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne in this fast-paced follow-up to 2002's The Bourne Identity. Forced out of hiding as the result of an attempt on his life, Bourne fulfills his earlier promise to wreak vengeance on his former CIA employers, some of whom may be in league with murderous Russians. Brian Cox and Joan Allen are both great as warring agency chiefs convinced Bourne orchestrated the murder of two of their own in a deal gone bad. Thanks to tense, gritty direction by Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday), the plot stays tight, the characters believable, and suspense and thrills flow steady. Moody photography enhances the urban European locations, which--combined with handheld camerawork and fast editing--keeps the action realistic and CGI-free. Vividly capturing the fatalist flavor of Robert Ludlum's original novel, this is globalism noir at its finest. Franka Potente and Julia Stiles are back from the original, and the always dependable Marton Csokas shows up as one of Bourne's deadly fellow operatives. A rousing car chase through Moscow may outdo the ones in Ronin and The French Connection for visceral speed and length. As the icing on the cake, John Powell provides a menacing, ambient percussive score.
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