A man, bullet-riddled and without memory, is rescued and must race to recover his memory and find his assassins… This is how the plot summary of Bourne Identity (2002) goes in IMDb, “very loosely based” as it is on the Robert Ludlum novel. The estimated budget for this showpiece of modern entertainment was $60 million and earnings in the US alone in its first few months were $121 million. Considering myself a writer, but a little short of this income range, I’m wondering what it took for Ludlum to disown any ownership in something he was once presumably proud of. (But not necessarily — Agatha Christie had the objectivity and praiseworthy lack of self-delusion to call herself a “sausage machine” for her formulaic efficiency.) Maybe 10% of the budget? Or a cut of the gross — likely to be well into the tens of millions for the whole series.
Ah, what to do, what to do? — when a movie is so stupid and insulting that you cannot sit through more than a few minutes of it. Yet, the movie is so popular you’re yearning to see something, anything, that warrants it. After agonizing a few more seconds than I wanted to I changed channel — If only all decisions were so simple. The scene that was the deal breaker had these assassins trying to bump him off at the top of a spiral stairwell, at least two. This was some time ago and my memory has luckily erased the details, so for all I know he plugs the first assassin’s gun with his pinky so that the barrel blows up in the bad guy’s face: one assassin dispatched. The other is a little harder, and in the struggle they both go down the stairwell, about eight storeys up — No worries. Matt has plenty of time — probably about two seconds in real life — and just arranges his opponent beneath him (another tricky maneuver), and pummels him senseless on the way down so that he has a nice dead weight of a cushion to fall on on. Then he gets up and walks away without even bothering to dust himself off. The old Warner Brothers cartoons did the cartoon violence a lot better. Wile E Coyote always survived, but at least had the sense of realism to look a little crumpled. Even Arnie, in one movie where he wasn’t playing The Terminator — but seemed like he was — paused a little before yanking a chunk of timber out of his thigh and then strolled on to defeat his nemeses.
According to the IMDb site, the user vote for this film is 7.8 out of a possible 10 — higher than a lot of real classics. But then maybe this is a real classic by today’s standards???? Problem is, the standards are set by by computer-degenerated dweebs who are interchangeable with online participative game designers, not the crew of artists that once created movies.
<p>This was just the first movie in a series of four (so far) — the fourth due out in 2012. The others have names like Born Inferiority — a prequel about how Matt struggled through a puny childhood, to be zapped by lightning one day and be transformed into the superhero we see now. Seems like even superheroes suffer wear and tear because Matt is standing down for the one coming up. Or maybe he expects to be taken seriously in a different kind of movie. Good luck to him. I’ll always see him as the game little fighter who is picked up by fishermen, bullet-riddled and suffering amnesia, and still is able to sense all the forces of evil pitched against him in time and develop muscles and enough psychic powers to defeat them all without breaking a sweat. Arnie had nothing on him.