14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2002
I bought this book after having watched the movie and having finished it in a matter of 3 days I can say the two bear little resemblance save for names and a title. Robert Ludlum is a master at his craft and this book is riveting. His attention to detail shows in every paragraph he writes. Jason Bourne is found, drifting at sea, shot 4 times and near death, with no memory of who or what he is. His voyage of discovery takes him to Zurich, via Paris and finally to the States, all the time discovering just a little bit more about the man he 'thinks' he is - or rather, the man everyone else thinks he is. This book is packed with action, some romance and enough close-calls to keep you on the edge of your seat.
If you've seen the movie, go out and get this book to see what the real thing is like - there's just no comparison between the two.
A highly-intelligent, spellbinding read that will have you back at the bookstore in no time buying everything else this man has ever written.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
There is a cliché that says a book is a real page turner and it certainly applies to this book. I picked it up because I loved the film and I imagined the book would be just as good. The novel, however, leaves the film standing. Don't expect a movie tie-in because this is certainly not that. Jason Bourne is found floating in the ocean and that's about where the similarity starts and finishes. Some great scenes in Zurich and Paris are the only other resemblances to the film.
I'd never read a Robert Ludlum book before but this has me searching for the next. It's written at a pace that keeps you hooked, the story is much more complex than the film and the characterisation and plot is a joy to read. I was hooked to the very last page.
On the downside, if you have seen the film one of the crucial story twists is known to you. If you haven't seen the movie - read the book first for this is how a thriller should read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2011
The original and best Jason Bourne novel, although if you're expecting it to follow the events of the film you'll be disappointed. The only similarity between this and the film is the plot device of Bourne waking up in the sea with amnesia. After that it's a nigh on a completely differently tale. Not that this is a bad thing. Ludlum's version is hands down the best of the two.
In such places as Marseille, Zurich, and Paris, Bourne races around trying to find out if he was a bad guy in previous life or a good one. Along the way he's hounded mercilessly by terrorists and also people from his own government, and he has to juggle all this with his blossoming `friendship' with economist Marie St Jacques (a character who gets much better treatment here than in the movie).
The book is simplistic at first but gradually becomes very complex. It's brilliantly woven together by the author though. You can read the book several times over and still find yourself unable to remember which part of the plot comes next. Dud chapters are non-existent. It's gripping all the way through.
It also has a terrific bad guy in the guise of the mysterious `Carlos', not to mention a whole bunch of other intriguing characters who pop up throughout the story. I refer to the likes of the unnamed `man with the gold spectacles', Johann, and my personal favourite, Rene the fashion designer.
Although set in the early eighties - near enough - this never detracts from the enjoyment. If anything, the lack of modern technology available to the principal characters only adds to the suspense. It's brilliantly refreshing to read something like this where mobile phones and the like don't yet exist.
Of all the books I've ever read, and I've read a LOT, this is my second favourite of all time. It's just a fantastic example of how to write a suspenseful thriller. Even if the film versions weren't to your liking, you might want to give this a try.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2003
A man presumed dead is discovered near the coast of France by a group of fishermen. He is suffering from amnesia and, having discovered the number to a Swiss bank account embedded into his hip, travels to Zurich in the hopes of discovering his true identity. His life is further complicated upon arriving in Switzerland, where he discovers a safety deposit box containing passports - each of which his and yet each of which for a different country of citizenship – along with a linguistic ability he didn’t know he had, and an exceptional knowledge of martial arts.
And so Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) embarks on a pan-European trip, in the search for his true identity, whilst at the same time avoiding those he had previously worked for, picking up German-born Marie (Franke Potenta) along the way, who of course complicates his life even more.
The Bourne Identity is a more unconventional action film than you will have seen up to now, but what it lacks in audacity it makes up for in ingenuity. Director Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) once again shows his ability to make films that quite simply look pretty damn cool – the pace of the film is great fun for the audience to watch – and he manages to extract some great performances from his cast.
Matt Damon is, admittedly, a somewhat unlikely action hero, but he manages to pull the role of Bourne off with a great deal of panache. The fighting scenes are interestingly conceived, and the lack of formulaic action sequences is a breath of fresh air. Potenta, Cooper and Owen, all of whom match Damon in terms of enthusiasm and energy, also seem to be enjoying the ride.
It’s not the most intellectual film you’ll ever see, by any stretch of the imagination – but at the end of the day, it’s got action, romance and a bit of a laugh…and it’s definitely worth your time.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2011
Robert Ludlum sets, in this book, the tone and pace right off the bat. The story rips along, the plot is a cracking page-turner, the pace is almost eye-watering. And yet... And yet, what? In the analysis, in the end, you kind of get the feeling that that's EXACTLY where it's at for Robert Ludlum. He's an action man. He's falling over himself to carry you to the point where he can tell you about the next broken bone. Or gun shot. Or car chase.
And that's great, but there's something about his style where - and maybe it's just something from a bygone age - but it just hasn't aged that well. I enjoyed this book, I really did. I just think there were too many missed opportunities - too much missed about moral question marks, too much 'blind faith' and love in adversity. Too many, bizarrely, introspection in italics. The spooks are conveniently just slightly incompetent, and yet somehow worthily blameless. Really? They do some pretty dark stuff, and I want them to be held to account. Bourne does some pretty dark stuff, yet kind of waltzes through it. The bad guy doesn't seem to do THAT much dark, and yet it doesn't come across as satisfyingly complex as I'm making it sound.
Nice try. But not quite...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
'The Bourne Identity' is the first, and best in my opinion, of a trilogy of films (followed by 'Supremacy' then 'Ultimatum', and the list may expand in the future...) based on the 'Bourne' series of novels by Robert Ludlum, with Matt Damon in the lead role as the CIA operative Jason Bourne. This debut film already dates back to 2002, but even then still managed to introduce a thrilling new, more 'gritty' style of action movie to the film world. Whilst a passing nod should be given to 'The Matrix' for stimulating a fresh approach to the included fight scenes, this movie rejuvenated the non-Sci-Fi action genre (rather like 'Die Hard' did over 10 years earlier) with a no-nonsense, ruthless, approach to the action whilst maintaining a credible plot - all supported by quality production values.
The move to Blu-ray for this film is notable, with a noticeably sharper image and additional extras to support the fact that by this time all 3 films had been made. It is, in my opinion, the only film of the 3 worth getting on Blu-ray (as opposed to DVD) as the filming method for the remaining 2 films does not offer much potential for improvement in HD and the quality of the extras drops with them. None of the films on Blu-ray offer a noticeable improvement in the audio department despite them offering DTS, as many versions of the DVD for this film also had DTS and the remaining 2 films don't really need the 'jump' in audio quality as there is less going on sound-effect wise in them.
The other notable aspects of this inaugural movie are that it is directed by Doug Liman (whereas the remaining 2 were directed by Paul Greengrass) and the excellent, rousing, original score music (written by John Powell) is made even MORE prominent by the inclusion of a number of popular songs to support the action. The most notable being a superb car chase embellished with 'Ready Steady Go' performed by Oakenfold and the end-credits bolstered by the Moby track 'Extreme Ways' (which is repeated in the remaining 2 films, albeit in slightly different variations). Liman did not disappear thereafter, he remained on the production staff from then on (as did Powell) ....
This film starts by introducing the Bourne character and the resulting confusion (for him as well as us !) about exactly who he is, why he is where he is and what he was up to - all questions he is asking as well ! All 3 films concentrate on this premise, with answers gradually being revealed, additional discoveries made and a quick realisation that everything revolves around the murky world of espionage and contract-killing on a truly worldwide scale....
Being the inaugural film, several significant long-term characters are introduced and the basis for the whole 'Bourne' mystery laid. It is pertinent to point out that you really need to watch all 3 films, and in order, as assumptions are made as things progress through them and in fact continue almost seamlessly from when/how the former film ends - a true trilogy ! Suffice to say that the nature of espionage etc explains why there are a lot of 'high-octane' car chases, extremely brutal hand-to-hand fight scenes (with a pen being the notable weapon of choice in 'Identity' !) interspersed by covert (and occasionally very overt !) information gathering; prepare yourself for a bumpy and violent ride which is nonetheless hugely entertaining and captivating. 'Identity' starts properly in Switzerland but from then on is mostly based in France (there are occasional 'jumps' to eastern USA).
And, in the interests of first-time viewers, that's enough of the plot I think as more would spoilt the surprises. Read the Amazon synopsis of the film at your peril and, most definitely, avoid the disc featurettes until after watching the film as WAY too many beans are spilled !
The initially 'bland' nature of the Bourne character lends itself very well to what I think is the rather bland acting nature of Damon, so the requirement to show little emotion also makes him a perfect fit for the character. However, to his credit what Damon also brings to the show are a credible sense of bewilderment, due to confused nature of his character, and a supremely agile physique to properly reflect what you would expect of someone skilled at killing and getting themselves out of very 'awkward' situations....
All the Bourne films feature action located on a global scale, but the especially refreshing aspect is how much is based in Europe. They also all share an excellent range of supporting actors, including the highly competent and convincing presence of people like Chris Cooper, Joan Allen, Franka Potente and the always excellent Brian Cox - but Damon is the only person in any of the cast to feature throughout, with one exception.....
As mentioned at the start, 'Identity' looks great on Blu-ray and also benefits from DTS due to the audio 'activity' being more notable than the remaining 2 films; everything is wonderfully sharp, bright and I think offers a fairly significant improvement over even an upscaled DVD. The only blemish is that, for my BR collection, the producing studio 'Universal' continue their 100% 'failure rate' of relying solely on the higher bit-rate/resolution of Blu-ray to improve the presentation and making no effort whatsoever to 'clean up' the image; whilst not as bad as other efforts (eg 'Casino'), there are still several distracting blemishes of the white 'speckle' variety which flash quickly and randomly onto the screen, the worst being near the start of the film when the fishermen are playing cards and their table activity is smattered in a veritable mini 'snow storm' of the blighters for several seconds....
Where Blu-ray also offers an advantage is with the extras, which add several new featurettes to the DVD (this time including coverage and interviews with Ludlum) BUT some are best left until you've watched the trilogy, as they tend to take advantage of having been made after all 3 films and feature clips/references etc which are liable to spoil things for later. The new 'U-Control' in-film feature also appears on the trilogy of Blu-rays, but when I could get a player which supported it properly (often the picture-in-picture was silent) it didn't seem to be that notable in content.
So, if you enjoy action movies which also include a bit of intelligence (of both kinds !) 'The Bourne Identity' is essential viewing. It should tempt you to continue with the trilogy, but don't feel pressured to get the remaining 2 films on Blu-ray as I think that the DVD, upscaled, will do just as well due to the difference in their filming method not properly justifying the need for an HD presentation. More is revealed in my dedicated reviews on Amazon for them....
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2003
If you have read the book, the film is a shock as the story line has little resemblance. Although the stories start the same, the book and the film soon diverge. Gone are the clever twists and turns, gone is the mystery and bournes feeling of utter dispair as sinister events emerge around him. Gone is the core of the original story, the international terrorist Carlos the Jackal and the complex intrigue around him, the international conspiracies, the betrayals and gone is the crucial leading lady (replaced by a much weaker character). The eighties version, with Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith was much truer to the book.
Having said all that, this film is very good. You become sympathetic to Bourne (well played by Matt Damon) who struggles as the wounded amnesiac who discovers his mulitple identities, that everyone he meets either wants to arrest him or kill him and his ability to disarm and disable police, soldiers and assasins alike. He slowly works out who is behind his problems, his true identity and role in the dangerous world he finds himself in. His leading lady doesn't need to be the strong willed doctor of the book, because there is less for her to contend with in this simplified plot.
The car chase is good, the martial arts are good and the modified story, despite some obvious flaws is good enough.
This is worth watching if the proper tale of Bourne and his complex Identity doesn't bother you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2010
The first Bourne film is exciting, imaginative and well-acted with a terrific plot even if it is not the most glittering showcase for HD. On the audio side there is nothing to criticise, with great surround effects, pulsating music and a perfect sound balance of dialogue to effects and music. Visually there isn't really anything wrong with this release as a BD, but it isn't a disc to show off your system. While there are superb close-ups with good amount depth and plasticity, longer shots are not always hitting all the right buttons for depth and sharpness. The look of the film is rendered faithfully, but this includes some yellow filtering and occasionally subdued colours which might disappoint some, even though they seem to be an aesthetic choice rather than any shoddiness.
It is a question of expectations. As long as you know this isn't going to look like "Transformers" you will probably be delighted with this; I never saw the HD-DVD version, so cannot compare, but it is comfortably better than the DVD. I paid 12 quid on release and was well pleased, for the current price you can't go wrong! There are also terrific extras including generous BD-Live content. Recommended.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2005
I too, like many people have offered reviews, saw the film before i read the book. After being pleasantly satisfied with what hollywood had to offer i was sceptical as to what the book could offer that the film hadn't already...
It took only the first few chapters for that scepticism to wash away, much like Bourne's limp body in the opening of both book and film. This book offer's more depth, twists, morale dilemmas, teasing questions, and surprising answers than the film could ever have done, even if it were to run for abother 10 hours. I ask you, in dilluded confusion, where was Carlos in the film? The most gripping, intriguing and heartwarming elements of the story are elated from the film for absolutely no reason!
"Bourne's" history is, in itself an intruguin story of loss and dealing with it, and the knock on effect leading to the pier in Marsaille is just bewildering.
The depth and detail of which Ludlum presents for Carlos' army of old men, and the tedious encounters around the analyst's conference room in the 'mighty' USA CIA headquarters, lend a delightful and delicate intricacy to a world unknown to all that read. Every strategic decision Bourne makes, based on his training, lends a new dimension to the stereotpyically 'Muscle-bound' world, that we so readily associate (through hollywood, i presume) to a spy.
Now for my complaints, of which i only have one:
Ludlum hints at the identity of a 'certain character' to be significant and, at the very least, surprising... Why was this abandoned?
Ludlum is, without doubt, the most accomplished Spy thriller writer of this century, and The Bourne Identity is his finest work.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2005
The Bourne Identity is an excellent, believable action adventure. It is tightly scripted, very well acted, tautly directed and packed with realistic action (including some very good car chases) and genuine tension. I suspect that one of the reasons that I (and others) like this film so much is that I stumbled across it by chance, watched it with no real expectations and was blown away by how good it was.
The plot is decent with some interesting twists. Jason Bourne is an assassin who fails on a mission, the film begins with him being rescued from the ocean. The rest of the film follows him as he attempts to discover who he is while avoiding the multitude of people trying to kill him.
Matt Damon (much to my surprise) is excellent as the amnesiac Jason Bourne and the supporting cast, particularly Franka Potente, Chris Cooper and Brian Cox, are very good.