The Bourne Identity [DVD]
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Espionage thriller in which a man who has lost his memory but gained several bullet wounds must avoid assassins on his tail in Europe and try to find out who he is. Originally made in two parts for television.
Not to be confused with the 2002 Matt Damon big-screen version, this adaptation of The Bourne Identity is a 1988 two-part TV miniseries based on the Robert Ludlum paperback bestseller. "How can I find out who I am if I've been turned into another person?", cries amnesiac Richard Chamberlain, fished out of the sea by drunken doc Denholm Elliott, who patches him up and discovers a Swiss bank account number sewn into his thigh. Coming to believe that he is Jason Bourne, international assassin, our hero is sought after by the CIA, several European police forces and the gang of an evil terrorist. He hooks up with unlikely economist Jaclyn Smith to get to the bottom of the mystery, stay alive and face the big baddie.
Stretched over three hours, this has room for a lot of the complex plot dropped from the big-screen movie, but it also means that the thrills are often interrupted by soap opera scenes. Chamberlain is perhaps too aptly cast as a man without an identity, but Smith matches him for lack of expression without any excuse given in the script. Aside from Donald Moffatt and Shane Rimmer in the CIA, the supporting cast mostly consists of distinguished Brits delivering value-for-money ham, mostly with cod-French accents, especially Anthony Quayle as a DeGaulle-style General, Jacqueline Pearce as a dress-designing spy and Peter Vaughan as a heavy Swiss banker.
On the DVD: The Bourne Identity, though made for TV, is presented in widescreen, which sometimes chops off the tops of actors' heads like breakfast eggs but mostly looks fine. There are optional English subtitles. --Kim Newman
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an honest version the novel, reaching roughly three hours in length, and achieving much of the novel's assets. Don't let the fact this is a TV movie put you off, the action is intense, the violence is intact, and the plot is not altered. However, this is dated in a number of ways, not only the hairstyles, clothes and set pieces, but in the movie-making and dialogue, particularly the ... er.... 'steamy' love scenes, the more cringe-worthy aspects of the TV movie. The DVD has no extras, but the trasfer holds up pretty well. Definately a must-own (film wise) for fans of the novel....
Film fans: Stick to Matt Damon, this film won't please you much.
Novel fans: GET IT! The scenery and the actors are EXACTLY how I imagined it in the book! A lot of the lines are straight out the book as well. Brilliant.
The Bourne in the movie is much nicer. You have to make allowances for the transformation to the screen. However he does a lot more borrowing instead of stealing and is not as vicious with people on his travels.
Unlike the movie [Three Days of the Condor (see my review September 25, 2000)], they did not let director distort the story for his own agenda. Basic story is someone wakes up with amnesia and naturally must find out who he is and why someone wants to kill him? As with all the amnesia stories he could be good, bad, or (I'm not going to say ugly) the person he is seeking.
It's nevertheless worth seeing, more for the comparison's sake than for anything else, but still... The difference in film-making 20 years ago and now makes watching the 1988 version quite an amusing experience. Low-budget and very still, it's supposed to be more of a psychological story (with the stress on psychological) type than the new Matt Damon's version, which in turn is more of a thriller. I'm not a fan of Richard Chamberlain and this film hasn't changed my mind, as his acting is just mediocre.
Still, I enjoyed watching it as it was an utterly different story from the one with Damon and much more faithful to the book too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Arrived in good condition (new Dvd) but price was overrated compared with an identical DVD
that I had bought for a third of the price in exactly the same condition
I had this memory of having watched a wonderful film version of the book and so dug out the 1980s two-part series of The Bourne Identity. Read morePublished on 5 Nov. 2010 by AngusM