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<i>The Bourne Identity</i> Brings Spy Thriller to Movie Theaters - 2002-06-14

Matt Damon stars in a contemporary spy thriller based on the 1980 best-seller by popular author Robert Ludlum. Alan Silverman has a look at The Bourne Identity

Found floating in mid-ocean with bullet holes in his back, he can not remember who he is; but he soon discovers he has a determination to survive and the deadly skills to do that at all costs.

Eventually he learns his identity is Jason Bourne, a highly trained "black ops" or clandestine assassin for the CIA. When they realize he realizes who he is, his bosses - who, of course, deny any knowledge of his activities - have to keep him quiet . . . one way or another.

Matt Damon stars as Bourne, his first action role. "One of the reasons I wanted to do this movie was because I love the script and I thought the character would be so interesting to play, " he explains. "[Also, there is] the fighting style of Jason Bourne. Rather than have that kind of flowing, sweeping, pretty kind of 'Van Damme' kicks, it's a much more visceral, brual, real type of stuff that seemed appropriate for this character and this story. There's no gratuitous action. It's not one of those movies where they say 'Okay, it's been five minutes, we have to blow something else up.' It's a movie where you can actually feel the tension building. At the end of the day it's a genre movie, but one that was unique and original and worth the price of admission."

Damon says Bourne is a rare action film hero who uses his brain, trying to think his way out of tight spots and even checking a road map before setting out on a hair-raising car chase through the streets of Paris.

"I just like having a central character who has a gun in his hand in the embassy and throws the gun away," he says. "Instead, he takes a radio and a map and that's how he gets out. It's smart and cool and something that I haven't seen in action movies."

Franka Potente, star of the German hit Run, Lola, Run plays streetwise Marie, who inadvertently becomes Bourne's traveling companion.

"She's kind of a hustler," explains Potenta. "That's probably the wrong word, but she's like a cat, always landing on her feet. She has a lot of things going and I think she's a girl who has seen a lot. This is why she gets in the car with this guy who has blood on his pants. It's a little shady but she needs some money and she has a good sense for people, so I guess she thinks 'trust him.' "

Director Doug Liman, whose films include the cult favorite Swingers and the dark romance Go says he's been a fan of The Bourne Identity since he first read the Robert Ludlum novel when he was in high school; but Liman says there had to be changes to make it a film.

"If you just took the scenes from the book that you loved and strung them together it wouldn't work. It would work for the people who had read the book and knew it by heart, but it takes an aggressive approache to say 'what is it about the book I love?' Distill that, the essence of what it was in the book that you were attracted to, and then basically rebuild it. A movie is a totally different form," he says.

The Bourne Identity also features Chris Cooper and Brian Cox. It was filmed in European locations from Prague to Paris.