The Bourne Identity (2002, Doug Liman)

Perhaps I’ve suffered my own bout of amnesia because I already can’t remember much of this movie. I remember it wasn’t as rapid-edit-afflicted as I’d heard, but then I realized that’s the two Paul Greengrass sequels that people have said each contain so many edits as to render the entire film a work of abstraction. I don’t see how that would be desirable, but I’m willing to give it a go. This one is by Doug “Swingers” Liman, who somehow pulled off a very competent, not over-stylish, gripping action movie before immediately falling under Greengrass’s shadow when Liman’s follow-up Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a critical bomb. Co-written by Tony Gilroy, all of whose movies I’ve been enjoying lately.

Matt Damon wakes up on a fishing boat after apparently having a change of heart about killing an African leader. The CIA doesn’t need an ex-superkiller roaming around, slowly regaining his memories along with a newfound conscience and thirst for vengeance, so bosses Chris Cooper and Brian Cox send bunches of faceless assassins (silent badass Clive Owen stands out just because he is Clive Owen) to stop him and hapless co-traveler Franka “Run Lola Run” Potente. Even with no memory (or because he has no memory: discuss) Damon is a super-effective instinctual ultra warrior who outthinks and outfights many assassins and possibly kills either Cooper or Cox, I don’t remember, before earning his Shawshank island retirement scene at the end.

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