the film snob

A cyberspace journal about my experiences as an NYU film school grad student, reviews of current and classic films, film and TV news, and the rants and raves of an admitted (and unapologetic) film snob.

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Esse Quam Videri -- To be, rather than to appear

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bourne, Jason Bourne

I write film and TV reviews at Here are synopsis' and links to those reviews.

For decades, James Bond was the unassailable gold standard for the spy movie genre. Then, in 2001, came a remake of a TV movie based on a decades old novel, The Bourne Identity. And nothing was ever the same again.

It’s not just any film that can claim to have made such an impact in Hollywood that it sent one of the most popular film franchises of all time scrambling to discover if imitation was indeed the sincerest form of flattery (Casino Royale anyone?). Yet that is exactly what the Bourne films did, forcing James Bond to come back down to earth and refashion himself in a more realistic mold for a new millennium.

Reimaginings (as opposed to remakes) are all the rage these days. From Batman to Battlestar Galactica, Hollywood is breathing fresh, new life into old ideas by retooling familiar stories at a cellular level rather than simply slapping on a contemporary coat of paint. The Bourne films are the best spycraft entries in decades, using a tried and true Robert Ludlum core to radiate distinctly post 9/11 anxieties.

Jason Bourne wakes up one day, half dead and without any memory of who he is or why three bullets are embedded in his back. Over three films (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum), he faces overwhelming odds in a fight to stay alive and discover the secrets of his past. Is he a hero or a villain? Why does the U.S. government want him dead? Haunted by snatches of memory he cannot reconcile and tormented by the never-ending blood on his hands — even the blood of redemptive innocents he loved — Bourne is a contemporary knight in tarnished armor played by one of the finest actors of this generation, Matt Damon.

Combining edge-of-your-seat car chases, lightning fast fight scenes with a brutally creative use of improvised weaponry, exotic locales with European sensibilities, and retro-American conspiratorial intrigue at the highest levels of our democracy, the Bourne films juggle realism and escapism with an unnatural ease that has made Bond, James Bond blush in shame.

To read the full review, click here.


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