Having grown up on Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, Bourne Identity was the first nitty-gritty action film I ever saw, and it completely changed the genre for me. It changed James Bond from being the slightly cheesy, ‘Bond doesn’t bleed’ franchise into the one we now know and love staring Daniel Craig as well. For my generation it was a game-changer.
What was so good about Bourne Identity, at least for me, was definitely the choreography of the fight scenes. This might be a strange thing for a girl to say she loved about the film, but honestly watching realistic fighting using whatever weapon you have to hand, even if it was little more than an ball point pen, was refreshing. At the time I was completely obsessed with Karate, and while the magical scenes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon thrilled me the realism of Bourne Identity made all my fighting training suddenly make sense.
But what I now really appreciate about the film is that the story is solid. The writing and the adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s book has stood the test of time. While I’ve had Ludlum’s books on my shelves for years ready to read, I haven’t yet got around to it, and part of it is because they daunt me. Considering I think the Silmarillion and the likes of Steven Erikson are light reading, for me to be daunted by a book is unusual.
And that feeling comes from having watched the films; the plot is complex and doesn’t not baby an audience by spoon-feeding them the storyline. The plot in the film is complex and usually when it comes to adaptations they have had to cut quite a bit of plot and detail out in order to make a film of a reasonable length. It just makes me wonder what could possibly be in the book on top of all that.
I know many people who like the Bourne films for the same reason I do, because Matt Damon gets himself into some great scraps, but then dislike watching them too often because the plot is too obtuse. In truth while I love the fights, it is the complexity of the plotting that brings me back each time, because the plot is what engages my brain. While I like escapism there are times when I don’t want to be bored and I’m never bored watching the Bourne Identity.
I also promised myself in my New Year’s Resolutions – Book Tag that I would read some Ludlum or le Carre at some point this year. Given the success of the Night Manager recently I might even get over the daunting feeling I get when I glance at the Bourne books on my shelves.