The Bourne Identity

Robert Ludlum created the Jason Bourne character in his 1980 book “The Bourne Identity. Bourne is a CIA agent who has amnesia he suffered from a failed mission.

The Bourne Identity, editorial content, spy movies, spy movie podcasts, espionage, Matt DamonSo he is set up to be a fascinating character, as he has the skills he was trained for in terms of fighting and deduction.  But who is he?  How did he get these skills?  He can’t remember.   Jason Bourne struggles to figure out his past, and this is what drives him in this movie.  And we see this theme again in the next books and in the movie series.

The Bourne Identity is a movie with not too many scenes that seem to be inspired by other movies.   So, original concepts abound.  The amnesia of an agent, the chases, the 4-story freefall, all appears to be unique ideas for a film at the time.

But, we will look at the key scenes, draw some connections to other movies, and see if we can gain any insights: 

  • Amnesia is not new to the Bourne series. Is it portrayed accurately?
  • Other movies mentioned: Two in the Dark(1936); Random Harvest (1942; Street of Chance (1942);  Stage Fright (1950), Female Fiends (1952; The Groundstar Conspiracy; Memento  (2000), The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996); Total Recall (1990); The Long Kiss Goodnight (1979); Finding Nemo (2003); The Fugitive; US Marshalls; For Your Eyes Only; The Master Touch; From Russia With Love
  • The car chase introduces a chase a la For Your Eyes Only with the Citroen, only here it is a beat-up Mini.
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As the first in a series, it prepares us for more to come.  And we get more with Matt Damon as the lead character, and we get one, The Bourne Legacy, where Matt Damon is not really in the movie.  They closed out the series, at least for now, with Matt Damon returning in Jason Bourne.

Come along – let’s dissect the key scenes, and see if there are any other connections to spy movies before or after.

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Curated Videos:

  • Promotional trailer for the 1988 miniseries

    starring Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith

  • The water and the boat

    The movie starts with crew on a boat in rough seas that sees a body floating in the water. It is Jason Bourne and he has lost consciousness.

  • No Papers

    After getting off the boat, Jason is sleeping in a park. Two police officers approach him and ask him for his papers.

  • CIA briefing

    This scene is a CIA briefing of Nykwana Wombosi, former leader of a country who is now in exile.

  • The Swiss Bank and safe Deposit box

    Jason Bourne goes to a bank in Switzerland and gets a safe deposit box. This was in the information in the metal object Giancarlo finds in Jason’s hip at the beginning of the film.

  • At the Embassy

    Bourne walks into the embassy just as the Swiss police show up to arrest him for the incident with the police officers in the park.

  • On the way to Paris

    On the way to Paris, they stop for gas and food in a restaurant.

  • In the apartment

    Once they get into Jason’s apartment, he gets calls the last number dialed and gets a hotel.

  • The Car Chase

    After they leave, the police spot him again and there is a car chase.

  • “The Master Touch” (1974)

    Not many movies have stairways as part a car chase.

  • Jason and The Professor

    The next morning Jason senses a problem. The family dog is not around.

  • The Safe House

    Jason confronts Conklin in the safehouse at gunpoint.

  • The final scene

    The movie ends with Bourne finding Marie in a shop/restaurant selling on a Greek island.