The Bourne Identity - Explosive Extended Edition

The Bourne Identity is a movie I liked less and less the further I got away from it. Initially I was wowed by its lean, mean construction, gritty bass filled soundtrack, and a great performance from the always reliable Matt Damon. But after seeing it again in theaters, it just didn’t seem to hold up. How would it seem now, over two years down the road on DVD? Pretty good. It’s still not the exciting surprise it was when I first saw it, but The Bourne Identity remains a solid and entertaining little foray into the Spy genre. The Bourne Identity Extended Edition was a good excuse to get me to watch it all over again.

The story is that of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), man without a past. Found floating in the middle of the ocean on the verge of death, he’s nursed back to health by the crew of a passing fishing boat. He doesn’t know who or what he is, nor how he managed to end up doing the back stroke alone in open water. Strangely enough, though he remembers nothing about himself, he does seem to have a wide array of odd talents. He’s an ace when it comes to beating people up, using guns, and escaping the authorities… and he has no idea why. Set upon by two cops in the park, he takes them out almost instinctively, and stands there looking surprised when he sees them unconscious at his feet on the ground.

Armed with his impressive array of talents, he enlists the help of a sexy transient named Marie (Franka Potente) and begins tracking down his past. His path leaves him embroiled in a European game of cat and mouse with the CIA, making Jason wonder whether or not he’s the good guy

The Bourne Identity remains a smart, taut little spy film, different from the rest of its genre mainly because of its simplicity. Director Doug Liman doesn’t go for over the top explosions and nifty gadgets. His spy succeeds through wits and skill, most of his battles reduced to quick hand to hand combat, with the movie’s biggest action scenes happening in a close quartered building between Bourne and a handful of agents. That makes The Bourne Identity an attractive and unique package, one which anyone can sit down and simply enjoy. I’m not sure why this disc even exists, except perhaps as a cheap way to take advantage of The Bourne Supremacy’s impending release and hopefully con people into buying more DVD’s. Sure, it’s an extended edition, but the extended stuff isn’t really worth the trouble. In fact they’re only giving you two scenes: A new beginning and a new ending. Neither is very good and the decision to cut them right out of the film was a pretty good one.

What I do like though, is that they give you the option to watch both versions from the menu, the extended or the original. If you select the extended, the movie plays as normal, except whenever there’s extra footage to be shown. Then a little image pops up in the corner of the screen for you to select. If you do, the movie branches off to show the little bit of irrelevant extended footage, and the automatically goes back to the film proper. Granted, it’s a little annoying to have to click a button to go to the extended footage after you’ve already selected to view the extended edition, but at least they’re giving you options. Besides, it’s obvious that not much effort was put into this disc, so they weren’t going to go to the money or trouble to re-integrate that extended beginning and ending back into the film.

The rest of the extras are mostly just a rehash of the stuff already released on the original “Collectors Edition” (a term thrown around way to easily on DVD’s these days) that’s been on shelves for some time now. There are a few measly deleted scenes, with an obligatory “play all” function. They throw in a lame Moby music video and a making of featurette. The only noticeable differences between this “Extended Edition” and the “Collector’s Edition” are the complete lack of commentary on this disc (a stupid decision since the Collector’s Edition had it), some boring documentaries about fight coordination and the author of the original books, and some new short featurrettes in which Psychologists and CIA Operatives give their review of the film. All should probably stick to their respective professions and leave the reviewing to semi-professional.

At least they’re giving you something free. Every copy purchased comes with a ticket to the soon to be released movie, The Bourne Supremacy. So even if the disc is a redundant release whose only improvement over the other Bourne Identity releases is a pretty cool cover, the sting isn’t so bad should you be tricked into buying it. Otherwise, if you’re a fan of the movie and you absolutely have to have it, you’re probably just as well off purchasing The Bourne Identity Collector’s Edition instead of this.