The film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novel released in 2002, The Bourne Identity is an espionage thriller starring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, who is recovered unconscious from the Mediterranean by Italian fishermen.
He is found to be suffering from gunshot wounds and memory loss, yet can speak several languages and knows advanced combat skills. The plot takes an even more sinister turn when the number of a safe deposit box in Switzerland is found in a device implanted in his hip. It contains numerous different identity cards and passports (all containing his photo), large sums of money in different currencies and a gun. Using the name on the American passport, Bourne sets off on a journey to try and find out who he really is and what's happened to him.
He's soon pursued by three CIA agents from Operation Treadstone, which is a Black Ops program that wants him dead. Realising he's being hunted, he takes off on an international search to find out the truth. His journey leads him to the Hotel Regina in Paris, where he discovers he's stayed before under the name John Michael Kane. En route, he meets German woman Marie Kreutz - played by Franka Potente – who he bribes to give him a lift to Paris. Needing the money, she agrees but soon learns that whoever is trying to kill Bourne is now gunning for her too due to her association with him.
A large part of the plot hinges on the use of high-tech surveillance equipment used by the CIA to track Bourne's whereabouts. During operations, the CIA is able to 'hijack' cameras almost everywhere to keep tabs on him. CIA chief Alexander Conklin (Chris Cooper) enlists the help of logistics technician Nicolette Parsons (Penina Mezei) to help him track Bourne and Kreutz all over the world.
On seeing Kreutz with Bourne on CCTV for the first time, Conklin tells his staff to enhance the image - and in doing so, he is able to identify her and learn her full family background within seconds by running the image through his computer. This furthers his investigation, as he begins to obtain phone logs for her family members. He identifies everywhere she has lived over the previous six years, in case she returns there with Bourne.
On arriving at the Hotel Regina in Paris, the fugitive knows it isn't safe for him to try and obtain the next clue - his alter ego Mr Kane’s bill - because the hotel is under surveillance. He asks Kreutz to get it for him and she does so by walking to the reception desk and posing as Mr Kane's personal assistant. However, due to the surveillance equipment, the CIA knows their every move and it isn't long before 'wanted' posters of the duo are on public display.
It becomes a race against time as Bourne desperately tries to piece together his life, while fending off various attacks from CIA agents desperate to cover their tracks and make sure Bourne is silenced permanently.
Without having to issue a spoiler alert - although most people will surely have seen this fast-paced espionage thriller by now - as the film reaches its climax, will the truth finally dawn on Bourne? Will he survive?
The Bourne Identity is the first of a trilogy of films based on Ludlum's novels and starring Matt Damon. The other two movies in the series in which he reprised his role are The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Damon chose not to return for the fourth film, The Bourne Legacy, in 2012.
Although The Bourne Identity portrays a sinister side to surveillance equipment, in reality CCTV cameras are a positive piece of technology which helps thousands of businesses, organisations and individuals to protect themselves and their property from crime.
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