The Bourne Identity


Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 38
  2. Negative: 1 out of 38

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A first-rate thriller with grit and intrigue to spare.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Blisteringly fast, Bourne also has a strong or striking supporting actor around every corner: Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles and Clive Owen in roles that range from meaty to amazingly small.
  3. One of those rare thrillers where the cops aren't fools, villains don't turn stupid at crucial moments, and career assassins seldom miss targets.
  4. Somehow the movie works like a clock. Its scenes and sensibility are all more than familiar, but it exudes a kind of nostalgic spy-movie charm and, at the same time, is so fresh and free of the usual thriller nonsense that it all seems to be happening for the first time.
  5. 80
    The full-throttle approach of director Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) is impressive.
  6. There isn't a dull or dumb moment in this movie.
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    The result is an escapist fantasy that is -- Damon's and Potente's persuasive performances aside -- as weightless and inconsequential as a musical. And at the moment every bit as welcome.
  8. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The movie is a generic paranoid espionage fantasy, but its proportions are refreshingly correct. It moves quickly, adroitly, and without fuss.
  9. This is an entertainment that really entertains because any number of interesting and unexpected choices were made, starting with the selection of Doug Liman as the director.
  10. 80
    Entertaining, handsome and gripping, The Bourne Identity is something of an anomaly among big-budget summer blockbusters: a thriller with some brains and feeling behind it, more attuned to story and character than to spectacle.
  11. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    The outcome is distinctive and entertaining. There's no way you'd mistake this for James Bond, and no reason you would want to.
  12. New Times (L.A.)
    Reviewed by: Robert Wilonsky
    Not only an exceptional thriller, but a transcendent summer movie: It assumes, for two hours, you've brain and heart enough to stick with a film that doesn't condescend, doesn't beat you up and doesn't dumb you to death.
  13. Newsweek
    Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It’s as formulaic as "The Sum of All Fears," but it feels fresher, hipper, less inflated.
  14. The Bourne Identity, like its hero, triumphs through sheer unreflective professionalism. It is, by today's standards, a modest thriller, with a self-contained storyline and with very few big special effects.
  15. 78
    Like its protagonist, it never hands you explanations on a silver platter, and it makes you think a bit, something far too few thrillers do these days.
  16. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: Michael Sragow
    The Bourne Identity keeps you in a state of nervous excitation from the opening shot to the fade-out and has a thread of deadpan humor that vibrates alongside the main action like a third rail quivering next to a hurtling train.
  17. New York Daily News
    Reviewed by: Jami Bernard
    Thrillers have become so gnawingly generic that The Bourne Identity wakes the senses without leaning on cliché and soundtrack.
  18. 75
    Liman packs enough firepower into The Bourne Identity to please the summer action fan, including a reshot climax that contains one of the niftier stunts I've seen recently. The centerpiece action sequence is a bravura car chase through Paris, yet the moments that bookend it are equally impressive.
  19. The result is not only entertaining but also refreshing, a shameless crowd-pleaser with a healthy cynicism about itself.
  20. 75
    A skillful action movie about a plot that exists only to support a skillful action movie. The entire story is a set-up for the martial arts and chases. Because they are done well, because the movie is well-crafted and acted, we give it a pass. Too bad it's not about something.
  21. 75
    Nicely paced and fits the bill for those in search of two hours of spy-based action and martial arts. The movie has credibility issues, but none are insurmountable in the name of entertainment.
  22. Damon, starring in his first full-fledged action pic, brings a determined bearing and believability to the proceedings.
  23. 70
    Though it's clearly meant to be character-driven, the movie is thrown out of whack by a total lack of chemistry between the leads, and some great acting (Clive Owen, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox) on the side.
  24. 70
    Director Doug Liman -- the hip skipper of "Swingers" and "Go" -- makes all the familiar dirty business seem fun and almost human. In these dog days, Bourne earns what passes as high praise: It doesn't suck.
  25. A lean, deftly shot, well-acted, weirdly retro thriller that recalls a raft of '60s and '70s European-set spy pictures. There are even moments when you hope it could turn into a modern "Charade."
  26. The problems with Damon's character are the problem with the movie: It's about plot mechanics, not heart and soul.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 388 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 92 out of 106
  2. Negative: 1 out of 106
  1. Sep 25, 2011
    "Bourne Identity" is a serious action movie that looks cool, but creating a game off of this might have been a better choice.
  2. Aug 21, 2012
    I will give it a 6 out of 10 because I found it too slow paced for an action movie, the first third of the movie was very entertaining butI will give it a 6 out of 10 because I found it too slow paced for an action movie, the first third of the movie was very entertaining but then after that it started to get tiring. Full Review »
  3. Sep 7, 2011
    From start to finish, this is a great movie. It's got just the right amount of suspense, just the right amount of action, just the rightFrom start to finish, this is a great movie. It's got just the right amount of suspense, just the right amount of action, just the right amount of character development. I don't have a single complaint about this movie. Full Review »