- Rated PG-13
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All photos © Universal
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
aniel Craig has a lot of people to thank for his role as James Bond in Sony’s reboot of the popular spy franchise, but no one more so than director Doug Liman. The first installment of the wildly popular Jason Bourne series single-handedly changed the espionage genre forever, and Bond producers have even pointed to the film as their inspiration for reimagining 007 for a new generation. Of course, Liman doesn't deserve all the credit, because while he may have gotten the ball rolling, it's director Paul Greengrass who made the series into what it is today with two action-packed sequels that make "The Bourne Identity" look tame in comparison.
A quick refresher course: Matt Damon stars as Jason Bourne, an assassin for a black ops division of the CIA called Treadstone who wakes up on a fishing boat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea with two bullet holes in his back and no memory of his past. When he hitches a ride with a gypsy named Marie (Franka Potente) to Paris to investigate further, he discovers that his former boss (Chris Cooper) has sent fellow agents to kill him for failing to complete his last mission. Bourne believes he’s finally ended the hunt when he erases all trace of his existence, but when his fingerprints are found at a murder scene that he had nothing to do with, CIA agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) reopens the case. Now hunted by the people who made him what he is, Bourne sets out to uncover the mystery behind his identity and stop Treadstone for good.
While the series can be credited for changing Daniel Craig’s life, it also changed the lives of those involved in the films – namely Matt Damon, who before he took on the role of Bourne had yet to prove himself as a box office draw, let alone someone that could pull off the physicality that comes with being an action star. The actor’s first onscreen fight (where he disarms three security guards at the U.S. Embassy in a matter of seconds) was all it took to convince the audience that Damon was the right man for the job, and the fact that he could also act only made his involvement that much more legitimate in the eyes of critics and moviegoers.
Along with making Matt Damon a movie star, the “Bourne” films also helped jumpstart several other careers – including those of director Doug Liman and actor Clive Owen – and delivered some of the best car chases and hand-to-hand combat scenes of the past decade. With Universal’s release of the trilogy on Blu-ray, fans can relive Bourne’s globetrotting adventure with a brand new high-def video transfer and DTS-H Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that is about as close to the theater experience as you’re likely to get. Additionally, all three films have been loaded with hours of bonus material from the previous releases – including director audio commentaries, deleted scenes and production featurettes galore – as well as Blu-ray exclusive extras like picture-in-picture video tracks and interactive dossiers.
For some, the additional special features might not be enough to warrant a double-dip (especially for those that already own the films on HD-DVD), but if you’re in the market for a high-def version of the trilogy, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Rarely do you a find series that is as consistently good as the "Bourne" films, and a lot of that has to do with the quality of the talent involved. Matt Damon is solid as the titular super spy, but it's the people who surround him (from co-stars like Joan Allen and Julia Stiles to writer Tony Gilroy and directors Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass) that make each film so well rounded. Everyone has their favorite (mine is "The Bourne Ultimatum"), but if you like one, you probably like them all.