The Bourne Directory
For the made for TV movie, see The Bourne Identity (1988 film).

"He was the perfect weapon until he became the target."

The Bourne Identity is a 2002 spy film loosely based on Robert Ludlum's novel of the same name and the first film in The Bourne Film Franchise. It stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, an amnesiac attempting to discover his true identity amidst a clandestine conspiracy within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to track him down and arrest or kill him for inexplicably failing to carry out an officially unsanctioned assassination and then failing to report back in afterwards. The film also stars Franka Potente as Marie, Chris Cooper as Alexander Conklin, Clive Owen as The Professor, Brian Cox as Ward Abbott, and Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons.

The film was directed by Doug Liman and adapted for the screen by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron from the novel of the same name written by Robert Ludlum, who also produced the film alongside Frank Marshall. Universal Studios released the film to theaters in the United States on June 14, 2002 and it received a positive critical and public reaction. The film was followed by a 2004 sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, and a third part released in 2007 entitled The Bourne Ultimatum and a fourth installment The Bourne Legacy in 2012.


Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles south of Marseilles

During a stormy night, a body is seen floating among the waves, with a light flashing from it. A fishing boat passes, and a group of Italian fishermen are playing cards below decks. One of the men throws some scraps overboard, and sees the body out at sea. Five of the fishermen then haul the man onto their ship, believing him to be dead, but then see him move. They take him down to their card table and lay him flat while the ship's doctor gets his tools.

The doctor cuts off his wetsuit with a scalpel, revealing two bullet wounds in the man's back. The bullets are removed, and the doctor notices a scar on the man's hip, which he cuts into, finding a small metal device. As he examines it he finds it projects an account number for a bank in Zurich, before he is attacked by the man who has regained consciousness. The man asks what is happening, and the doctor introduces himself as Giancarlo, explaining that he is among friends and needs to rest. The man reveals that he cannot remember his own name, and faints.

Central Intelligence Agency, Langley, Virginia

In a part of the CIA, Daniel Zorn enters Alexander Conklin's office and tells him that they have confirmed the mission has failed. Conklin looks at a picture of a luxury yacht on his desk.

Back on the fishing boat, Bourne helps the fisherman while recovering from his injuries and trying to remember who he is. After two weeks on the boat, Giancarlo comes to see him, and Bourne tells him he knows how to tie knots and speak different languages, but still nothing is coming back. Giancarlo tells him to rest, as it will come back.

The next day, the fishing boat docks in Oneglia. Giancarlo gives Bourne enough money to get to Switzerland, and Bourne thanks him. He takes a train to Zürich, and ends up sleeping on a park bench in the snow.

Two police officers approach Bourne, asking for identification. When he cannot provide any, they start to arrest him, but Bourne reacts by disarming them and rendering them both unconscious. He flees the scene, discarding both his distinctive orange jacket and the policeman's gun.

Back at CIA headquarters, men are watching footage of Nykwanna Wombosi telling a camera that someone had tried to kill him. A CIA official explains that the footage is from Paris two days ago, and that Wombosi is a problem because he is writing a book about the agency that will detail names. Wombosi wants the CIA to put him back in power in 6 months. The official then explains that the director wants to know if anyone from CIA was involved in Wombosi's assassination attempt. Deputy Director Ward Abbott leaves the room, and meets with Alexander Conklin. Abbott talks about Treadstone, and asks if it has been involved with the attempt on Wombosi's life. Conklin says that they lost contact with their asssassin, but have been trying to find him for the last two weeks.

Gemeinschaft Bank, Zürich, Switzerland

The next morning, Bourne enters the bank. He asks to access his account, and so gives the number from the device from his hip. He takes a lift to a high-security vault, and is asked to scan his handprint into a machine. A safe deposit box is brought to him, which he opens to find a passport with his name, Jason Bourne, and a home address in Paris. Bourne then lifts the top layer of the box up to find several more passports containing his picture (under different names), large amounts of assorted currencies, and a 9mm SIG-Sauer SP2009 handgun. He empties the contents of the box into a red bag, but leaves the gun in the box and returns it. Before leaving he asks how long it has been since he was there, and is told about three weeks. A man watches him exit, then picks up a phone to make a call.

Bourne then uses a payphone to get himself connected to his home in Paris. He hears his own voice on a recorded answerphone message, so hangs up and crosses the street avoiding police. As he walks down a snow-covered road, Bourne notices a pair of police officers watching him from across the street; he quickens his pace and runs in front of a tram, only to look over his shoulder and see them following him. He reaches the US Consulate and waits in line, noticing a young woman attempting to get a Visa. When American and Swiss authorities attempt to capture him at the US Consulate, he offers Marie Helena Kreutz, a young woman in desperate need of money, $20,000 to take him to Paris, the city of the address on his Jason Bourne passport.

Meanwhile, Alexander Conklin (Chris Cooper), the head of the CIA black ops group Operation Treadstone, assures Deputy Director Abbott that he will destroy any evidence connecting them to the field agent (Jason Bourne) responsible for the failed assassination attempt on Wombosi. He activates three "assets" to take down their fellow operative: Castel, Manheim, and the Professor.

When Bourne arrives at the address on his passport, he is immediately recognized by the building superintendent, and based on the contents of his apartment, he concludes he is in the shipping business. In search of more clues, he hits redial on his phone and is connected to the Hotel Regina, who recognize one of his aliases from another passport, John Michael Kane.

Castel Fights Bourne

Castel fighting against Jason Bourne.

They tell him that Kane was a guest who died two weeks before in a car crash. As Bourne ponders this, Castel blasts through a window and engages Bourne in hand-to-hand combat. After Bourne subdues him he attempts to interrogate him, but Castel jumps out the window, preferring suicide (to interrogation by Bourne for information). Marie finds wanted posters in Castel's bag with both her and Bourne's pictures on them.

Bourne continually advises Marie to leave him as he's trying to figure out who he is and why people are after him. He tells her to go to the police and explain everything to them; she chooses to remain with him and encourages him to figure it out with her help. After eluding the Paris police and spending the night in hiding, they go to the Hotel Regina. There, Marie asks for John Michael Kane's (Bourne's) hotel records.

Meanwhile, Conklin plants a body in the Parisian morgue to fool Wombosi into thinking Kane, his attempted assassin, is dead, but Wombosi recognizes that the body is not his assailant, and Conklin has Wombosi killed in his home by the agent known as "the Professor". Bourne investigates the incident, the previous assassination attempt, and John Michael Kane's contacts, and concludes that he is the failed killer. He and Marie escape the city into the country to stay at the house of Eamon, an old friend of Marie's, where Jason decides that he no longer wants to be who he was.

In the morning, the Professor comes to kill Jason. Bourne uses a double-barreled shotgun to blow up a propane tank to distract the Professor (who was on a hilltop overlooking the home, armed with a SIG 550 sniper rifle) while he runs to the woods. Bourne ultimately shoots the Professor twice with the shotgun and interrogates him briefly, revealing their mutual connection to Operation Treadstone. The Professor dies almost immediately from blood loss, saying, "Look at us. Look at what they make you give."

Keeping $30,000, Bourne sends Marie away with the rest of the money for her own safety. He uses the Professor's cellular phone to arrange a meeting with Conklin on the Pont Neuf, which he uses as a distraction to plant a tracking device on Conklin's vehicle to discover the location of Operation Treadstone's safe house in Paris.

After following the vehicle to the safe house, Bourne uses an electronic device to trigger the car alarms of all the cars parked on the street, and when the noise distracts the guards, he climbs into the operation's safe house where Nicky Parsons and Conklin are.

When he meets Conklin, holding him at gunpoint, he finally begins to remember his last mission. He had backed out of the (officially unsanctioned) Wombosi assassination after seeing Wombosi's children, being unable to control his emotion. Bourne was then shot by Wombosi while escaping the fast-moving boat and left behind for dead in the water.

Bourne Walther

Bourne threatens Conklin.

After this memory, he tells Conklin that he is leaving Treadstone permanently and warns him not to try to follow him. He then realizes Conklin silently triggered an alarm and has backup on the way. Bourne leaves Nicky unharmed, has a shootout with several CIA agents, and escapes into the night. Abbott, having decided that Treadstone should be closed down for good, has the last operative, Manheim, murder Conklin with a silencer. Abbott then goes before an oversight committee and glibly explains Treadstone away as an ineffective assassin-training program, then immediately shifts the focus of the hearing to an idea for a new project codenamed "Blackbriar" (which is not addressed until the third film in the series, The Bourne Ultimatum). Sometime later, Jason finds Marie in Mykonos, renting out scooters to tourists, and the two reunite as the film ends.

Comparison with novel[]

The Bourne Identity Novel vs. Film Comparison


Director Doug Liman stated that he had been a fan of the source novel by Robert Ludlum since he read it in high school. Near the end of production of Liman's previous film Swingers, Liman decided to develop a film adaptation of the novel. After more than two years of securing rights to the book from Warner Brothers and a further year of screenplay development with screenwriter Tony Gilroy, the film went through two years of production. The Bourne Identity DVD commentary featuring Doug Liman (2003) From the onset of filming, difficulties with the studio slowed the film's development and caused a rift between the director and Universal Studios, as executives were unhappy with the film's pacing, emphasis on small scale action sequences, and the general relationship between themselves and Liman, who was suspicious of direct studio involvement. A number of reshoots and rewrites late in development and scheduling problems delayed the film from its original release target date of September 2001 to June 2002 and took it $8 million over budget from the initial budget of $52,000,000; screenwriter Tony Gilroy faxed elements of screenplay rewrites almost throughout the entire duration of filming. A particular point of contention in regards to the original Tony Gilroy script were the scenes set in the farmhouse near the film's conclusion. Liman and actor Matt Damon fought to keep the scenes in the film after they were excised in a third-act rewrite that was insisted upon by the studio. Liman and Damon argued that, though the scenes were low key, they were integral to the audience's understanding of the Bourne character and the film's central themes. The farmhouse sequence consequently went through many rewrites from its original incarnation before its inclusion in the final product. Other issues included the studio's desire to substitute Montreal or Prague for Paris in order to lower costs, Liman's insistence on the use of a French-speaking film crew, and poor test audience reactions to the film's Paris finale. The latter required a late return to location in order to shoot a new, more action-oriented conclusion to the Paris story arc. Damon described the production as a struggle, citing the early conflicts that he and Liman had with the studio, but denied that it was an overtly difficult process, stating, "When I hear people saying that the production was a nightmare it's like, a 'nightmare'? Shooting's always hard, but we finished."

Liman's directorial method was often hands-on. Many times he operated the camera himself in order to create what he believed was a more intimate relationship between himself, the material, and the actors. He felt that this connection was lost if he simply observed the recording on a monitor. This was a mindset he developed from his background as a small-scale indie film maker.

Liman approached a wide range of actors for the role of Bourne, including Russell Crowe and Sylvester Stallone, before he eventually cast Matt Damon. Liman found that Damon understood and appreciated that, though The Bourne Identity would have its share of action, the focus was primarily on character and plot. Damon, who had never played such a physically demanding role, insisted on performing many of the stunts himself. With stunt choreographer Nick Powell and trainer Jeff Imada, Damon underwent three months of extensive training in stunt work, the use of weapons, boxing, and eskrima. Damon eventually performed a significant number of the film's stunts himself, including hand-to-hand combat and climbing the safe house walls near the film's conclusion. Franka Potente's performance in Run Lola Run prompted Liman to approach her for the part of Marie Helena Kreutz. Liman desired to cast an actress who was unfamiliar to American audiences yet would be a suitable opposite for the Bourne character. Filming took place in Prague, Paris, Imperia, Rome, Mykonos, and Zürich; several scenes set in Zürich were also filmed in Prague.

The acclaimed car chase sequence was filmed primarily by the second unit under director Alexander Witt. The unit shot in various locations around Paris while Liman was filming the main story arc elsewhere in the city. The finished footage was eventually edited together to create the illusion of a coherent journey. Liman confessed that "anyone who really knows Paris will find it illogical", since few of the locations used in the car chase actually connect to each other. Liman took only a few of the shots himself; his most notable chase sequence shots were those of Matt Damon and Franka Potente while inside the car.

The inner workings of the fictitious Treadstone organization were inspired by Liman's father's job in the National Security Agency (NSA) under President Ronald Reagan. Of particular inspiration were Liman's father's memoirs regarding his involvement in the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair. Many aspects of the Alexander Conklin character were based on his father's recollections of Oliver North. Liman admitted that he jettisoned much of the content of the novel beyond the central premise, in order to modernize the material and to conform it to his own beliefs regarding United States foreign policy. However, Liman was careful not to cram his political views down "the audiences' throat". There were initial concerns regarding the film's possible obsolescence and overall reception in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, but these concerns proved groundless.


  • Matt Damon as Jason Bourne: an amnesiac assassin out of Paris who is being pursued by his former employers. Main protagonist.
  • Franka Potente as Marie Helena Kreutz: a Bohemian German traveller helping Bourne, who forms a relationship with him.
  • Chris Cooper as Alexander Conklin: the coordinator of Treadstone and Bourne's immediate superior.
  • Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons: a CIA field operative coordinating logistics for agents; she operates out of Paris.
  • Clive Owen as The Professor: a Treadstone operative based out of Barcelona.
  • Brian Cox as Ward Abbott: a CIA Deputy Director and Conklin's immediate superior.
  • Gabriel Mann as Danny Zorn: Conklin's assistant and a key member of Operation Treadstone's control team.
  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Nykwana Wombosi: a deposed African dictator who was Bourne's last target prior to his amnesia.
  • Nicky Naude as Castel: a Treadstone operative based out of Rome.
  • Russell Levy as Manheim: a Treadstone operative based out of Hamburg.
  • Walton Goggins as Research Tech #1
  • Josh Hamilton as Research Tech
  • Orso Maria-Guerrini as Giancarlo: The ship's doctor who tends to Bourne at the start of the movie
  • Tim Dutton as Eamon
  • Denis Braccini as pilot
  • David Selburg as marshall
  • Demetri Goritsas as comm tech
  • Anthony Green as security chief
  • Hubert Saint Macary as morgue boss
  • David Bamber as consulate clerk
  • Gwenael Clause as Deauvage
  • Manu Booz as Taxi driver
  • Philippe Durand as morgue attendant
  • Vincent Franklin as Rawlins
  • Paulette Frantz as concierge
  • Thierry Ashanti as Wombosi counsellor
  • Roger Frost as Apfel
  • David Gasman as Deputy DCM
  • Harry Gilbert as Alain
  • Delphine Lanson as Alliance Secretary
  • William Cagnard as Davies
  • Kait Denison as Bank Receptionist
  • Joseph Beddelin as Zurich cop
  • Rainer Werner as Zurich cop
  • Katie Thynne as Claudia
  • Aaron Lilly as marine
  • Ronald Benefield as marine
  • Bradley J. Goode as marine
  • Troy Lenhardt as marine
  • Joshua McNew as marine
  • Joe Montana as marine
  • John Pawlikowski as marine
  • Michael Rix as marine
  • Brad Rizer as marine
  • Andrew Webster as marine
  • Houston Williams as marine
  • Alain Grellier as Salvi
  • Arnauld Henriet as Wombosi bodyguard
  • Jean-Yves Billien as Wombosi bodyguard
  • Daniel Erskine Nartay as Wombosi bodyguard
  • Elvin David as Wombosi bodyguard


The critical reception of the film was largely positive, with the film review collection website, Rotten Tomatoes, giving the film an 83% approval rating. Roger Ebert gave the film three stars and praised it for its ability to absorb the viewer in its "spycraft" and "Damon's ability to be focused and sincere" concluding that the film was "unnecessary, but not unskilled". Walter Chaw of Film Freak Central praised the film for its pacing and action sequences, describing them as "kinetic, fair, and intelligent, every payoff packaged with a moment's contemplation crucial to the creation of tension" and that the movie could be understood as a clever subversion of the genre. Charles Taylor of acclaimed the film as "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" and praised Liman for giving the film a "tough mindedness" that never gives way into "cynicism or hopelessness". Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine also noted Doug Liman's "restrained approach to the material" as well as Matt Damon and Franka Potente's strong chemistry but ultimately concluded the film was "smart but not smart enough". J. Hoberman of The Village Voice dismissed the film as "banal" and as a disappointment compared against Liman's previous indie releases; Owen Gleiberman also criticised the film for a "sullen roteness that all of Liman's supple handheld staging can't disguise". Particular acclaim was directed toward the film's central car chase which was described as an exciting action highlight and one of the best realized in the genre.

In its opening weekend, The Bourne Identity took in $27,118,640 (USD) in 2,638 theaters. As of March 2007, the film has grossed $121,661,683 in the United States and $92,263,424 elsewhere for a total worldwide gross of $213,925,107.


Year Organization Award Category/Recipient Result
2003 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards ASCAP Award Top Box Office Films: John Powell Won
2003 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA Saturn Award Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film Nominated
2003 American Choreography Awards American Choreography Award Outstanding Achievement in Fight Choreography: Nick Powell Won
2003 Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design Award Feature Film - Contemporary Films Nominated

Releases and sequels[]

On January 21, 2003 Universal Studios released The Bourne Identity on VHS, and on DVD in the US in two formats; a single-disc widescreen collector's edition and a single-disc full screen collector's edition. Both contain supplemental materials including a making-of documentary, a commentary from director Doug Liman and deleted scenes. On July 13, 2004 Universal studios released a new DVD of the film in the US in preparation of the sequel's cinema debut. This DVD also came in two formats: a single-disc widescreen extended edition and a single-disc full screen extended edition. Both contain supplemental materials including interviews with Matt Damon, deleted scenes, alternative opening and ending, a documentary on the consulate fight and information features on the CIA and amnesia. The alternate ending on the DVD has Bourne collapsing during the search for Marie, waking up with Abbot standing over him, and getting an offer to return to the CIA. Neither contain the commentary or DTS tracks present in the collector's edition. The film was also released on UMD for Sony's PlayStation Portable on August 30 2005 and on HD DVD on July 24, 2007.

The Bourne Identity was followed by a 2004 sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, which received a similar positive critical and public reception, but received some criticism for its hand-held camerawork, which observers argued made action sequences difficult to see. The Bourne Supremacy was directed by Paul Greengrass with Doug Liman returning as a producer and Matt Damon reprising his role as Jason Bourne. A third film, The Bourne Ultimatum, was released on August 3, 2007 and was once again directed by Paul Greengrass and stars Matt Damon. Like The Bourne Supremacy, Ultimatum received generally positive critical and public reception, but also received similar criticism for the camera-work.

With the release of The Bourne Ultimatum on DVD, a new DVD of The Bourne Identity was included in a boxed set with The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. The boxed set is entitled The Jason Bourne Collection. The new Bourne Identity DVD is called the "Explosive Edition", which includes all the previous extra features as the "Explosive Extended Edition" plus Feature Commentary with director Doug Liman. However, the DVD itself does not contain the commentary, and so far, Universal Home Entertainment has made no effort to correct this problem. The spine number on this version of The Bourne Identity is 61103847.

Universal is moving ahead with a fourth installment of The Bourne Identity franchise. Though both Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass claimed they were calling it quits after the third installment, both are reported to be appearing in the fourth film.

Video game[]

In 2008, The Bourne Identity was adapted into a game, The Bourne Conspiracy.





External links[]


  • Clive Owen's character, the Professor, is seen driving a BMW. This could be a reference to his role as The Driver in The Hire, a series of short films sponsored by BMW in 2001 and 2002.