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The Bourne Identity Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    It has a few whispers of intrigue, but at the heart of The Bourne Identity lies a dispiriting paradox: The more that Jason Bourne learns about himself, the less arresting he seems.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal 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.

  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today 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.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Violent but thrilling first of the Bourne action trilogy.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this thrilling action movie is packed with violence, including machine gun fights, intense hand-to-hand combat, a stabbing, and several glimpses of dead bodies with bullet holes or other wounds. Several scenes are packed with tension as the main characters evade police or other threats. Some angry confrontations turn violent. In one scene a character uses a dead body as a shield and a cushion for a long fall. The main characters embrace and kiss passionately in one scene without wearing shirts, though no nudity is shown. Language is strong, but not constant and includes "f--k," "bulls--t," and "Goddamn."

  • Families can talk about the violence in the movie. What was unique about the fighting style in this movie? Did it seem more or less violent than what you've seen in other films? Do you think Matt Damon's movements were exaggerated by special effects? How did seeing people killed affect you? How would those feelings be different if you witnessed these things in real life?
  • Talk about the government's role in political violence. How is it portrayed in the film, and do you think it's realistic? Do you think there really are agents like Bourne out in the world?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Definitely some mixed messages here. On the one hand, the film shows government as corrupt and manipulative and the main character battles against it in order to be a good man and live a free life. On the other hand, the extraordinary fighting scenes are what makes this movie so watchable, so while the ideals of righteousness and purity are celebrated, so is violence.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Bourne is a tricky role model. As a reborn man, he sheds his past identity and whatever bad things he did along with it. His new self is a good, honest, caring man who happens to be an exceptionally good fighter. He puts himself on the line to protect good people, and defends himself against the bad -- to the point of death. If he lies or manipulates, it's only to serve good. But he still kills people...

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Many fighting scenes, mostly hand-to-hand combat, but also with guns and knives. Some blood but no gore, other than a close-up shot of bullets being removed from a body. Several characters are murdered assassination-style, one jumps out of a window to his death. Several tense scenes, including two where children are potentially at risk of violence.

  • sex false2

    Sex: One very intimate scene that turns into passionate kissing. Shirts come off, though no nudity, and then the camera pulls away.

  • language false3

    Language: Strong language throughout, but not constant. A couple uses of "f--k," and "s--t," and a bit more of "hell," "Goddamn," and "for Christ's sake."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Definite product placement of a Mini that includes some very fancy driving and a brief close-up of the brand name on the steering wheel. Background shot of Air France plane.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some smoking and drinking in the background in several scenes. A main character drinks liquor from a bottle one time in response to extreme stress.