2004 Certificate: 12


Matt Damon steps up a gear as memory-challenged assassin Jason Bourne in the second breakneck thriller based on Robert Ludlum's bestselling novels. Tracked down to his Indian Ocean retreat by assailants unknown, Bourne finds himself framed for a botched operation in Berlin. Cue mayhem as he makes his way to Germany to clear his name. It's intelligent, controlled film-making from director Paul Greengrass, putting a fresh perspective on the "reluctant hero" angle, while taking audiences on the most bone-rattling car chase of the new millennium. Fasten your seatbelts!


  • Paul Greengrass


  • Matt Damon

  • Brian Cox

  • Julia Stiles

  • Franka Potente

  • Joan Allen

  • Karl Urban

  • Gabriel Mann


In the original Bourne Identity it was a challenge to remain convinced that fresh-faced Matt Damon could really be a ruthlessly clinical hired killer.

Seemingly straight out of school, he looked more familiar with the workings of a PlayStation than the complexities of a high-powered sniper's rifle.

However, two years down the line he appears to have grown into the role of rogue killer Jason Bourne, plagued by amnesia and double-crossed by duplicitous CIA masters.

When we left him he'd walked away from his former existence and is now enjoying the anonymity of Goan beach life with his girlfriend Marie (Franke Potente).

However, he's tracked down by Russian hitman Kirill (Karl Urban) who mistakenly takes out Marie but leaves Bourne alive... and extremely angry.

Four thousand miles away a CIA operation in Berlin to acquire secret Russian police files goes wrong... and the fingerprints on the blown job... are Bourne's.

Wracked by guilt over Marie's death and plagued by flashbacks, Bourne sets off across Europe to find out who sent Kirill and why he's being framed for a betrayal that occurred half way around the world.

British director Paul Greengrass, who made the contentious Bloody Sunday, has stripped things back to basics and tightened up the action in this coolly efficient sequel.

The plot, with its Machiavellian machinations, is given room to develop while the setpieces - including a superlative car chase through Moscow - boast a gritty realism.

Newcomers Joan Allen, as a rigorous but fairminded CIA manager, and Urban's icy killer, join Damon and Brian Cox as crooked spook, Ward Abbott.

The overblown dialogue which curses so many modern thrillers isn't here but there's still room for lines like Cox's warning to Allen: "You're in a puddle of sh*t... and you haven't got the right shoes for it."

There's also excellent use of locations, with Berlin's seldom-seen, grimy underbelly forming the backdrop to the action away from the usual tourist attractions.

It's intelligent, controlled film-making, stylish without slipping into parody, and has at its core the compelling premise of a flawed anti-hero who wants out.

Yes, it's that rarity... a thriller that actually thrills.

Tim Evans