Sunday, December 20, 2009
Movie Review: The Bourne Identity (1988)
This review is in reference to the 1988 television miniseries, and not the 2002 Matt Damon film. As you might know if you read my review of the book (which you should before continuing, as I will mostly skip what I covered there), you know I wasn't a wild fan. But this film adaptation was just so bad, it made me want to beg for the book!
Our first issue is with the actor. The then-closet, now-open homosexual Richard Chamberlain does one horrible performance. Lame, cheesy, not very manly, and also not at all skillful (Bourne was supposed to be one talented guy). Besides the fact that he just grosses me out to have to look at his face, honestly, he did a very shallow acting job. Jaclyn Smith, of Charlie's Angels and (and also K-Mart) fame, doesn't do much better, but she doesn't beat Chamberlain in his badness. The fact that I soon realized I'd have to plod through a total of 185 minutes of this was also somewhat unpleasant.
On the positive side, this version was much closer to Ludlum's book, and that wins points with me. However, while the Matt Damon one was so different that it didn't annoy me because it didn't feel like it was supposed to be "right", this movie's attempt to follow the book and then its tendency to veer off course and mess with the original story was aggravating. A few scenes have the script practically perfect, but the execution leaves much to be desired (what Ludlum writes as compelling verbal discourse, this film turns into groan-inducing). Tense and engaging parts in the book are now reduced to muddle and goo.
On the extra negative side, the two major issues I had with the book are still present here. [WARNING: Light sexual issues discussed.] Bourne kidnaps Marie, and later they also sleep with one another (it appeared that the camera was avoiding direct X-rated shots, but I'm not sure as I ended up availing myself of the mighty power of the "FF" button). What was even more, um, gross, was how bad you felt for poor Jaclyn Smith when she would later discover his "orientation." We also see a woman's dead body, naked but lying face-down on a bed with her waist and above visible.
All in all, we have a thumbs-down on the content just as in the book, but on top of that, we have one major thumbs-down from me on the movie itself. Stupid and horrible are good words to describe this. Bad, just plain bad.