I loved reading Robert Ludlum's books as a child. They were captivating page-turners, the likes of which I can't seem to find or experience today. The Bourne Identity, the film, captures a lot of the energy found in the book.
The story's protagonist is Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), who has lost his memory and must find out who, or what, he is. It turns out that he's no ordinary person: notwithstanding the paranoia, Bourne appears to have an heightened sense of awareness of people around him, and the knowledge to eliminate any potential threats in an effective manner. This makes his origins all the more interesting: will he turn out to have been a good guy or a bad guy? Aiding him in his quest is Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente), a German nomad who slowly learns to fall in love with him.
People have compared the film to Memento, but when I read it, it struck me more as a thriller where one lone guy goes against impossible odds against his own government, kind of like Rambo. The film portrays a vast conspiracy involving American government (CIA) agents all over the world who are programmed and trained to do things the American public wouldn't want to know about.
The acting is quite good: Matt Damon plays a great Jason Bourne, confused but confident. Franka Potente's swears like a German and is effective as his love interest. The pacing is tight, and there's little in the film that'll disappoint.
Like The Sum of All Fears, this film has the message that what goes around, comes around. In the end, the people responsible for Jason Bourne are forced to reckon with their creation. The film is worth watching if you want to reminisce about European scenery (especially Paris).