Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Bourne Identity

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman who has seen the Bourne movies several times cannot possibly read The Bourne Identity book for the first time without picturing this:

Also, it's impossible to not compare everything that happens in the first few chapters to things that happen in the movie. It is obvious almost immediately that we're dealing with a completely different beast in the book. As I read on, it became even more obvious that whoever wrote the movie (IMBD tells me it is Tony Gilroy and W. Blake Herron) took almost nothing from the book. Here is a list of what the book and movie have in common:

1. The character Jason Bourne, who wakes up with amnesia and doesn't know he's connected with the US Government somehow, but knows all kinds of fighting and survival things (yes, that is my best technical description).
2. The name of Marie (different last names), the girl who helps him find himself.
3. The name of Conklin, someone back at the CIA who was involved in his past somehow.

That's it. EVERYTHING else is different. Now, I'm not totally dumb. I knew there were going to be differences - probably more back story, more details, additional characters, etc. But these are two completely different stories. It took me about half the novel to finally get over my anger that things were so different. And oddly enough, I was angry at Robert Ludlum, the author of the book, because his story wasn't as good. BUT, once the action started picking up in the second half, I really got into it, and ended up enjoying the book.

The Bourne Identity

By Robert Ludlum

This book has been out for a long time - the publication date on my copy is 1980 - so I'm not going to worry about putting spoilers in here - but you've been warned. In the book, Jason wakes up in the care of a doctor on an island off of France, and eventually makes his way to Zurich. While there, he gets found at the bank, but not before getting away with 5 million dollars of the US Government's money. While running away from bad guys, he kidnaps Marie, who spends the next 50 pages trying to get away from Jason. Later, after the bad guys took her, Jason, while hunting down the bad guys (for what reason, he doesn't yet know- nor does he know how he knows everything he knows), sees her getting raped. He saves her life, and kills some bad guys, but in the process almost dies. Marie in turn, saves his life, taking him to a hotel where he heals. She feels grateful that he saved her life, but she's also interested in this complex person who kidnapped her and used her to help him get away, but then later saved her life.

So from there, they start to try to dig into his past, and within a week they're in love. It's been traumatic for them both I guess. Seems to me that you'd need something more than that to really be in love, but what do I know? I'm totally simplifying of course, but eventually they figure out that Jason is bait and had spent years laying a trap for the most deadly and notorious European assassin, who has killed a ton of people. So, with the help of a famous French general (and some others), they are able to track him down, get Jason back to New York and into the hands of the CIA, but not until lots of other people die.

So, the end result is this: I liked the book. It was a typical thriller/suspense kind of book, but it was entertaining. It's not the type of story I typically read, but I still liked it. However, having said all that, I probably won't be reading any more of the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum. I'll stick with this Jason Bourne:

P.S. I heard recently that there's going to be a new Bourne movie: The Bourne Legacy. The sad part is that Matt Damon will no longer be Jason. In fact, there will be no more Jason. He's dead (don't know how they'll explain that). Instead, Jeremy Renner will be a new character who presumably has to live up to or deal with Bourne's Legacy. I have enjoyed Tony Gilroy's scripts so far, and I like Jeremy Renner, so I'll give this one a chance.

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