The Set of 400: #118 – My Favorite Dutch Mirror Interrogation

Today! Because you’re a malfunctioning $30 million weapon. You’re a total goddamn catastrophe –

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Directed by Doug Liman

Starring Matt Damon (x6), Franka Potente (x2), Chris Cooper (x2), Brian Cox (x7), Clive Owen, Julia Stiles (x3), Walton Goggins, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Gabriel Mann (x2)

That’s right, folks – all three Bourne films are on the list, and none cracked the top 100! Weird, right? First Toy Story, and now this travesty? Well, it wasn’t always this way. Without consulting past lists – I’m saving that for some unspecified time in the future of this countdown – I know at least two of the Bournes typically would crack the 100 – that was the entire size of the list in the past, you’ll remember. So what happened here? My guess is that as these movies tend to blend together for me, differentiating became harder and so they merged into this portion of the list – they all appear here between #118 and #195 – and could not push forward as a group or individually. As you’ll see when you finally get to the top 100 – starting day after Tax Day! Get your shit in order! – it’s comprised in near equal parts with gigantic films familiar to every living soul on the planet and an assortment of cult movies and/or downright disregarded household classics I’ve overcome my shame of admitting how much I enjoy them.

No matter how many times eight-year-old Joe watched it, Masters of the Universe wasn’t making the list, however

But apparently there was no room for even one lone Bourne. And I’m pretty solidly on record with strongly liking these films, so it’s hard to say exactly how they all ended up in the second hundred. As I believe I mentioned in the Ultimatum post, while I think the sequels are both better movies than the original, I feel like the degree of difficulty was higher to get this series off on the right foot, and so I’m most fond of the first film. Plus, unlike the other two, this one has Bourne with a sidekick almost throughout, which gives Damon more to do than just brooding and punching. I realize this relationship – and it’s, ahem, deterioration in Supremacy – is the catalyst for everything that follows, it’s still more fun to navigate the spy-jinks plot with someone to bounce lines off of, if nothing else. I also think Clive Owen makes for the best of the interchangeable agents sent to kill Jason over the course of the series, with his last line coming all the way around to being Bourne’s curtain phrase out in Ultimatum. 

Bookends!

I am surprised to find that this is the only Doug Liman film I’ve got on the list. When he started out in the ’90s with Swingers and Go, I thought this guy was the next big thing. And he continued making solid mostly action movies through the ’00s and ’10s, with Bourne, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Edge of Tomorrow, er, Jumper, but he’s never put together something you’d point to as his masterpiece. He didn’t return for the other Bourne movies – picked up by another dynamite action director, Paul Greengrass – and now appears to be falling into the Christopher McQuarrie trap of almost-exclusively directing Tom Cruise films. Don’t let Xenu suck you in, Doug!

Awards were not coming the franchise’s way until later, so they had to just rest on making enough cash to support sequels. The trilogy helps propel Matt Damon to the Six-Timers – the 11th person to reach that level so far – after #129 Ultimatum, #195 Supremacy, #208 Jay and Silent Bob, #186 The Talented Mr. Ripley, and #249 Ocean’s Eleven, but for the second time in three days it’s Brian Cox nabbing that spotlight, now having entered the rarified air of the Seven-Timers, joining only John Candy, Bill Murray, Robert Downey Jr., and Michael Keaton. Does Cox have the films left to grab the brass ring, after #184 Super Troopers, #278 Zodiac, #165 X2, #120 Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Supremacy, and #320 Match Point? Time will tell!

He was a pretty underrated Hannibal Lecter, but Manhunter still wasn’t making the list. Red Dragon or nothing!

Coming tomorrow! You two are just dumber than a bag of hammers!

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