The Bourne Identity appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an inconsistent and frustrating presentation.
Sharpness usually appeared fine. A few shots appeared slightly soft, but those occurred infrequently. Instead, the majority of the film seemed concise and well-defined – to a reasonable degree, at least. While delineation felt satisfactory overall, the image lacked the precision I’d expect of a 4K presentation.
I noticed no jagged edges or moiré effects, but moderate edge haloes appeared through parts of the film. I sensed some digital noise reduction as well, and that gave the movie a slightly flat feel. In terms of print flaws, I saw a couple of small specks but nothing more.
As befit an edgy thriller, Identity presented a fairly stylized set of tones at times that favored blue-green. The disc replicated the various tones in a semi-drab way that occasionally sparked to life – with a boost from the HDR – but the colors felt pretty bland.
Blacks looked deep and firm, while low-light shots depicted the action cleanly and accurately. It seemed clear that the 4K UHD just recycled an old transfer, and that left the result as a lackluster presentation.
Downconverted to DTS-HD MA 7.1, the DTS X soundtrack of The Bourne Identity nicely benefited the movie. All five channels provided a lot of information through most of the movie. Music showed good stereo presence and separation and also used the surrounds neatly.
For example, before Bourne came under attack in his flat, the rear speakers featured percussive music that added to the paranoid feeling. Effects blasted from all around us much of the time, especially during the action sequences. The front channels showed solid breadth and movement, while the surrounds kicked in a wealth of unique information that blended cleanly with the forward spectrum.
Audio quality seemed positive as well. Speech sounded natural and warm, and I noticed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music seemed clear and lively, as the techno-oriented score presented the right level of crunch and fuzz.
Effects appeared distinct and accurate and packed a solid punch as well. The movie presented very solid dynamics, with clean highs and some powerful but tight bass. The soundtrack of Identity provided a fine complement for the action that accentuated the material.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The DTS X audio brought a bit more involvement and punch.
Visuals became more complicated since it seemed likely that the 4K UHD simply reused the aging Blu-ray transfer. At its best, the 4K offered superior clarity, especially on those occasions HDR added to the impact.
However, the superior capabilities of 4K also made the transfer’s concerns more obvious, particularly in terms of noise reduction and edge haloes. The 4K worked well enough to offer a mild upgrade over the Blu-ray but the movie really could use a fresh transfer.
Only one extra appears on the 4K disc itself: an audio commentary from director Doug Liman. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the source and its adaptation, cast and performances, sets and locations, story/character areas, stunts and action, how he came to the project and personal influences, music, editing and related topics.
For the most part, Liman offers a pretty good look at the film. The only real negative comes from dead air, as we get more than a few lapses in the commentary. However, those occur mostly during the early stages – once Liman gets into a groove, he provides a more consistent level of information and allows this to become a pretty solid chat.
Everything else pops up on the included Blu-ray copy, and a few featurettes related to the novel’s author ensue. We get The Ludlum Identity (12:49), The Ludlum Supremacy (12:41) and The Ludlum Ultimatum (23:57).
In addition to archival comments from Ludlum himself, we hear from Liman, actor Matt Damon, director Paul Greengrass, friend/actor James Karen, literary agent Henry Morrison, Ludlum Entertainment CEO Jeffrey Weiner, author Eric Van Lustbader, producers Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley and Paul L. Sandberg and editor Martin Greenberg.
Across these, we learn about Ludlum’s career and writing processes, his style, subject matter and personal views, aspects of the Bourne series and its move to the big screen. These elements mesh together to give us some good info about Ludlum and his creations.
Cut footage comes via an Alternate Opening (2:16) and an Alternate Ending (4:56). These deliver bookends that spell out some character areas. They’re interesting but unnecessary.
We can view these with or without an intro from producer Frank Marshall, co-writer Tony Gilroy and actor Brian Cox. Though the disc credits this option as “commentary”, it’s really a video introduction. The men offer some good notes about the unused sequences.
After this we find four Deleted Scenes. We get “Wombosi on the Private Jet” (0:59), “Bourne and Marie By the Side of the Road” (2:29), “Psychologist Discusses Bourne” (1:46) and “Bourne and Marie Practice on the Subway” (1:42). We also locate an Extended Farmhouse Sequence (0:58).
These present clips that expand our understanding of existing situations but don’t bring out anything really new. The best one adds to the scene in which Jason entreats Marie to drive him to Paris; her choice makes more sense with this material included.
The Birth of the Bourne Identity goes for 14 minutes, 32 seconds and features Liman, Damon, Potente, Marshall, Crowley, and actor Clive Owen. We learn about cast and crew, the novel’s adaptation, shooting in Europe, story/characters, stunts and action and related areas. Essentially a promotional featurette, “Birth” doesn’t seem bad, but it feels redundant, as we hear most of its info elsewhere.
Next we find The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum, a five-minute, 44-second featurette. We learn about the novel’s author through interviews with editor Martin Greenberg, actor/friend James Karen, and Ludlum himself in an archival clip.
We learn about his early career and late start as a novelist as well as his take on his subject material. It’s not a deep program, but it offers a decent overview of the writer’s career.
Called Access Granted, the next component presents a four-minute, three-second interview with screenwriter Tony Gilroy. He goes over adaptation issues and the factors he wanted to stress in the movie. It’s a fairly useful look at the subject, though it also suffers from its brevity.
Another featurette called From Identity to Supremacy: Jason and Marie runs three minutes, 37 seconds. We hear from actors Matt Damon and Franka Potente as they chat a little about their experiences on Identity and set up the sequel. It lacks depth and mostly comes across as a way to promote the next flick.
For a look at the concepts behind the film, we go to The Bourne Diagnosis. The three-minute, 26-second program includes comments from psychiatrist Dr. Reef Karim. He adds a quick examination of Bourne’s amnesia in this mildly informative piece.
Another background featurette comes via the five-minute, 31-second Cloak and Dagger: Covert Ops. We hear from CIA officer Chase Brandon as he talks about the agency’s set-up, the work of field operatives, and his thoughts about depiction of various elements in the film. As with its predecessors, this show remains superficial, but it gives us an enjoyable and concise piece.
For another featurette, we find Inside a Fight Sequence. It runs four minutes, 43 seconds as we get a few comments from Damon about his training and working out the shots on the set.
However, the primary attraction comes from the behind the scenes shots, as they let us see how things took place during the shoot. They make this a nice little clip.
We also find a music video for Moby’s “Extreme Ways”. It mostly features the usual movie clip/lip-synch combination common for videos from films.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray, U-Control breaks into three options. “Bourne Dossier” gives us basics about locations, characters and other “Treadstone” elements, while “Bourne Orientation” offers more background for topics along the same lines. Both seem decent but not especially valuable.
Finally, “Picture-in-Picture” offers storyboards, behind the scenes footage, and inerviews. We hear from Doug Liman, Matt Damon, Tony Gilroy, Frank Marshall, Clive Owen, Franka Potente and Patrick Crowley.
The comments look at story/characters, cast and performances, Liman’s approach to the material, training, action and stunts, and locations and shooting in Europe. A lot of this covers territory already touched upon elsewhere, but we still get some decent notes here.
When it showed theatrically in 2002, The Bourne Identity did little to entice me, which is why I didn’t see it until years later. I’m glad I finally did, as the movie presents an intriguing and well-made variation on the standard spy flick. The 4K UHD offers erratic, dated picture along with excellent audio and a nice set of supplements. I like the movie but the 4K needs to be redone with a new transfer.
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