The first time around I missed the thrust of this film. Maybe it was the quick tempo or the technical spy jargon that is thrown pell-mell at the viewer in the first few scenes, but in any case I was quickly confused. By the time I caught up with what Jason Bourne might have been and who he was trying to be, I had lost my desire to care. When the film appeared again a few months later on Cable TV, however, I forced myself to watch it more intensely. Whether it was the manner I employed or merely because I had been previously exposed, the second impression became a more rewarding experience: I was able to follow an intriguing, rather than distorted, plot; the European locations took on more relevance as they richly enhanced the authenticity of the story; and the action served as a prism through which I could better understand the character of Jason Bourne. Eventually I realized that this is not, as I had initially believed, merely a movie peppered with special effects and computerized production to provide immediate visual stimulation. It is all that, but it is also a film of multi-layered substance, not least of which is its complex, sympathetic main character, who, gifted in intelligence and expertly trained, must overcome all odds. Opposed alike by those he was sent to destroy as well as by his own leaders, he must survive by battling, not with special James Bond-like gadgets from another world, but, more believably, with his wits and guile. His amnesia prompts him to search for his identity, but that quest also forces him to question his very role as a hired assassin, perhaps, with the support of a woman he has serendipitously met, regaining his sense of humanity along the way. We are ultimately, therefore, treated to a riveting, fast-paced, yet thought-provoking, odyssey. Matt Damon, appearing more comfortable and confident than usual, ably plays the part of Bourne, complemented by brilliant supporting performances from Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Brain Cox, and Clive Owen, who, with only a few lines, brings a ton of presence to the "Professor" character.
In the end, I was fortunate that I gave this movie a second chance. It's now one of my favorites.