The Bourne Identity (1988)

Not to be confused with the recent Matt Damon vehicle, The Bourne Identity is a 1988 two-part TV miniseries based on the Robert Ludlum thick paperback best-seller. 'How can I find out who I am if I've been turned into another person?' Amnesiac Richard Chamberlain is fished out of the sea by drunken doc Denholm Elliott, who patches him up and discovers a Swiss bank account number sewn into his thigh. Coming to believe that he is Jason Bourne, international assassin, our hero is sought after by the CIA, several European police forces and the gang of an evil terrorist, hooking up with unlikely economist Jaclyn Smith to get to the bottom of the mystery, stay alive and face the big baddie. Stretched over three hours, this has room for a lot of the complex plot dropped from the big-screen movie, but this also means that the thrills are often interrupted by soap opera scenes. Chamberlain is perhaps too aptly cast as a man without an identity, but Smith matches him for lack of expression without any excuse given in the script. Aside from Donald Moffatt and Shane Rimmer in the CIA, the supporting cast mostly consists of distinguished Brits delivering value-for-money ham, mostly with cod-French accents, especially Anthony Quayle as a deGaulle-style General, Jacqueline Pearce as a dress-designing spy and Peter Vaughan as a heavy Swiss banker.
KIM NEWMAN

First published on Amazon.co.uk.


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