BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
The Bourne Identity ★★★★
The franchise started here with Bourne (Matt Damon) fished out of the Med, nearly dead from bullet wounds and suffering memory loss. Happily, the number of an enviable Swiss bank account is embedded in his skin and, armed with this, he sets out to discover who he is and what happened to him. Who he is, is a trained assassin for the CIA and his Washington boss (Chris Cooper) knows that and wants him dead because he failed an assignment. Other CIA agents, led by Clive Owen, are sent to dispatch him, but Bourne is skilled in absolutely everything – languages, weaponry, martial arts, high-speed driving, you name it. And he’s got all this money. Not an easy man to kill; much easier to be killed by, actually, as happens. The result: a fast, violent thriller, slickly directed by Doug Liman. Not much to engage the brain but plenty of spectacular action. Damon is good, so is Franka Potente as the obligatory girlfriend.
Anthony Hopkins returns to the role that won him an Oscar, as cannibal pin-up Hannibal Lecter, chewing the scenery as well as various body parts. The impressive cast includes Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and a particularly unfortunate Ray Liotta.
The African Queen ★★★★★
Almost a love story, nearly a comedy, not quite an action movie, John Huston’s classic about pious Katharine Hepburn and boozy Humphrey Bogart heading down river together is in a class entirely of its own.
The Forbidden Kingdom ★★★
Jet Li and Jackie Chan team up for the first time for a fist-filled actioner co-starring Michael Angarano as a teen whisked off to ancient China. Don’t worry: the violence is strictly cartoon level.
Donnie Brasco ★★★★
In this beautifully evoked 1970s-set crime drama, FBI agent Johnny Depp gets his lines blurred as he infiltrates the Mob through sleazeball Al Pacino.
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