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Clive Owen in ‘The Bourne Identity’

Clive Owen takes aim as the professional spy and assassin known as The Professor in the 2002 film The Bourne Identity. The man he was taking aim at was Matt Damon, starring as Jason Bourne, a secret agent struggling to make sense of his former murderous life as he battles amnesia. This was the best of the Bourne movies *by far* and we will not accept opinions to the contrary. In fact, we'd go so far as to say this is the ONLY good Bourne movie, thanks in part to the touch of director Doug Liman, who was inexplicably replaced for the later films. The character of The Professor is a fine example of why this movie excels: in just a few minutes of screen time, we develop a sneaking sympathy for this well-drawn character, even though he's out to get our hero. Credit to Liman and team, and credit especially to Clive Owen for making this character come alive in such a smart way. The rest of the Bourne movies are all soulless, jittery action and layers of CIA manager baddies tapping at computers and Bourne making frowny faces after he does something mean, to make it overly clear that he's a good man forced to do bad things. Ugh. But this original is a timeless gem and a one-off triumph, somewhat in the same way that The Fugitive (released 9 years earlier) was an unexpected delight that will always stand head and shoulders above the other work of director Andrew Davis. Let's also salute the fabulous work of Franka Potente as Bourne's partner on the run; she makes the whole thing work. And there's a happy ending! God bless everyone involved with this exceptional thriller.

See our biography of Clive Owen