This is the review I submitted to IMDB for the Bourne Identity. The short version: rental, unless you’ve never seen the original film or read the book and are desperate :).
Sequel, then original, then book. That is the recommended order of exposure for any film, and this is no exception. I’ve never read the book, but did see the original movie, which was decent but not spectacular. When I heard about the remake, and then saw previews, I was pretty excited about seeing it. It looked as though they had significantly improved the action sequences, something that I felt the original film was lacking.
I was right about the action sequences. The fights are well choreographed, and the chase scene–despite the obvious tie-in with the new Mini campaign in the U.S.–was very well done. Had they just made these changes, I think the film would have been truly excellent.
But for reasons unclear (perhaps to draw a wider audience, or for easier international distribution), they dumbed down the plot significantly. The characters are made unidimensional (or non-dimensional, as in the absolute waste they made of Julia Stiles’s involvement), and the changes to the plot move it from Ronin to Mission Impossible: both required suspension of disbelief, but the latter also required suspension of thinking. Why is it that Hollywood refuses to make intelligent action flicks?
This one is worth a rental, if only for the action sequences. If you never read the book or saw the original, take a chance on it, I guess… 5/10.