The Bourne Identity (Jason Bourne, #1) The Bourne Identity discussion


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Best Spy novel and worst film adaptation ever

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Jenni I watched the movies first and really liked them, so I decided to read the books... The books were AMAZING! I loved them a lot, granted I think that once Ludlum died they ought to have ended. Although, Van Lustbader does a fine enough job. I think he's just milking them a bit too much considering Bourne is leaping from cars and doing all sorts of crazy stuff in his late fifties... he's getting old, Van Lustbader needs to let him retire for the sake of Ludlum's Bourne's memory. I got really peeved when I watched the movies again after reading the books because NOTHING was the same, even the villian and plot were different... :/


message 52: by Devan (last edited Feb 18, 2012 08:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Devan Sipher Andrew wrote: The Doug Liman/Tony Gilroy/Matt Damon take on The Bourne Identity is a pitch-perfect action thriller, one of the best of the last decade. The books should be considered as separate entities.

I completely agree. It's a little confusing and perhaps even disappointing. But they're two separate creations. The movie is a top-rate action film (which is unfortunately rare). However, the book may be the best spy thriller ever written. I read it years ago, and I'm still in awe.


Shubham Tripathi I think that the book and the movie were 2 different things.
They shouldn't have made the movie an adaptation, rather it could have been a different film. Using trademarkes Names , Characters & Stories and twisting them so much, I think doesn't do justice to Robert Ludlum, who was a great and superb writer.


Shubham Tripathi Andrew wrote: "The Ludlum novels were superb but of their time; when adapting them twenty years on, the filmmakers faced a choice: either make a period piece or bring the story up to date. They took the character..."

Personally, I feel there was nothing out-of-sync with the Bourne Novels for the times when the movies were made. As to not being able to tell stories in 120 mins, lengthier stories ahev been made into better films and those that resemble the original work (for an adaptation).
Bourne series could have made better films anyday. Even this day.


Shubham Tripathi Richard wrote: "Andrew wrote: "The Ludlum novels were superb but of their time; when adapting them twenty years on, the filmmakers faced a choice: either make a period piece or bring the story up to date."

I part..."


Very true..


Shubham Tripathi Claire wrote: "I loved the Bourne trilogy and they were my first venture in to Ludlum's library of novels. The creation of Jason Bourne was completely original and whilst they did drag in some parts, as spy novel..."

Sadly. Yeah...


Shubham Tripathi Christian wrote: "Eric wrote: "I thought it was a great adaptation. But I'm one of those who thinks that people who want to adapt a movie need to read the source material, then ditch it and write the movie in their..."

Sadly, yeah..


message 58: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann Gimpel Richard wrote: "Andrew wrote: "The Ludlum novels were superb but of their time; when adapting them twenty years on, the filmmakers faced a choice: either make a period piece or bring the story up to date."

I part..."


Well said, Andrew. I absolutely agree with you and, for once, can't think of a thing to add.


message 59: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann Gimpel Ann wrote: "Richard wrote: "Andrew wrote: "The Ludlum novels were superb but of their time; when adapting them twenty years on, the filmmakers faced a choice: either make a period piece or bring the story up t..."

Ah, whoops! Didn't realize it was a "double" post. I meant, Richard. Sorry! (Blush . . .)


message 60: by [deleted user] (new)

I read all three of Ludlum's "Jason Borne" novels, and they are every bit as good today as when they were written. Sure, they were long, and the plots were so involved that a movie adaptation could not be 100%. But come on - the movies might as well have been Alien Invasion skits. Hollywood took the whole premise of right and wrong (moral and amoral) and twisted it into a travesty that had nothing to do with the actual premise of the novels. They did the same thing with "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" when they made "Blade Runner." Yeah, the movies made money, but they gave up the soul of the books to do it.


Colette The book was WAY better then the movie!!


message 62: by Troy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Troy Disagree: There are better spy novels (Spy who came in from the cold & Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy come to mind).

And, I thought the movie was fantastic. Excellent choice in Damon. Enjoyed it so much I've seen it a few times.

As I never expect the films to match the books, I don't hold those expectations, and am never let down.


message 63: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 08, 2012 05:03PM) (new)

Colette wrote: "The book was WAY better then the movie!!"

Eight times out of ten it always is. Jaws being one of the examples when the book isn't better, and there is another book I'm thinking of but I can't remember right now.

I watched the movies first and I was kind of disappointed with Supremacy. Then I read the books and really hated The Bourne Supremacy. What a 180 from the book.


Alone I agree this book has the worst film adaptation. I read the book after watching the movie and I saw that more than 70% of both did not watch. If they only wanted the protagonist, they could have at least change the name of the movie......


message 65: by J.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

J.D. Goff I didn't mind the movies, but with only a very few items, the movie and the book are so far from each other that it's practically criminal to call them by the same name. The following movies departed so far from the books that the only thing in common is the main character's name. The story isn't even close. Disappointing, to say the least. Read the books, they're far better than the movies.


message 66: by Fred (new) - rated it 4 stars

Fred My biggest beef with this movie is that this is when I started noticing that action movies in general went to the shaky camera during action sequences. It could have started somewhere else but this movie was when I first noticed the trend and strained the eyes.


message 67: by J.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

J.D. Goff The Bourne Identity didn't use that, which was one of it's redeeming qualities. I like watching how good the fighters are. Directors say it makes the audience feel like they're in the fight. Part of the enjoyment of the movie for me isn't feeling like I'm in a fight. I like to see how awesome the characters are. In the Bourne Identity I could see how good he was. In the other movies, I didn't even know what they were doing half the time.


message 68: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Don't watch Quantum of Solace (also known as Quantum of Bourne)that 007 movie that totally copied Bournes last two movies albeit not as good.

The book The Bourne identity is a product of its time but still a very readable thriller that is a very good tale of espionage and assasination. The faithfull adaptation of the book is indeed the mini-series with Richard Chamberlain and Jaquline Smith. The free interpretation is indeed Matt's Bourne identity. The 2nd and 3rd movie have nothing to do with Ludlums novels.

The current Lustbader Bourne bookseries has more in common with the new cinematic character than the literary creation by Ludlum. In this series Marie is also tossed aside and has Bourne become more of a superman.


message 69: by Ging (new)

Ging I haven't read the book but I've seen the three films. I've read somewhere that, in the books, Jason Bourne is innocent. Can anyone confirm this? I'm just curious because, from what I understand, isn't he an assassin in Medusa?


Aditya Sharma I think the book is far better than the movie. The movie though is a vague adaptation. I sometimes fail to find any correlation between both. Having said that both works can be enjoyed but in isolation.


message 71: by Jarrad (new)

Jarrad okay i agree that the books and films are quite different.

but if you think the film trilogy with Matt Damon is bad, quite frankly i feel sorry for you. They might not be like the books because honestly who wants to watch a movie where half the time they are explaining things. i very much enjoyed the films and think it was a a great movie franchise (not including the new legacy movie) by if you honestly dont like the original movie trilogy you might want to watch them again. most people agree with me all the films have terrific reviews


Joanne I haven'tseen the movie so I dunno about the adaptation, but my favorite Ludlum will always be the first I ever got my hands on. The Gemini Contenders... not only my first Ludlum but my first spy book dad didn't know he was creating a monster.


message 73: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Jarrad wrote: "okay i agree that the books and films are quite different.

but if you think the film trilogy with Matt Damon is bad, quite frankly i feel sorry for you. They might not be like the books because ho..."


I am pleased for you that most people agree. I found the 2nd and the third movie vomit inducing because of the shaky cam work. And while the movies might be liked they have very little to do with Ludlums Jason Bourne, perhaps more with Lustbaders Bourne.
But as this is goodreads I honestly prefer the books over the 2nd 7 3rd movie. ANd find that Richard Chamberlains version of the Bourne identity is more to my liking. Damons Bourne is more the ADHD version for a new generation. I like my movies smart and making sense.


message 74: by jinxed (new) - added it

jinxed Emtee wrote: "They always have to leave things out of the movies. There is no way they could put in everything... and sometimes, we are lucky if they are even close. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy left out quite ..."

You do realise that leaving some of the part out, and changing the entire story are two entirely diffrent things , right ?


message 75: by jinxed (new) - added it

jinxed Amicus wrote: "Faithful to the book. More credible in every way."

please tell us all apart from the names, what else was faithful ?


message 76: by jinxed (new) - added it

jinxed Andrew wrote: "The Ludlum novels were superb but of their time; when adapting them twenty years on, the filmmakers faced a choice: either make a period piece or bring the story up to date. They took the character..."

the best bit the producers of the movie took were just the names .


message 77: by jinxed (new) - added it

jinxed With the LOTR movie they just left some of the part, to accommodate the more intrinsic values of the plot, but if they would have done that in the BOURNE MOVIE style, then what do you think the outcome would have been ???
. . . . . . Well they would have left SAURON out of the movie, made GANDALF the villain, and they would had finished the movie in the mines of moria, so that they could accomodate more fast-packed action scenes & special-effect.


Brian Nilansh wrote: "With the LOTR movie they just left some of the part, to accommodate the more intrinsic values of the plot, but if they would have done that in the BOURNE MOVIE style, then what do you think the out..."

Nilansh, just how do you propose filming these novels in a contemporary setting, given that Carlos the Jackal is a real person who currently is sitting in jail. Ludlum's decision to include a real-world villian forced anyone working on a movie adaptation either to set the movie in the 1970s or make drastic changes because at least some in the audience will know the real-world history of the jackal.

I, for one, was delighted to no have to sit through a long-winded explanation of what a fiche is and how it works.


message 79: by [deleted user] (new)

There were other movies with Carlos the Jackal in them. A names a name, so that makes no sense that you would have to set them in the seventies. And if you did, so what? There are many movies made set in certain time periods. That's part of film making - it's all make believe anyway.

I'm glad that you're glad that you did not have to sit through a long winded explanation of what a fiche is, but the fact remains the same; while the movies were OK, they were not Ludlum's Bourne and should have been called something else as they had nothing to do with the novels. There's such a thing as having to change some small items to make the transition to film; then there is keeping nothing but the names and calling it good.


message 80: by Karen (new) - rated it 1 star

Karen Really liked the movies so I thought I would try the book,I would stick with the movies. I could not endure the book.


message 81: by [deleted user] (new)

As movies they were OK. They had nothing to do with the books, though, except the names. Hence why they made the worst adaptation list.


message 82: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark I do prefer the 3 Ludlum books and dislike the Lustbader novels.

As far as the Damon vehicles go they are kind of decent thrillers with 2 of them with vomit inducing camera work. WHile nr. 4 "The Bourne legacy" no adaptation at all is vastly more like the ludlum tales.

As far as adaptations go the Chamberlain/Smith tv mini-series effort is vastly better.


message 83: by [deleted user] (new)

@Mark - I agree with you on the Lustbader novels. Kind of like fan-fiction, I guess. Also, I've heard this several times now, about the Chamberlain/Smith Miniseries. Checked with Netflix streaming and FIOS VOD, but no joy. I did find a used dvd of the series on Amazon for $18 so I ordered it. I love the Ludlum novels, but the Damon movies don't cut it for me. While as action flix's they are good, they are not Bourne.

@Karen - the movies were OK, but they have absolutely nothing in common with the books except the names. Ludlum can be long winded, but the books are excellent - the plots intricate, and the characters well fleshed out. I get tired of hearing people say they are dated, because they are not. To each their own, though.


William Stuart I loved the Ludlam books, especially The Bourne Identity, but I couldn't sit through the movies. I also couldn't bring myself to read the Lustbader books.


Brian Duane wrote: "There were other movies with Carlos the Jackal in them. A names a name, so that makes no sense that you would have to set them in the seventies. And if you did, so what? There are many movies made ..."

I think the Ludlum estate and his heirs would disagree with you about your claim that "while the movies were OK, they ... should have been called something else as they had nothing to do with the novels." I suspect they probably love the extra income and are not embarrassed whatsoever by the films.

The books and movies are two separate entities produced at two different periods of time but inspired by the same origin myth.

Are they different? You betcha. It that so wrong? Not at all.

I'd argue that the movies are better suited to post 9-11 America and that the liberties taken with Jason Bourne made the character and story more relevant to modern society.

The character of Batman has be reinterpreted countless times since his creation in 1939. The cheesy 1960s TV Batman coexists with original Golden Age Batman, who coexists with Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight" Batman and all of the various comicbook Batmans who have existed over the years, who co-exist with the various cartoon Batmans, who coexist with Michael's Keaton's Batman, who coexists with Val Kilmer's Batman, who coexists with George Clooney's Batman, who coexists with Christian Bale's Batman. Despite there being a broad spectrum of Batmans, all are inspired by the same archetype.

Same thing here.

In Jason Bourne, we're talking about a fictional character, not a historic figure whose legacy has been erased by revisionist history. For those who prefer Ludlum's original Bourne, the book are still there. The original character is still there. The plot you love is still there. For people to get their panties in a twist because movie adaptations — adaptations that were well-received by reviewers and audiences, BTW — didn't adhere to their rigid perception of a character is a bit ridiculous.


message 86: by jinxed (new) - added it

jinxed Brian wrote: "Nilansh wrote: "With the LOTR movie they just left some of the part, to accommodate the more intrinsic values of the plot, but if they would have done that in the BOURNE MOVIE style, then what do y..."

i will say that the makers shud hve left the unintresting n boring stuff, but kept the story same, moreover the novel n the movie r a wrk of fiction so it shud nt matter where was carlos whn the movie ws released, coz if u hve read the novel, n if u kno bout the real life carlos, dn u must b aware that they r quite diffrent, ludlums carlos was based/inspired frm the real carlos, it was not the real carlos himself.


message 87: by [deleted user] (new)

@Brian - So we just dump a load of crap on film, and call it good? Sure, the movie is fiction, and the book is fiction, but that doesn't mean the plot is still there, or any of the intent.

And I'm sure the Ludlum estate loved the money. Big deal. That doesn't make the Damon movies any closer to the books. I'm sure Charlaine Harris loved the money she got for HBO to pervert the Southern Vampires books when they did True Blood. That doesn't make the adaptation any truer to the books.

While this is an argument no one will ever win, the bottom line is, In My Opinion, the Damon Bourne movies, while good in their own right, will never have the intent of the books and to call them the "Bourne Trilogy" is laughable.


message 88: by J.S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.S. Colley I agree with the original statement: Loved the book, but the movie was just okay. Also, I like Matt Damon, but I just didn't see him as Jason Bourne. He's grown on me, though.


message 89: by [deleted user] (new)

I just finished watching the "Bourne Identity" TV Mini-series with Chamberlain/Smith. It was VERY good, and with a couple of minor omissions to move the thing along, and a couple of minor changes and a silly narrated speech at the end. this was the "Bourne Identity." All of the intent and action was there, so I guess you can make the transition from a spy novel to a spy film successfully while staying true to the author's intentions.


message 90: by Pranay (last edited Oct 31, 2012 06:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pranay Well there is a lot of dissimilarities between the book and the movie but I liked them both. Except the change of Actor playing Jason Bourne in the movie.

Both of them were as they should be.


Louis I read this book and absolutely loved it! I borrowed the movie from my neighbour, expecting an INCREDIBLE movie. As I had heard all the hype about the movies and just thinking about the movie from the book. I actually watched it and came out of it thinking. The book was SO Much better than that. Yes it was a good movie. But they cut out so much of the important things from the book.
Don't get me wrong, Bourne movies = great but; Books = Mind Blown!


message 92: by [deleted user] (new)

As others have said on this thread - the TV Mini-series with Chamberlain/Smith was quite true to the book. I found a DVD of it on Amazon for about $15.00 US, and was quite taken with it.

As I've said before, the "Bourne" movies were good, but there was no sense in calling them "Bourne" movies as they did not stay anywhere near true to the books. A rose by any other name....


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message 95: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Diaz Kenny,
I know you made this post awhile ago, but recently was in the exact same predicament. I read the book first and loved it. (Didn't realize it was so old!) When I watched the movie, I kept yelling at the screen telling them they were doing it all wrong.


Revan Andrew wrote: "The Ludlum novels were superb but of their time; when adapting them twenty years on, the filmmakers faced a choice: either make a period piece or bring the story up to date. They took the character..."

Completely summed up my own thoughts on the subject.


message 97: by Jjab (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jjab There was a T.V. mini series with Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith. It was a good adaptation of the book follows the story line almost dead on.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094791/


message 98: by Alex (new) - rated it 2 stars

Alex Interesting as I have the opposite sentiment.

If Ludlum were to write The Bourne Identity today, it probably would include the things that are in the Matt Damon films.

Living in a post-9/11 world, conspiracies, CIA black sites, torture, et cetera are all things that have become public knowledge and are in mainstream media. Look at the television series, "24."


Kathryn Manahan I loved the Bourne books, but I couldn't see Matt Damon playing the part of Bourne when there are so many other actors who would at least look the part. That kept me from seeing the films.


message 100: by Ric (last edited Feb 22, 2013 02:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ric Kathryn wrote: "I loved the Bourne books, but I couldn't see Matt Damon playing the part of Bourne when there are so many other actors who would at least look the part. That kept me from seeing the films." Yes, Damon playing the part broke the mystique of Bourne for me. Having read the books years ago, I would not have imagined Bourne would be anything like Damon. Bourne was the commonplace person whose face you would not remember. Of course, movies and books seldom match.


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