Will Matt Damon’s ‘Bourne’ Be The Next Bond?

Actor's first action flick pulled from series of successful spy novels.

Hot on the heels of his buddy Ben Affleck’s box-office-topping “The Sum of
All Fears,” Matt Damon is ready for his action hero close-up with “The
Bourne Identity.”

Damon plays Jason Bourne, who wakes up on a fishing boat with a couple of
bullets lodged in his back, a Swiss bank account number embedded in his
skin, a deep knowledge of foreign languages and the martial arts and
absolutely no recollection of who he is. Oh, and several assassins are
trying to kill him. “The Bourne Identity” follows Damon as he pieces
together his missing past while eluding his would-be killers in increasingly
creative ways.

“It was four or five months of martial arts and boxing and weapons
training,” Damon said of his preparations for the role. “I do this for every
movie. For ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ I ended up stuck in a room playing the
piano for months and months. … This was a lot more fun.”

Damon is accompanied on his quest by Franka Potente (“Run Lola Run”), who
plays Marie, a girl Bourne offers $10,000 to give him a ride. The “Good Will
Hunting” star’s first major action movie also includes a brief but vibrant
appearance from Julia Stiles (“Save the Last Dance”) as a coordinator for
the team of bad guys hunting the amnesiac hero.

“The Bourne Identity”‘s many action scenes are infused with heavy doses of
style, reminiscent of director Doug Liman’s prior outings like “Swingers”
and “Go.”

“I just really responded to the script and to Doug Liman, who I think is a
great director,” Damon said. “Coming from the independent world, I just
figured he was going to do something pretty great with this one.”

Liman isn’t the first director to tackle this material. In 1988 Richard
Chamberlain, who starred as Allen Quartermain in 1987′s “Allan Quartermain
and the Lost City of Gold,” played Jason Bourne in a “Bourne Identity” TV
movie.

Though a spokesperson for Universal Pictures said there are no concrete
sequel plans, Internet rumblings have long suggested that “The Bourne
Identity” is intended as the first part of a trilogy, or perhaps even a
larger franchise. Which seems more than plausible considering that Jason
Bourne, like James Bond before him, is the fictitious star of a handful of
spy novels, including “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.”

Bourne was created by author Robert Ludlum, who wrote 21 bestsellers before
passing away at 73 in March 2001. Ludlum was widely regarded as a master of
suspense-filled and action-packed storytelling. He wove a variety of
intricate characters through several spy-oriented novels, and though Bourne
was perhaps his most popular protagonist, there were others, including
“Covert-One” series star Jon Smith.

If Damon proves to be as bankable an action star as Affleck, with whom he co-wrote and co-starred in the Oscar-winning “Good Will Hunting,” Jason Bourne could well become the next
James Bond. “The Bourne Identity,” moved back almost a year from its planned
fall 2001 release date, hits theaters June 14th.