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Soundtrack review: The Bourne Identity (John Powell – 2002)

Composer of the month John Powell month

Soundtrack review: The Bourne Identity (John Powell – 2002)


“The Bourne Identity” was one of the rare cases where I was so attached to the original version of the movie that I didn’t get very excited when they decided to remake it. I still remember the hours spend following Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith’s adventures as Bourne and Marie, in a movie that followed exactly the story from the novel I had spent hours reading and re reading. There were times when I’d just be in the mood to read again the scene from the bank, or from Drei Alpenhauser, and I would end up reading 100 pages from Robert Ludlum’s novel. I have a strong emotional connection with the story, but it’s spent entirely on the first version of the movie.

For me, John Powell’s score for the remake is all about the opening motif. I can recognize in an instant those few notes that make for an almost siren like beginning of the score. They sound Bourne to me, they represent the character and the movie.

The rest of the score though doesn’t hold much excitement for me. Like the main character’s moves, the cues are sharp, focused and calculated. They are also cold. The percussion, the suspense, the electronic pulses, they all make for an almost generic action score that doesn’t hold a proper, memorable theme. There are moments when the music feels even claustrophobic. It moves very fast, it’s almost tribal at times and it supports the movie very well. As a standalone listen though, I am left only with that opening and with an ambient drive to Paris…

Cue rating: 58 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 2 / 55

Album excellence: 3%


The drive to Paris

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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