The Bourne Identity: Movie vs Book vs TV Miniseries

I recently watched the Bourne Identity tv miniseries.  I then proceeded to watch the Matt Damon movie immediately after it and decided to write up my thoughts. When I remembered that I had read the book everything was based on, I figured why not do a 3way brawl and see which comes out on top?


The Movie:

Bad Will Hunting. Haha

This was my first introduction to Jason Bourne and when I originally watched this, I had NO idea it was based on a book or had been made before, or anything. An amnesiac with super special forces training on the run across Europe, outwitting other assassins, governments and falling in love with a euro-chick. The deal clincher that pushed this into awesome territory for me was the closing credit song, Extreme Ways by Moby.  It was a techno-beat song that fit the movie, with its fast, furious and brutal fight scenes.

Speaking of fight scenes. The pen fight versus the first assassin in the apartment building in Paris, awesome. It was understated, limited and yet showed the utter ferociousness of trained killers.

Still like this movie and still love the ending song.


The Book:

Should have been a hollowpoint!

Here’s my review from ’09:

The Bourne Identity

The long and short is that it was quite different from the movie in that it was set back in 70’s or 80’s, dealt with an international assassin (Carlos the Jackal) and Bourne was an undercover agent deliberately run amuck to attract his attention to bring Carlos to ground. Much more political, global and thriller than just an action fight book.

I was glad to have read it, but never had any desire to read it again. I read the next 2 books and the movies shared nothing with them besides the title and both books rather bored me.

This trilogy was the first, and last, Ludlum that I ever read.


The TV Miniseries:

Jaclyn Smith. I miss the Big Hair days 😦

Here’s the wiki link:

1988 Bourne Miniseries

Richard Chamberlin stars as Jason Bourne and it’s easy to spot that this was made in a different era than the movie. It’s not just the clothes, but even the fighting style. Most of the fight scenes were more like bar brawls with lots of gut punches and gripping of throats and slamming of hands against door frames. It is painfully obvious that “fighting” wasn’t an art like it is today.  Their idea of “martial arts” was throwing an arm up to block a punch. Sigh. Also, he’s a rather thin, gentlemanly looking fellow, not what I picture as a special special special forces kind of guy. Of course, to be honest, Matt Damon didn’t look like it either in the movie, so call it a draw for that.

This was a 3hr special divided into 2 parts and that allows for a much more nuanced story. It follows the book a LOT more closely than the movie. But maybe because of that, it’s definitely a Cold War style movie and if that’s not your thing, this will definitely be a watch once and move on kind thing.

That’s what it is for me. Glad to have seen it, but not impressed nor does it tempt me to watch it again.


The Winner:



Well, just in case you couldn’t tell from the descriptions, the Matt Damon movie wins hands down.  The ending song simply made any other choice impossible.

(Of course, you have to pretend that the latest Bourne franchise movie, Jason Bourne, doesn’t exist. Really, that’s one of those “they never made that movie” kind of movie, just like the supposed sequels to the Matrix.  They don’t EXIST!)


And just so I can stick this in the Food category as well, I was eating Gimbal’s Scottie Dogs Licorice. Getting to bite off little dogs’ heads, that’s just bonus, because nothing beats Black Licorice!


Yes, I proudly bit off Toto’s head






38 thoughts on “The Bourne Identity: Movie vs Book vs TV Miniseries

    1. Repetition is nature’s way of assuring permanence…

      It panders to the idea of “growing out of ” that there is some natural order or progression of texts, defined by a greater authority. People should feel free to read whatever they like. I’ve re-read some of my Phil Dick’s favourites last year and it was mighty interesting. I first read them when I was about 15 and have read and enjoyed them several times over the last decades. Someone might say I shouldn’t read crap like that. there is always a risk that this sort of pontificating says more about the critic than the criticised. Who says I am not gaining new experiences while still now and then visiting my favourite writers and their works? We know that human beings can do both, challenge themselves with uncomfortable stuff – and then reread a favourite, to ease their ruffled feathers? Just to move on again to “terra incognita” again …I have books I can nearly recite by heart (Heinlein, Phil Dick, Shakespeare, P. D. James, to name just a few). I also read new stuff. Why do we think humans can only do one or the other? It is not necessary to grow out of stuff about goblins, spaceships or superheroes, but it is better not to be limited to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Was this supposed to go under the Re-read post? If not, it sure fits for that one too 😀

        I’m all about the unruffling of feathers. It takes so little to ruffle me now adays (someone cutting me off in traffic for example) that I have to consciously seek out things to settle me down. Living vicariously through an action hero in a movie does that pretty good.

        And I definitely agree with your last sentence. “not be limited to it”. As much as I like Larry Correia, I also want to have the depth to appreciate Dickens, Eyre, Dostoyevsky, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I too didn’t know the movies were based on books when I saw it way back then, but I did enjoy Matt Damon’s run. I did have a desire to try out the original book trilogy at first, but at this rate, it’ll just be a lingering though until I suddenly get a HUGE UNCONTROLLABLE urge to try them. I didn’t know about the TV series though. Good to know it exists and does a better job in respecting the source material.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, don’t get too worried about respecting “source material”. The books aren’t that good, trust me 😀

      I don’t have any other Ludlum to compare them too though, so I can’t tell if they’re good or bad for him. An Erik Lustbader ended up taking over the franchise once Ludlum passed on and I guess he has written several more.

      So people, those nefarious, up to no good “people”, like the books. If you ever do watch the miniseries or read the books, I’d be extremely interested in what you think…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember reading the first book way back when, and not being greatly impressed by it, to the point I never saw the movies. Now that I’ve read your post, I think I will look the movies up, because I have an inkling I might like them far better than the book – which coming from me is a big admission… 😀 😀
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this matchup! I read the books first, but have also seen all the movies and the miniseries. This is one of the cases where the movie adaptation truly adapted the story well for the screen. It was fun to see the miniseries since it followed the story more closely but in the end didn’t do much for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree, Damon was a better fit for an adaptation. He wasn’t big, but he looked physical enough. Too big and a spy stands out. Too willowy and it isn’t believable that he could actually win a fight.

    The Bourne book/film was the reason I started my series on book adaptations. I’ve never quite understood the thinking behind adaptations that clearly aren’t utilising the source material.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This reminds me of some stuff I’ve been putting off on my own blog. I did a Logan’s Run movie vs book, and have been meaning to do more movie vs book posts. I’ll probably do Soylent Green as my next one, but not sure when I’ll get to it.

    I also read a book by Clive Cussler (because I gave it to my mom as a present) and plan to post about the similarities and differences of that thriller to SFF novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I wonder what motivated the movie makers to pick this book. I haven’t read the bourne series, but I one of his other books that comes to mind is “The Sigma Protocol”.

    Liked by 1 person

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