The Bourne Identity: From Zurich to Paris
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, ex-CIA assassin on the run
Zurich to Paris, Winter 2002
Film: The Bourne Identity
Release Date: June 14, 2002
Director: Doug Liman
Costume Designer: Pierre-Yves Gayraud
The Bourne Identity was the first installment of what became a very successful trilogy—and, ultimately, a moderately successful series—starring Matt Damon as an amnesiac government assassin named Jason Bourne… based on a 1980 novel by Robert Ludlum that, as it happens, was also about an amnesiac government assassin named Jason Bourne.
After that, the similarities pretty much end, a byproduct of director Doug Liman asking screenwriter Tony Gilroy not to read the novel but rather to work from the director’s own outline. Many of Ludlum’s character names and a few expository details remain intact, but the 2002 film took Bourne’s story in a different direction with a refreshed tone, story, and plot. (Ludlum’s novel had been more faithfully—if less dynamically—adapted for a 1988 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain.)
This first Bourne flick gave a needed boost to the spy movie genre, balancing its cast of talented actors with relatively realistic action sequences and fight choreography that would even influence the stalwart James Bond franchise.
We meet Jason Bourne in the Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles south of Marseilles, when a group of Italian fisherman pull his bullet-ridden body from the water. Fluent in several languages but unable to recall his own identity—or why he has the code to a numbered Swiss bank account in his hip—Bourne spends two weeks with them, nursing himself back to health and maintaining his well-honed physique, all the while wondering who the hell he is:
What if it doesn’t come back? We get in there tomorrow, I don’t even have a name.
What’d He Wear?
The first we see of Jason Bourne, he’s unconscious in a charcoal wet suit with two bullet holes in the back, following what we learn to be his failed assassination attempt on outspoken African dictator Nykwana Wombosi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje).
The fishermen take some responsibility for Bourne, providing medical care and clothing from their hard-lived wardrobe. While the shades are relatively muted, the brighter red and orange hues of this outfit provide a colorful contrast with the more subdued shades of black, blue, and gray that would define Bourne’s “gray man” wardrobe through the rest of the original trilogy.
Given Bourne’s lean (yet muscular) stature compared to the hardier fishermen, their clothes are naturally oversized, also presenting the image of a man out of his depth, overcome by his circumstances (or clothing). He doesn’t look quite as desperate as a boy in his dad’s suit, but—in these early scenes when he is looking for transportation to Switzerland—he looks genuinely lost.
The top layer is a dark red down jacket, perhaps once a brighter color but reduced to a duller shade by the grime of extended periods at sea, where its water-resistant polyester shell would have been a considerable asset. Bourne’s borrowed coat illustrates why down jackets are also known as “puffer” jackets as the four rows of quilted air pockets add considerable heft to the hip-length jacket’s silhouette. The jacket has a red plastic-covered zipper all the way up the front, including the close up the puffed collar, which shows the jacket’s black lining and may contain a tucked hood. The set-in sleeves are finished with elasticized cuffs and there are slanted zip-closed side pockets at hand level. A large but faded black logo over the left breast suggests the jacket’s original manufacturer.
After finally making his way to Switzerland, he’s accosted by two police officers for sleeping in a park; even as exhausted as he is, Bourne’s instincts take command and he swiftly disarms both… much to his own surprise. He runs from the park, shedding the coat—both to aid him as he make his getaway but also metaphorically losing one of these befogging layers as he slowly begins to regain a sense of his identity.
Unfortunately, losing the coat leaves Bourne shivering in the pre-Christmas snow as he waits for the Gemeinschaft Bank in downtown Zurich, stripped down to a hand-knitted quarter-zip sweater in an ochre color somewhere between burnt-orange and camel-brown. The sweater shows considerable distress from the fishermen’s hard way of life, with a few moth holes in the back curiously aligning with where Bourne would have been shot in the back.
Gayraud explained to Pete Brooker on an episode of the podcast From Tailors With Love that he had the sweater—and its many multiples—made by “a knitting lady working in the countryside.” The body of the sweater shows a drop-needle stitch arranged in a neat grid of long vertical cells, with plain ribbing on the mock-neck collar, cuffs, and hem.
- ASOS Design Heavyweight Cable Knit Half Zip Sweater in mustard wool mix (ASOS, $36)
- Everlane Felted Merino Half-Zip Sweater in deep camel wool (Everlane, $155)
- Todd Snyder Merino Half Zip Sweater in camel merino wool (Todd Snyder, $144)
Under the sweater, Bourne’s base layer is a dark brown cotton long-sleeved T-shirt with navy horizontal stripes, similar to the Breton stripes popularized by the French Navy in the mid-19th century and—combined with the shirt’s wider quasi-“boat neck”—suggests an appropriately aquatic connotation for the fishermen to have in their wardrobe.
Bourne’s work pants are made from a slate-gray cotton canvas, rigged with belt loops but worn beltless despite being a little too large for him. (You’d think even with his access to ropes—and his clear ability to knot them—he could have improvised something!)
Based on the back pockets, side seams, and his penchant for denim, I had previously thought these were washed-out blue jeans, but they appear to be just flat-front canvas trousers. They have on-seam side pockets, and the large patch pockets in the back have horizontal top yokes and mitred lower corners.
Bourne wears a pair of weathered dark brown tanned leather hiking boots with lugged black rubber soles. An extreme close-up as Bourne navigates the embassy fire escape shows the distinctive Timberland logo debossed on the side of the heel.
The four metal D-ring eyelets for round red woven laces, the black textured rubber rand providing additional waterproofed protection between the seal and upper, and the lugged black rubber outsoles suggest align with Timberland Men’s Euro Hiker boots, an appropriate model for a man often on foot in Europe. (As of June 2022, Timberland still offers the Men’s Leather Euro Hiker!)
Returning “home” to his Paris apartment, Bourne takes off the sweater, removing yet another engulfing layer borrowed from someone else. One dead assassin later, Bourne reaches into his own wardrobe for the first time, pulling out an olive-brown polyester rain jacket that more closely aligns with the rest of Bourne’s “gray man” sense of style: dark, unassuming, and ultimately practical.
This lightweight, hip-length windbreaker has a wide, parka-style hood with a velcro tab to close over the throat. A zipper extends up to the neck, with an additional storm flap that closes over it with velcro. Two pockets are positioned over each side, each with a vertical zip-entry. The set-in sleeves are finished with wide velcro tabs over each cuff.
Under his clothing, Bourne wears white underpants—possibly either briefs or boxer briefs—and an olive-green cotton sleeveless “A-shirt” that recalls the sort of undershirt he may have worn while serving with the U.S. Army Special Forces.
In the upper tray of his safety deposit box, Bourne finds a stainless steel TAG Heuer Link Chronograph, which Watch-ID.com and Wrist Enthusiast identified as model #CT1111.BA0550, manufactured in 2001 so it would have been relatively new by the time Bourne placed it in his box. Suggested to be part of a product placement deal, perhaps at the urging of Matt Damon—who often wears TAG Heuer watches in real life—this same TAG Heuer model appeared on Damon’s wrist across the first three Bourne movies.
Powered by TAG Heuer’s 27-jewel precision quartz movement, this watch has a stainless 42mm case with two pushers flanking the crown. A stainless unidirectional bezel flanks the round black dial, detailed with three sub-registers, a small white date window at 4:00, and large silver-printed 12, 3, and 9 numeral hour markers, with the latter two overlapped by their respective registers. The watch fastens over Bourne’s left wrist on a bracelet of chevron-shaped links.
After leading half of Paris’ police force on a chase through the streets and—most impressively—finding a decent spot as soon as he pulls into a parking garage, Bourne ditches Marie’s Mini, dyes and cuts her hair, and begins dressing himself more in the wintry manner that we eventually see plenty of across the trilogy: dark coats, dark sweaters, and jeans.
Bourne’s story is well-translated by his attire throughout. When he is confused and out of his depth, he looks like it; when he is totally in control and about to kill a guy with a rolled-up magazine, he looks like it. His look had been established by French costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud:
We decided early on to keep a very simple look for Matt as Jason Bourne. The character begins with clothing borrowed from the fishermen who save him—very old, very dirty, a torn sweater, a filthy parka.
He later begins to establish his personality, but his clothes must never draw attention. He wears practical clothes, the kind you might buy in a military clothing store—T-shirts, jeans, boots. Later, as he needs to gain respectability to gain entry to offices and decent hotels, he wears a simple long black winter coat.
You can learn more about the style of The Bourne Identity by checking out the episode of From Tailors With Love as my friend Pete Brooker interviews costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud.
Bourne rotates through a trio of pistols through this first act of The Bourne Identity. After disarming two Swiss police officers in the park, he finds himself holding one of their service sidearms, a SIG-Sauer P225, which he appears to expertly disassemble before running into the woods.
Swiss firearms manufacturer SIG-Sauer had launched its innovative new handgun platform with the P220 in 1975, followed shortly by the more compact P225 variant, intended to meet new West German police standards and ultimately adopted as the “P6″ pistol. The P225 is a scaled-down version of the P220, the barrel length reduced almost a full inch to 3.6” but retaining its traditional double-action (DA/SA) trigger and SIG-Sauer’s four-point safety system of de-cocker, safety notch, slide notch, and firing pin safety. Chambered in only 9x19mm Parabellum as opposed to the wider variety in the P220, the P225 loads from a single-stack eight-round magazine.
Though he only briefly handles it in The Bourne Identity, the P225 would become Bourne’s primary weapon in the following entry—The Bourne Supremacy—after he disarms a U.S. Consulate agent in Naples of his sidearm.
Upon opening his mysterious safety deposit box at the Gemeinschaft Bank in Zurich, Bourne sifts through the money, passports, watch, and papers to find a SIG Pro SP 2009 and a full magazine loaded with 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition. Mystifying his former boss Alexander Conklin (Chris Cooper), the gun is all that he leaves in the box, though it’s likely less to “send a message” and more to avoid the legal hassle of being found armed in a foreign country where he can’t even explain his own name.
The first generation of SIG Pro models were introduced in 1999, indicating SIG-Sauer’s foray into the realm of polymer-framed handguns pioneered by Glock the previous decade. Within a year of the SIG Pro SP 2340 hitting the market, chambered in .40 S&W and .357 SIG, the 9mm-only SIG Pro SP 2009 was developed. While a compact version would also be made by SIG-Sauer, the SP 2009 itself was already relatively lightweight as a result of its polymer frame, weighing only 25.2 ounces.
The same year that The Bourne Identity was released, SIG-Sauer responded to French police standards by updating the pistol to the new SIG Pro SP 2022, which would also become Bourne’s main weapon in the third installment, The Bourne Ultimatum.
Finally, Bourne’s brief brawl with Marines and security officers at the U.S. Embassy in Zurich results in Bourne disarming the security chief (Anthony Green) of his Taurus PT945, which he briefly uses to subdue any other potential heroes in the lobby before he discards it in a garbage can.
As with the two other pistols, this would not be the PT945’s final appearance in the series, as Bourne later disarms a Treadstone agent of his suppressed stainless PT45 pistol and, not having time to rotate it into proper firing position, fires it upside-down with his left hand while firing a Walther P5 Compact with his other hand.
Go to the Gemeinschaft Bank or Go Home
What Else Was In Bourne’s Safety Deposit Box
Who has a safety deposit box full of money and six passports and a gun? Who has a bank account number in their hip?
In addition to the SIG Pro handgun and magazine, Bourne’s safety deposit box contained:
- Seven credit cards, including two Air France Club 2000 cards (#1324579830), two American Express Platinum charge cards (#3749 80000 01001), and two Gold MasterCards
- TAG Heuer Link Chronograph (CT1111.BA0550) wristwatch
- Plenty of money (11 packs of American $100 bills of $10,000 each, 3 packs of Australian $100 bills of $10,000 each, 2 packs of Brazilian 100 reais of 10,000 reais each, 2 packs of British £50 notes of £5,000 each, 3 packs of Chinese 100 yuan (¥) notes of 10,000 ¥ each, 4 packs of Dutch 250 note guilders from 1985 of 25,000 guilden each, 2 packs of French 500 franc notes of 50,000 francs each, 2 packs of German 500 mark notes of 50,000 marks each, 2 Italian 100,000 lire notes from 1994 of 10,000,000 lire each, 2 packs of Saudi fourth generation 500 riyal notes in 50,000 riyals each, Swiss 50 franc notes, 20 Moroccan Dirham notes)
- Six passports (an American “Jason Bourne” passport and “John Michael Kane” name card, a Russian “Foma Kiniaev” passport, a Brazilian “Gilberto do Piento” passport and name card, a Canadian “Paul Kay” passport and name card, and a French “Nicholas Lemanissier” passport and name card)
- French driver’s license
- French medical insurance permit
- Two French telecom telephone calling cards with Notre Dame imagery
- Purple MacHASP USB dongle/flash drive
- Philippi Little Loop stainless steel key ring
- Coast MT3900CP “Pocket Tool Box” multi-tool
- Two pens, including a black UniBall Eye Needlepoint (UB165)
- Two Elegance soft colored contact lenses and 2 cases
- Aitor ‘Gran Patrullero’ military Swiss Army-style knife of one long blade with can and bottle openers
- Lexon rubber-handled sport knife (identified by BAMF Style reader TFickser)
- Air France airline ticket
- Silver-edged pair of black onyx bar & link cufflinks
Aside from the gun, Bourne places it in all in a red canvas burn bag with the word “BRENNEN” on it.
The Color Red
You know how stop signs and stop lights are red? That’s because it would be dangerous for you to continue driving, at least without caution, through those traffic control devices. There, you learned something.
In The Bourne Identity, the color red signifies a call for help. When Bourne is first on his own, having left the fishermen and left to fend for himself, he is wearing a red coat. When he first realizes he can take care of himself (by beating up two Swiss policemen), he ditches the red coat during his getaway.
Then, at the bank, Bourne picks up a red burn bag that lands him in a whole new world of trouble that follows him to the U.S. Embassy. He is briefly relieved of his trouble when he drops the bag on the ground and evades capture. However, he naturally picks up the bag and approaches Marie who has reddish hair, red accents on her clothing, and—most of all—a bright red car. Bourne hops in with this blazing symbol of danger and goes to Paris, where he is shot at, chased, etc.
When does Bourne go from hunter to hunted? He ditches the red Mini. The next day, the black-coated Bourne is assertive and active.
Finally, Marie’s half-brother Eamon pulls up to the country house where Bourne and Marie are hiding out in a bright red Jeep. Obviously, Bourne hasn’t yet realized that the color red means he will be shot at or else he would’ve probably taken it on the arches until he was halfway across the world (SPOILER ALERT: He does that in the next movie). But, of course, Eamon signifies danger to Bourne. Bourne’s final threat, in the form of a bespectacled Clive Owen, is neutralized. Bourne hands Marie his last bit of red—the burn bag from the bank—and she leaves with Eamon in the red jeep. From here on out, Bourne is unstoppable… and unkillable.
Of course, when Bourne tracks Marie down in the finale, she still has the red bank bag, using it as a vase. This means: bad things are still yet to happen and there will be a sequel!
Or maybe I’m wrong and the props department was just able to get their hands on a lot of red stuff. Doug Liman, if you’re reading this, let me know if it was intentional.
How to Get the Look
Jason Bourne’s scrappiest and most colorful outfit—seen at the outset of The Bourne Identity—is the result of some clothing scrounged by his salty saviors, but a few repairs and alterations could result in a very utilitarian casual outfit for a chilly day, anchored by a puffer coat, quarter-zip sweater, and hiking boots.
- Dark red polyester down jacket with red-zip front, slanted zip side pockets, elasticized cuffs, and black lining
- Ochre hand-knitted quarter-zip mock-neck sweater with brass-finished zip pull
- Dark brown zip-up/velcro-front rainproof jacket with zip-fastening hip pockets & hood
- Brown and navy Breton-striped cotton long-sleeve boat-neck T-shirt
- Slate-gray cotton flat-front work trousers with belt loops, on-seam side pockets, mitred back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather Timberland Euro Hiker boots with metal D-ring eyelets, black textured rubber rand, and lugged black rubber soles
- TAG Heuer Link Chronograph CT1111.BA0550 stainless steel quartz watch with stainless bezel, black dial with 3 sub-registers, and steel chevron-shaped link bracelet
- Olive green cotton sleeveless “A-shirt” undershirt
- White boxer briefs
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the Bourne series.
I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs 215 pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?
Hey, good one, I never thought of the Bourne films for BAMF…I guess the takeaway here is to exclude red from your travel wardrobe when running from large groups of irate policemen is on the itinerary? Oh, and take the damn gun whenever possible.
Yes, avoid red at all costs!!
Knife is a Lexon rubber-handle sport knife…
Thanks! I will add this to the post.
Love this, but can’t see the photos as they’re too dark!
So who makes the brown coat with the flaps? I feel like it is made by a company called Barbour, but I don’t know. It looks like something that would be on a runway or something.
Would be cool to pin this down !