Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, ex-CIA assassin on the run
Zurich, 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 starring Matt Damon as amnesiac government assassin Jason Bourne. The source material was a 1975 book by Robert Ludlum that was also about an amnesiac government assassin named Jason Bourne. After that, the similarities pretty much end – the names are still there, but the tone, story, and plot are incredibly different.
Giving a boost to the spy genre, this first Bourne flick set a foundation not only for its equally successful sequels, but several other movies as well.
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.
Much credit can be given to 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.
It also helps that most of the weaponry in the films are German or Swiss. For some reason, German and Swiss guns always look much more like brutal tools of espionage.
What’d He Wear?
The first thing we see Bourne wearing is a black and gray rubber wet suit with two bullet holes in the back from his assassination attempt on Wombosi. After he is pulled out of the water and brought back to health by the fishermen, Bourne is given clothing that is – ostensibly – theirs. The bright red and orange colors of this attire contrasts hugely to the black and dark gray costumes he wears through the rest of the series to blend in.
Also, all of the clothing is oversized – a huge sweater, a loose T-shirt, and baggy jeans. Not only does this keep him from being able to make quick and rapid movements with ease, but it also creates the imagery of a man out of his depth, being overcome by his circumstances (or clothing). He doesn’t look quite as desperate as a boy in his dad’s suit, but in the first few scenes when he is looking for transportation to Switzerland, he looks genuinely lost.
The most notable of these clothes is a bulky half-zip sweater with a thick needle drop pattern. The color is a hideous burnt orange that was all the rage as shag carpeting in the ’70s. The fact that Bourne is still able to look cool in the embassy scenes while wearing this sweater is a huge testament to Damon’s badassery.
Strangely, the sweater has rips and tears in the back that seem to correspond with where Bourne was shot in the back. However, this is just coincidence as he was only wearing the rubber wetsuit when he was pulled out of the water and no flashbacks show him wearing the sweater. Gayraud even mentions in his quote that they were looking for a torn sweater.
The jeans are a more European style, with deep and widely-cut pockets. The T-shirt is also very European, loose-fitting and dark brown with thin horizontal dark blue stripes. The crew neck is very wide open on the shirt. It is a style often seen at H&M, and I did read somewhere that most of Bourne’s T-shirts were either from American Apparel or H&M.
On his feet, Bourne wears dark brown hiking boots made by the American company Lowa.
Finally, Bourne is given a dirty dark red down jacket that keeps him warm while sleeping on a bench in a Swiss park. Unfortunately for him, he ditches the jacket while making his getaway from the park and is left to stand shivering in his sweater while waiting outside the bank the next day.
When he gets to Paris, Bourne wisely removes the sweater while trying to find clues to his identity (Oh, that explains the title!)
After killing another assassin (like you do), Bourne goes to his closet and pulls out a lightweight dark brown jacket. Unlike his previous outerwear in the film, the jacket fits well and the color is not visually offensive. We begin to see more of Bourne’s personality through the clothing: dark, unassuming, and practical.
The jacket has both a zipper and a velcro front. The hood can also be fastened in the front with velcro. There are two zip-up bellowed slash pockets for his hands and probably a few more inside and on the sides; it’s such a flappy jacket that it’s hard to tell where there’s a pocket and where there’s just a fold (for me anyway). The cuffs, too, are velcro.
After leading half of Paris’ police force on a chase through the streets and still managing to get a decent spot in a parking garage, Bourne ditches the car and completely alters his appearance, as well as that of his hostage/girlfriend/chauffeur/what-is-she-exactly? Marie. Since we never see the T-shirt, jeans, jacket, or brown boots again, let’s assume he burns them.
The next day, Bourne outfits himself in the dark coat, sweater, and jeans that become his uniform throughout the rest of the series. I’ll cover that in a later post.
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 the shit out of 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 – helpless herself – who has reddish hair, red accents on her clothing, and – most of all – a bright red car. Bourne hops in with this blaring 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.
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 gonna happen and there’ll 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.
Go Big or Go Home
The brief look we get into Bourne’s safety deposit box at the bank gives you a multitude of objects to try and get your hands on to feel like Bourne. The most noticable (and the one he leaves behind) is a SIG Pro SP 2009, a 9×19 mm Swiss handgun that I’ll discuss further below. In the meantime…
What Else Was In Bourne’s Safety Deposit Box
In addition to the SIG handgun and a magazine for it, Bourne had:
- 7 credit cards, including 2 Air France Club 2000 cards (#1324579830), 2 American Express Platinum charge cards (#3749 80000 01001), and 2 Gold MasterCards
- the TAG Heuer Quartz 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)
- 6 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)
- a French driver’s license
- a French medical insurance permit
- 2 French telecom telephone calling cards with Notre Dame imagery
- a purple MacHASP USB dongle/flash drive
- a Philippi Little Loop stainless steel key ring
- a Coast MT3900CP “Pocket Tool Box” multi-tool
- 2 pens, including a black UniBall Eye Needlepoint (UB165)
- 2 Elegance soft colored contact lenses and 2 cases
- a hunter green Aitor ‘Gran Patrullero’ military Swiss Army-style knife of one long blade with can and bottle openers
- an Air France airline ticket
- a silver-edged pair of black onyx bar & link cufflinks
He places it in all in a red canvas burn bag with the word “BRENNEN” on it.
Toss everything into a red string bag, hop into a beat up red ’89 Mini with splashy tires, and go driving around Paris with John Powell’s electronic/espionage soundtrack or Paul Oakenfold’s “Ready Steady Go” playing. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if you end up leading Paris’s finest on a chase around the city.
TFickser, a commentor on this blog, has identified the knife as a Lexon rubber-handle sport knife.
How to Get the Look
The look is easy enough to copy, but the Swiss watch and European flair to everything makes it a bit tougher.
- Dark red zip-up down jacket with a large black crest-like logo on the left breast, black lining, and two slash zip-up hip pockets… based on the clumping of the rear collar, it likely also has a hidden hood
- Chunky burnt orange half-zip mock turtleneck sweater with a brass zipper and minor rips and tears
- Dark brown zip-up/velcro-front rainproof jacket with zip-fastening hip pockets & hood
- Dark brown (with thin dark blue horizontal stripes) long-sleeve T-shirt with a wide crew neck – I believe the one worn by Damon in the flick is from H&M
- Medium wash blue denim jeans with a baggy fit and large rear pockets
- Dark brown combat boots – made by Lowa
- Tag Heuer Link Quartz Chronograph CT1111.BA0550 with a silver bracelet, round silver bezel, and black face
- Olive green sleeveless A-style undershirt
- White boxer briefs
When Bourne visits his safety deposit box at the Gemeinschaft Bank in Zurich, he sifts through the money, passports, watch, and papers and finds a SIG Pro SP 2009 and a full magazine with 15 rounds of 9×19 mm ammunition. While he reasonably takes the other stuff, he leaves the gun. I suppose this makes sense in the context of him already being scared and not wanting to be implicated by having a gun on his person, but I can’t say I would’ve done the same thing.
Bourne never actually handles the SIG Pro during The Bourne Identity, only actually arming himself with Clive Owen’s Walther P5 Compact later in the story, but as it was evidently his choice when he was an assassin, that’s the one I’m gonna be talking about.
The SIG Pro was developed in 1998 by the Swiss company SIG-Sauer and very quickly found use with the Swiss military. Evidently, even neutral militaries need weaponry. Who needs a gun when you have a knife that serves as a corkscrew, toothpick, tweezers, and scissor though?!
In 1999, the SP 2009 model of the SIG Pro was introduced, offered in 9×19 mm, .357 SIG, and .40 S&W. The 9×19 mm model of the SP 2009 model is compact and lightweight at 25.2 ounces. It is a traditional double action pistol with a short recoil system. The SIG Pro series marked the company’s first foray into polymer-framed handguns, made popular by Glock in the early 1980s.
A modified version of the SP 2009, the SIG Pro SP 2022, would become Bourne’s handgun of choice during the third installment of the series, The Bourne Ultimatum.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
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 two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab or 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?
I don’t want to write about the wetsuit Bourne wears when he is pulled from the water (really, why should I?), but duty compels me to provide readers with some information about it. It is up for a couple thousand at an auction and here’s the link: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/5468085.