What makes this thriller so good is Damon's ability to merge the physical with the emotional; he's strong, skilled, and smart, but he's also generous, honest, and tender. The scene when he dyes and cuts Marie's hair is incredibly intimate, made even more potent by the near silence of the scene. In fact, for an action movie, The Bourne Identity is remarkably quiet. Neither lead character talks much, but both command the screen nonetheless. Potente (of Run, Lola Run) is an edgy choice of a love interest because she's sexy in an offbeat way, not a typical American movie star type -- which gives the movie a refreshing touch of realism.
Aside from the characters, the fighting scenes, which incorporate a martial art called Krav Maga, among others, are especially watchable. Augmented by the miracles of filmmaking, Damon moves so fast while beating a foe to a pulp that one almost expects him to break into a slow-mo Matrix moment (but thankfully, he doesn't). Teens will want to gorge themselves on the fighting scenes, so even though the violence is tamer than many R-rated action movies, some reality checks and moderation are, of course, in order.