John Powell was asked to score 2002's "The Bourne Identity" on very short notice and with a very small budget, and thus created a very lean, electronica-based soundtrack. Later in production, some additional funds were found for live strings, and this would ultimately produce the signature "Bourne" sound.
The plot of the "The Bourne Identity" revolves around Jason Bourne's search for his identity after being found at sea as an amnesiac. He finds he has "secret agent skills" and with the help of the friendly Marie, is able to find out who he was. The middle part of the film finds Bourne pitted against various assassins who have been assigned to eliminate him. Eventually he faces his original commander and manages to extricate himself from the life of a trained killer.
Theme-wise, the Bourne films depend on only a few major melodic ideas, but skillfully develop them on various electronic and instrumental textures.
- Bourne theme: winding theme opening with a falling figure.
- Bourne ostinato: 8-accent (sometimes 6), double-stroked staccato theme, often developed with a leisurely bass line similar to Treadstone figure.
- Treadstone theme: guitar-driven, somewhat "rock" theme.
|A floating body is sighted
and recovered at at sea on a rainy night, main titles, the ship's doctor cuts
off Bourne's wetsuit to reveal bullet holes.
Bourne theme in bassoon over strings, rhythmic Bourne ostinato in marimba/strings/slams/percussion, various string themes in layers, ending with bassoon Bourne theme reprise.
|Bourne Gets Well
|Bourne helps out on the fishing
boat and tries to recover his memory. (followed by 5)
Held violins/ambient electronics, joined by bassoon theme/electronic percussion/strings.
surveillance tapes looking for Bourne.
He orders assassins to take out Bourne.
Agents around Europe are activated. (followed by 7)
Falling Treadstone theme in synth/piano/guitar, developed with drums/synth/organ/strings, joined by violin counter melody.
|At The Bank
|0:00: Bourne opens a safe deposit
box and finds his ID.
Low textures/layered string figures.
1:00: In a hidden drawer he finds ID for several other identities, money and a gun. He leaves the bank, and is followed.
Bourne ostinato in low rhythmic strings/low winds, joined by Bourne theme in violins, percussion, Bourne ostinato joined by violins, bass/electronica.
2:53: (Alternate) Bourne heads towards the American embassy to lose his pursuers. (followed by 6)
Electronics/percussion joined by rhythmic strings/drums, synth, ending in string accents.
|Bourne On Land
|After leaving the French boat,
Bourne gets on a train, wondering who he is.
He arrives at a dark snowy street. (followed by 4)
High rhythmic textures, joined by rhythmic strings/synth/piano theme.
|Escape From Embassy
|0:00: Bourne disarms some guards
at the American embassy and runs, taking out people as he goes. Bourne proceeds up stairs and is tracked by
Electronics/percussion into industrial/tribal synth/drums with ethnic string accents/Treadstone theme in synth/organ, building string accents.
1:54: (Alternate) He makes it to a fire escape and escapes by clinging to the wall. (followed by 3)
More subdued electronics/percussion, joined by steel drum ostinato layers, ending in strings.
|The Drive To Paris
|Marie drives Bourne at
Ambient textures with wordless male vocal, rhythmic marimba/string swells/bends.
|0:00: Bourne is attacked by a
blonde Treadstone assassin. The
assassin goes out the window. Bourne
tells Marie they must leave immediately.
Electronics/drums action groove developed through various dynamics/slams/strings.
1:47: Bourne helps a stunned Marie leave the building.
Low piano/strings/col legno accents/percussion, joined by string accents/ambients.
2:39: Nicky reports to Conklin that their assassin is dead.
Electronics/percussion with subtle Bourne theme elements.
(followed by car chase scene with Paul Oakenfold - Ready Steady Go)
|At The Hairdressers
|After Bourne dyes and cuts
Marie's hair, they get intimate.
Low ambient textures joined by marimba tremolo/acoustic guitar/strings.
|0:00: Bourne prepares Marie to
enter the hotel to get info. Marie
enters the hotel to recon the room.
Playful electronics/percussion/synth, joined by synth bass "mission" figure, snare, etc.
1:31: Bourne calls Marie inside the lobby for intel, but there is no answer (she meets him outside).
Bourne ostinato in strings developed.
|0:00: Nicky learns that the
police have found Bourne's car. A
dark-haired assassin (the Professor) gets a message from Conklin.
Synth groove with high metallic percussion motif/drums, joined by strings/bass/electronics.
1:21: Bourne pursues a lead in Paris and enters a building.
Bourne ostinato in strings, string harmonics.
|Bourne deduces that he was an
assassin who failed in killing a dictator.
They ride a cab in silence.
Bourne stops the cab and escapes when he sees police ahead waiting at
their hotel. Marie begins to freak
out, but Bourne calms her down.
Reflective/somber Bourne ostinato extended variation/ambient textures developed with acoustic guitar/drum/percussion and synth groove/extended. Bourne ostinato in strings, electric guitar arpeggios/ambient bass pulses.
|At The Farmhouse
|0:00: In the morning, Bourne
senses that something is wrong at the farmhouse. Bourne begins arming himself.
Percussion/electronics rhythm joined by extended Bourne ostinato in strings, developed with accents, drums.
1:35: Bourne blows up a gas tank to create smoke cover and walks into the woods. The Professor fires on Bourne and pursues.
Tribal drums/percussion with synth ambients.
|Jason Phones It In
|Bourne calls Treadstone and asks
what's going on. He tries to set up a
meeting. Conklin prepares to eliminate
him at the meeting.
Vibraphone-driven rhythm with male vocal humming, joined by strings/female humming/percussion/synth/acoustic guitar scrapes, synth/percussion/acoustic guitar groove with piano figure, string, synth.
|On Bridge Number 9
|0:00: Conklin boards a plane to
Paris. Bourne approaches the meeting
place bridge as Conklin gets armed up.
Bourne surveills the location as Conklin's men check in.
Electronics/synth/percussion, rhythmic strings into groove with Bourne theme elements, Bourne ostinato in strings, developed in marimba/percussion groove with strings, piano, electronics/percussion/violins joined by low swells.
2:24: Bourne cancels the meeting and puts a tracker on Conklin's car. Conklin calls Nicky. Conklin enters his local office as Bourne observes. Another assassin arrives.
Accented/delayed electronics/synth/percussion with accented string rhythms/figures, ending in ambients/strings.
|Unused. Ambient electronics/electronic drums/synth bass, developed with strings/drums.
|Unused. Electronic drums/synth bass with wordless male humming/soft strings, developed with ambient "dub" electronics/drums.
|The Bourne Identity
0:00: Held strings joined by distant Bourne theme in electric guitar, children's choir/delayed drums, Bourne theme element in bass groove with electronic ornaments, developed drums, intercut with tribal drum groove, synth bass variation of Treadstone theme
3:38: Treadstone theme variation in synth bass/vibraphone/string textures/electronics, joined by electronics/drums, Bourne theme fragment in bass joined by falling ambient textures.
|Drum And Bass Remix
|Unused, remix of "At the Bank" part 2. Bourne bass fragment groove with col legno strings/electronica, bass synth/electronics, Bourne ostinato in strings, accents.
The Bourne Supremacy
John Powell also scored 2004's sequel, "The Bourne Supremacy", and basically developed elements from the first film, adding some new electronic and string textures. Perhaps most importantly however (at least for fans of the first film), the sequel soundtrack included the end title theme song from the first film, Moby's "Extreme Ways". Plot-wise, Bourne is framed for a murder in order to cover up an internal CIA issue, but is eventually exonerated. The assassin Kirill kills Bourne's girlfriend (Marie from the previous film), but Bourne eventually dispatches him at the end of an involved tunnel car chase.
|0:00: Main title, Bourne has
images of a Treadstone mission in a dream.
Held strings with hint of Bourne ostinato/slams, Bourne theme variation in bassoon, electronics.
1:12: Bourne and Marie enjoy life near a Goa beach. Marie looks at Bourne's notes about his possible past.
Percussion/acoustic guitar groove with guardedly upbeat strings/electric piano, percussion solo/synth textures.
|0:00: CIA chief Landy monitors a sensitive operation.
Electronics/percussion/ambient textures/low strings/timpani accents, Bourne ostinato variation developed.
1:21: Kirill arrives. He sabotages the operation and kills Landy's operatives (framing Bourne).
Rhythmic string accents join the Bourne ostinato variation, also ambient percussion/string swells, joined by leisurely Bourne bass theme, drums developed, strings gradually relax, percussion.
|Bourne burns all of Marie's
records and leaves Goa with a gun.
Poignant strings joined by soft piano chord accents, rising modulations/ambient textures, joined by martial drum groove.
|Landy begins digging into
Treadstone and Jason Bourne on her computer.
Electronics/percussion groove joined by bass synth groove/rhythmic/col legno strings, ending on hint of Bourne in winds.
|Landy picks up Nicky in
Amsterdam on the way to Berlin. Bourne drives to
Naples. Landy lands and Nicky gives
her a warning about Bourne.
Vibraphone/hihat rhythm joined by Bourne ostinato variation in strings/piano ornaments, distant percussive synth motif, bass groove with string accents/metallic and ambient synth textures, soft violins/drum accents.
|0:00: Bourne drives to
Berlin. He tracks down Landy's hotel
and enters the lobby. He observes Landy when she leaves.
Treadstone theme groove in guitar with ambient textures/rising strings, developed into a subtle groove, drums/percussion, then developed on accented strings, Bourne ostinato in strings, developed.
3:11: Bourne follows Landy in a cab. Landy begins a staff meeting as Bourne heads to the roof of a nearby building. He puts Landy in his sights and calls her.
Bourne ostinato modulated and with growing layers of rhythmic strings/percussion, low string accents/guitar.
4:38: Bourne asks Landy about Treadstone and she accuses him of murder. Bourne reveals that he can see her.
Ambient textures/beats, string cluster gliss, drum accent.
(followed by 8)
|(Partially used) Bourne rides a
train to Moscow and thinks about Marie.
Held strings/poignant bassoon, developed.
(followed by 10)
|0:00: Bourne escapes Berlin
police by climbing to the hotel roof.
Landy arrives as Bourne walks away.
Synth/electronics rhythm, wooden flute theme, Bourne ostinato in strings, joined by additional percussion/string accents, string trills figure, rhythmic strings.
1:35: Bourne is seen on the street. He eludes the police after an involved chase through a subway station.
Bourne bass theme variation, Bourne ostinato develops with drums/percussion, building with low string accented rhythm/bass synth, accented strings rhythms, falling strings/piano accents, percussion into relaxed groove, hesitant rhythmic bursts on piano/low strings/electronics, electric guitar chord/ambient textures.
|0:00: Landy prepares to have
Nicky meet Bourne at Alexanderplatz.
Nicky waits and is told to get on a tram by Bourne on the phone. Bourne captures Nicky.
Rhythm with low strings/electronics/percussion/piano/synth pulses/distant electric guitar, Bourne ostinato fragments in strings, developed as a faster groove with more drums, ambients/percussion.
2:03: In a hotel, Bourne corners Abbot and gets a confession on tape.
(followed by 7)
|0:00: Bourne arrives in Moscow
and gets into a cab. Kirill is
informed that Bourne is in town.
Ambient texture/strings, vibraphone-hihat groove with relaxed Bourne ostinato variation in violins, joined by bassoon counter melody/low strings, groove with drums/electronics/percussion, Bourne ostinato returns, develops into accented rhythm, joined by full strings, fades.
3:16: Bourne stops at an apartment looking for someone. The police approach and Bourne leaves. Kirill shoots at (and hits) Bourne but is delayed by police.
Subdued groove texture with swelling strings, drum accents/percussion groove, rhythmic low strings, violins/electronics.
5:09: The police let Kirill go and he follows Bourne into the subway mall. Bourne makes a mess in the mall obtaining supplies.
Accented ethnic string rhythms/ornaments over electronic groove/drum accents, Bourne ostinato accented variation, etc.
|Bourne steals a taxi and drives
away. Kirill commandeers a car and
pursues. The police pursue as well.
Tribal drums with electronics/synth/electric guitar into electronica groove with electric twang guitar, developed with ethnic string accents/distorted electric guitar, taiko slams, low strings trills into tribal drums/string tremoli/percussion developing ethnic motif on synth/strings, Treadstone theme on guitar, Bourne ostinato modulating on strings with brass support, ending in brass accents.
|Bourne apologizes to the daughter
of his first victims as a Treadstone assassin and leaves.
Ambient textures joined by piano/celeste/relaxed strings (Goa beach theme) ending in held strings.
|Bourne says goodbye to Landy in
NYC after telling her she looks tired on the phone.
Moby song with male vocal over string accents/groove/electric piano/guitar/etc.
("I would stand in line for this, there's always room in life for this...Oh baby, oh baby...then it fell apart...like it always does...")
John Powell Wiki Entry
John Powell IMDB Entry
The Bourne Identity Filmtracks Review
The Bourne Supremacy Filmtracks Review