Archive for November 17, 2023


Amnesia and Action

I discovered this week that a post I had scheduled for while I was on vacation never posted. I’m going to have to figure out why my scheduled posts don’t post, but in the meantime, here it is, with updates as needed.

You’d think it would have occurred to me as I wrote a book about a person with amnesia (Tea and Empathy) that one of the best examples of the kind of amnesia story I like — the “who would you be if you didn’t know who you were?” story — is The Bourne Identity. Only after I had the book totally done did I stumble across the movie (the Matt Damon version, not the 80s version) on Prime Video. I rewatched it anyway.

I read the book in high school when I was going through a spy thriller phase, and that may be what sparked my interest in the amnesia plot. I don’t remember a lot about the book now, but it did have the same basic premise as the recent movie, that of a man who wakes up with no idea who he is, but he turns out to be hypercompetent when it comes to fighting and killing, and the CIA is after him. In the recent movie version, he’s not entirely comfortable with how good he is at killing. He’d prefer to just put it all behind him and start a different kind of life, but his handlers don’t want to let him go.

I suppose I inverted that story somewhat, in that my guy is kind of hyper-incompetent — at least in the skills he thinks he ought to have. He’s good at different things, and realizing what he is and isn’t good at makes him reconsider what kind of person he is.

I also realized while rewatching the movie that the action thriller in which a man and woman go on the run together also fits my romantic road trip outline. There’s the bargain — the reason they’re traveling together. In this case, he offers her money to drive him to Paris. She’s in desperate need of money, so she agrees. There’s bickering as their personalities initially clash, or else they’re at odds because of the reason for the journey. Here, she’s not sure she believes his crazy tale about amnesia and the bank box full of cash and passports, and they argue about that. There’s an attack — usually a big chase scene in the middle of the story — followed by some kind of bonding moment. We have the car chase through Paris, and then the sexy scene when he dyes and cuts her hair to disguise her. Then there’s some kind of split up or departure — he sends her to safety before the final confrontation. And then the return when they’re reunited.

Some of the Bond movies might also follow the pattern, though it varies when the main Bond Girl shows up, and that may mess up the pattern.

I guess now I need to look for more of this kind of thriller to see how it works.