Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Bourne vs. Bond

Last night I finally saw The Bourne Supremacy with my girl Claire. I'd meant for us to see it on Friday, but the online ticket ordering site was down, and the phone line to the theatre kept putting me on hold, and when I finally drive to the theatre hours ahead of time to buy my tickets the old fashioned way, it was sold out. I was quite upset and pouted until the theatre manager gave me two free passes, which I redeemed last night.

Anyway, in summary, it was a pretty decent sequel, and I have few complaints to one of my favorite films in recent years, The Bourne Identity. I'm sure most of you have seen it - its a more realistic than most, at least as far as the action goes, spy thriller starring Matt Damon, who I've never been a big fan of until this movie. "Identity" reminded me a bit of "Marathon Man" and "Three Days of the Condor" in that, beyond that general improbability that the CIA is corrupt, feel like they could happen - suspension of disbelief isn't that hard to come by, and I could picture myself in the protagonists shoes. Except Damon and Robert Redford are better looking than I am (yep, no mention of Dustin Hoffman).

The Bourne Supremacy continues this general sense of a grounding in reality. Key moments include personal tragedy not typical of Hollywood action films, and the sense that our hero is fragile both physically and mentally.

In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the books for the James Bond series, the most horribly mutilated adaptation of the modern age.

When I was in high school, one of my many homework procrastination inducing activities was reading the Bond novels by Ian Fleming, of which I read every one. Except for villain's names and film titles, the books barely resembled the films. Bond isn't Fletch, cracking jokes as he kills, and saving himself with one ridiculous gadget after another. There's the flirtation with Moneypenny, an ability to bed any woman he crossed paths with, excutiating details on his favorite cocktails and cigarettes, and the ability to think his way into and out of any situation on Earth... but Bond did bleed, he had a concience, and the gadgets were based on real technology.

My dream now is for the Bond series to take a cue from the Bourne films and do a three film arc based on three pre-existing adapted books:

Most people remember this as the one with "that other guy" playing Bond. Some die hard fans, however, believe that George Lazenby was perhaps the Bond who most resembled the 007 from Ian Flemings novels. Regardless, this is debatably one of the more faithful of all the adaptations. In the book, as in the movie, Bond goes to a Swedish spa retreat for some business and pleasure, does some skiing with a gun, but most importantly falls in love and, shockingly, ends up getting married. In the final scene of both book and movie, Bond and Mrs. Bond are out for a drive when an assassin drives by and, missing 007, shoots his wife dead instead. Bond is last seen cradling her bloody head in his lap, sobbing. Good stuff.

The movie was plain silly, with Bond going undercover as Japanese man... which meant Sean Connery with bad makeup. Its laughable. But the book...
Starts off with Bond a mess. He's screwing up his missions. He's in grief. M perks up his motivation by offering 007 a mission that could bring him into contact with the man responsible for murdering Bond's wife.
The bad guy is Blofeld, who has an impenetrable Japanese fortress, that, of course, Bond infiltrates. In the end, after a bloody mission, kills Blofeld... but Bond, weak from injuries and exhausted mentally, is last seen dropping into the ocean... left for dead.

M and Moneypenny believe Bond is dead until he walks into the office... and attempts to murder them all. M, having sensed the danger, is able to safely trap Bond. While MI:5 calls for his execution, M learns that Bond was picked up by SMERSH, the enemy spy agency, and brainwashed. M convinces them to try and un-brainwash Bond, and in an effort to boost Bond's confidence back up gives him what appears to be a fluff mission: to track down an assassin know as The Man with the Golden Gun.

And as fluffy as that seems, it would make for the outline of an awesome Bond series. Better than the last few pieces of crap by Pierce Brosnan... who, by the way, has bowed out of returning to the role. So, there's some hope.