I told myself that I would avoid writing about the James Bond/Jason Bourne debate, however, Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass's recent comments about James Bond have irritated me to the point that I feel its necessary to give a rebuttal on behalf of 007.
Damon and Greengrass's comments in a recent MSNBC article titled "Damon: Bourne is the opposite of James Bond'" portray James Bond as inferior to Jason Bourne. As you may have guessed, I ultimately disagree with this notion. Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass (the director of the third and final Jason Bourne movie, The Bourne Ultimatum) may have a different opinion than what was conveyed in the article, but after reading it for a third time, I only get the feeling that they see James Bond as the 'black sheep' of cinematic secret agents.
Some pieces (and my thoughts on each part) from the article:
Paul Greengrass, Damon's director on Universal's "Bourne Ultimatum" and its 2004 predecessor, "The Bourne Supremacy," agreed that Bond is a relic from a different era.
A relic? Is that term really necessary? I'd prefer calling James a veteran secret agent. If anything, he is an experienced protagonist whose relevance of character evolves just as the world around him does. Relic gives the impression that Bond is old and forgotten - not so.
A quick Google search of the term 'relic' shows that it comes from the Latin for 'remains' - as if the 007 character has died and has only deteriorated steadily since his inception. Sure, the franchise and the character have had their ups and downs, but would you really label him as such after the latest James Bond movie, Casino Royale just broke the all-time box office grossing record for any movie in the series? Pierce Brosnan's Bond even revitalized the franchise prior to Craig.
Has Damon, Greengrass or this Associated Press writer even seen Casino Royale?
"He's an insider. He likes being a secret agent. He worships at the altar of technology. He loves his gadgets."
Would Bond be successful if he didn't characterize the essence of a secret agent - to be an insider and liking his job? No.
And 'worships at the altar of technology'? What the hell is that? Yes, like all secret agents in cinema, Bond uses gadgets to his advantage and they have even saved his life on numerous occasions. But to say that James Bond merely relies on gadgets for a successful mission is pretty offensive. It annoys me when someone attempts to define the James Bond character citing only the 'cool' gadgets he uses. The gadgets are certainly an aspect of James Bond's occupation as a secret agent, but definitely not his defining characteristic.
And really, wouldn't you 'love your gadgets' too if they saved your life?
"And he embodies this whole set of misogynistic values," Greengrass said. "He likes violence. That's part of the appeal of the character. He has no guilt. He's essentially an imperial adventurer of a particularly English sort."
Sure, James may be a misogynist, but can you really blame him? In Casino Royale, you will obviously see why James Bond is who he will eventually become (we have seen the resulting character in previous movies).
The only woman he ever loved - the woman he opened himself up to and let all of his vulnerabilities be known to - betrayed him and selfishly committed suicide. Can you blame James? I think I would have a hard time trusting another woman again too.
"Personally, I spit on those values. I think we've moved on a little bit from all that, the martini shaken, not stirred."
Well, personally, I think you should watch all of the James Bond movies (I can't imagine that you have seen them all) before you criticize the longest running movie franchise in the history of cinema. No comments of praise for the Bond franchise? At all???
Perhaps you have moved on from the 'martini shaken, not stirred', but I know millions and millions of people who still admire the character for that famous line. And hell, if you really want to get technical, Bond even shied away from the line (pretty vehemently if I may say so) in Royale,
and the movie is the top grossing Bond movie of all time.
Really it is no big deal that you have moved on from 'all that,' but would it be so hard to not sound like Bourne is some untouchable character that James Bond can't hold a candle to?
Bourne and Bond may be very different men, but that still leaves the big question: Which one would win in a fight?
"It's tough. I wouldn't bet against Bourne," Damon said. "Bond had all those gadgets, though."
Bond is a commander in the British navy and was orphaned as a child - he has nothing to lose. I would like to think that he could at least give Bourne a good one-on-one fight.
Craig's fight sequence in Casino Royale was pretty impressive, but then again, Bourne's escape from the airport and hotel in Supremacy showcased his fighting skills quite well.
I say have the two meet up in a film. Working together, of course.
The debate continues...
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