Sunday, August 05, 2007
Mission Impossible, The Bourne Identity, Ronin, La Femme Nikita. What do they all have in common? Yes, they could all qualify as espionage thrillers, but really, I think they all aspire to be a James Bond movie. When I think of spy thrillers I pretty much put everything into two categories: Bond and everything else. What got me thinking about this was two things, the release of The Bourne Ultimatum and the new TV show Burn Notice. I haven't seen The Bourne Ultimatum yet though it is getting very good reviews, which is great. I loved the first Bourne movie, The Bourne Identity, though the second of the series, The Bourne Supremacy, was less to my liking both for its deviation from the book and its jittery film style. Having read all of Robert Ludlum's Bourne books I know this third installment will have to have major deviations from the book to be consistent with the previous films, but I still have hope that it will be worth watching. Now, maybe I'm wrong in asserting that Ludlum was using James Bond as inspiration when he wrote the Bourne series. But somehow I think Bond must have been a significant influence. Ian Flemming really started something when he wrote Casino Royale. He made it seem incredibly cool to be a spy, no doubt inspiring countless reckless young men to seek out a career of covert government service (with very little success I'm sure). And Ludlum had to have been a fan of Flemming don't you think? To write such a character as Jason Bourne? No, Bourne doesn't start out as a good guy but somehow losing his memory brings out the conscience of the man thus putting him on a road of cat and mouse with our government and foreign bad guys. See? In the end he becomes a very Bondian character with his fighting skills and his ability to ferret out government secrets. Again, maybe I'm wrong, but as much as I like the Bourne movies, I still feel as if I am watching something very much like a Bond film. Burn Notice on the other hand is kind of like a comedic version of James Bond, though it doesn't go nearly as over the top as the Austin Powers franchise. I gotta admit, I really like Burn Notice. I became a fan of Jeffrey Donovan when the series Touching Evil was on and I still like him a lot. And let's be honest, anything that brings Bruce Campbell back to television has got to be a good thing. Burn Notice follows the story of former spy, Michael Weston, who was fired or "burned" as they call it in his particular industry. Weston still wants to be a spy however and using the skills he's gleaned over the years as a covert operative he methodically tries to find out who "burned" him-- and make a living at the same time. Burn Notice is kind of like Bond Lite to me. It's meant to be lighter, more comedic show, which I love. But it has all the things we like to see in a Bond movie. He outsmarts the bad guys and the other government spooks and uses a pretty wide variety of gadgets-- though nothing as high tech as what we're used to seeing in James Bond's Aston Martin. But you see where I'm going with this don't you? James Bond is the man, especially when he's being played by Daniel Craig. But without a weekly series featuring Bond, we only get our fix every couple of years or so. Therefore we look to characters like Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt or even Michael Weston to fill the void. But there is a void isn't there? I mean, there are a lot of good espionage thrillers out there. Tom Clancy created a great character with Jack Ryan and Ronin will always be one of my favorite movies. But when it comes to watching a spy movie, I think Bond will always be my first choice.