August 15, 2007

"Bond is an imperialist and a misogynist who kills people and laughs about it, and drinks Martinis and cracks jokes."

Matt Damon on James Bond. He, of course, thinks Bourne is better, but he's right, isn't he? Bond is mired in the 60s.

I remember a teacher in 1964 who talked about James Bond. Right about when "Goldfinger" came out, that was the high point. I remember going to see "Thunderball" and how everyone felt disappointed and sure that the James Bond fad had ended. We had some fun seeing "Diamonds Are Forever" in 1971. Bond was totally retro. How strange that the Bond movies have come out consistently every few years for almost half a century!

"The Bourne franchise is not about wearing Prada suits and looking at women coming out of the sea with bikinis on. It's about essence and truth, not frippery and surface." So says "Bourne" director Paul Greengrass, incredibly hoity-toitily.


ron st.amant said...

There was that horrible period in the 80s when Timothy Dalton tried to make Bond a somewhat non-womanizing super amounted to some of the most cricket chirping inspiring Bond films in the franchise.

Joe said...

I like the Bourne movies, but have to admit that he is more than a bit sociopathic. At the core, Bourne stands only for himself, Bond fights for his country.

Of course, they're both fictional characters and it shows a bizarre conceit for Matt Damon to make hay about it. What's next, complaining that Han Solo is too much of a rogue?

Jennifer said...

I don't really understand the comparison. How are the two characters even related?

Matt Damon is quite funny and he jokes a lot in interviews. I wonder if this is just coming across flat in print when it was said in jest.

reader_iam said...

Yeah, well, given the fact that the Bourne movies, from the start, have departed substantially from the books (and for the reasons I suspect they have), there's a bit of nerve involved here.

The Bourne movies have "shallowed out" the Bourne books, for crying out loud, starting from the first movie which totally changed the context of the character, starting with making him incongruously young & etc.


This is self-serving crap, plain and simple.

Ann Althouse said...

I'd like to think Damon is being lighthearted... but that Greengrass quote... that's really pretentious.

reader_iam said...

I mean, I find this a complete and utter hoot. The Bourne movies have been and are being made to fit particular tastes for EXACTLY the same reasons that the Bond movies were. It's entirely about style. They're kissin' cousins in that exact way.

I mean, who the hell is kidding whom? Puh-leeze.

Zeb Quinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

At the core, Bourne stands only for himself, Bond fights for his country.

Interesting. I don't think it's that black and white, but having read the entire series of books on which each series of movies are based, I think it's possible to come to different conclusions.

reader_iam said...

Ian Fleming was pretty damn mysognynistic in his books, by the way. Wouldn't want y'all to think that I can't ALSO recognize that ... at the same time.

Michael said...

What's next, complaining that Han Solo is too much of a rogue?

George Lucas thinks so. < sigh >

Eli Blake said...


Speak for yourself. I thought that Dalton was an incredibly worthy Bond (and I've not had a problem with any of the six Bonds.)

As for the idea that Bond is a '60's hero, heck yeah he is. That's probably why he is so popular.

Whether we are talking about James Bond, Matt Dillon, Joe Friday or Captain Kirk, the '60's hero wasn't about being sensitive. He was about wearing a white hat and at the end of the day you knew that no matter how bad things looked, he would be standing tall and the bad guys would either be dead, in custody or otherwise defeated. And yes, those 60's heros were all white men. Racist? Yes. Sexist? Absolutely. But popular, even with people from all races and genders.

So why is Bond still popular? Probably because in today's world, where we have real enemies who come here to kill us, most of the world is just as likely to consider us as the bad guys as they are to think that about our enemies, and our leaders are so astoundingly incompetent that they remind us of Maxwell Smart or Barney Fife instead of James Bond, there is something comforting about at least the image of a '60's hero.

That was back in the days when the world was simple, and there were still some things you could count on. There was no such thing as a designated hitter, the boy would always pay for the date, and Walter Cronkite would tell us the way it was.

And James Bond would be there to stop any arch villain who had it in mind to mess with us (though in one way, Bond was ahead of his time-- the idea that one man with no country and his own army could threaten the world, came at least 30 years before bin Laden.)

Seven Machos said...

I am a fan of both. The difference, to me, is that Bond -- the woman-hater that he is -- has free will. He chooses to do what he does and, at least in the early books, he's always wanting to quit.

I've never read the Bourne book but Bourne really has no free will, if you think about it. He is utterly determined by society and dark forces bigger than he is. Whereas Bond chooses a force bigger than he is to fight for, Bourne is just at the mercy of those forces. That's why his films are fun to watch but will never have the staying power of Bond. Good art demands moral free agency.

Zeb Quinn said...
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jane said...

Bond- suave and savvy, all man, and not messed up. A few years back I downloaded and enlarged pix of different Bonds, bought good vodka, invited Russians and a few Americans who could hold their drink, and we had a “shaken or stirred” party.

The Bourne stories are pretty intriguing, but what to do for a get-together-- group hypnosis and then therapy?

jane said...

(I only sipped a few at the Bond affair, because only evil villainesses drink like men.)

B said...

Does the fact that President Kennedy was a huge Bond fan mean anything?

GeorgeH said...

"Bond is an imperialist and a misogynist who kills people and laughs about it, and drinks Martinis and cracks jokes."

What's wrong with that?

Jennifer said...

Yes, that Greengrass quote is really pretentious. What is "essence" anyway?

reader_iam said...

Does the fact that President Kennedy was a huge Bond fan mean anything?


dave™© said...

Actually, the Bond of Fleming's books was a complete mess, physically and morally. The novel version of "Thunderball" opens with an accounting of his remarkable tobacco and alcohol intake, which triggers M's decision to send him off to the health farm. And of course, following his wife's death in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," he goes completely to pieces.

I've always thought LeCarre's Rikki Tarr from "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" was based on Bond and his escapade in "From Russia With Love."

Most real Bond fans think "Thunderball" is the best of the Connery series. Figures the Blithering Drunk would like that piece-of-shit "Diamonds are Forever".

Seven Machos said...

What the fuck was that insightful, thoughtful bullshit, DaveTM? It's very disconcerting, but I like it.

I enjoyed Thunderball a lot, especially the first part. Hilarious. It was the first James Bond I ever read. Then, I read Casino Royale and I noticed that Bond silently called the woman he ended up sleeping with and being massively in love with "bitch" when he first met her. I think he also wanted to marry her. Very weird.

At any rate, I highly recommend Bond novels for airplane and train rides. You can get them really cheap on Amazon and -- if I may be pretentious for a moment -- at used book shops around the world.

Seven Machos said...

On edit: Bond called the women "bitch" in both books, then fell in love. Very eighth grade.

blake said...

I showed my son Dr. No and Moonraker last year. I remembered the movies as being shallow and juvenile, but I was rather embarrassed. They're Benny Hill with guns. At least through Moore which is where my experience stops.

The new one was well done, without the prurient jokes and more of the dangerous--and decidedly uncharming--psychology that someone would like that would have to have.

The Bourne movies are good, but they're also over, aren't they? He knows who he is, he doesn't like it, how can it go on from there without looking either incongruous or desperate?

Besides, who can see Matt Damon without know...MATT DAMON!?

Ron said...

The Onion had the best remark:

"Ben Affleck sure hopes Jason Bourne needs a sidekick in his next film."

Hoosier Daddy said...

Bond is an imperialist and a misogynist who kills people and laughs about it, and drinks Martinis and cracks jokes."

And those were just some of his good points.

Bourne? Give me a break. If the CIA was even half as real as portrayed in that flick, Osama would be roasting over a spit somewhere in Langely to feed the army of CIA zombie clones we created to track him down.

At least with the Bond movies, you went in with the suspension of disbelief. Bourne movies try to come off as 'real' and only feed the fantasies of those who really think the CIA has the type of capabilities shown in that movie.

Finally, Bourne is a renegade, a self-centered sociopath whose only looking out for himself. Bond was all for King and Country. Big difference.

Bissage said...

Is James Bond anchored in the 1960s and in the values of the 1960s? Maybe so. But he must have progressed to the 1960s some time after “Goldfinger”:

My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done, such as drinking Dom Perignon 'fifty-three above a temperature of thirty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. That's as bad as listening to the Beatles without ear-muffs.

Jeremy said...

The characters have virtually nothing to do with one another. And Damon comparing action/spy movie characters in those terms is like a Star Trek fan dissing a Battlestar Galactica fan for being too nerdy.

Also, I was pissed that they kept the titles and nothing else. They're not even adaptations of the books--they're completely different stories that happen to have the same titles. It's too bad, because "The Bourne Identity" (the book) was awesome, while the Matt Damon vehicle by the same name sucked.

Pogo said...

"It's about essence and truth, not frippery and surface."

How wonderful. The perfectly meaningless phrase, able to be pronounced about any topic you favor over against those you despise.

So, personally, I think Wine, Women, Radiohead, American soldiers, N'Orlins Po' Boys, Walker Percy, Russell Kirk, Target, pick-up basketball, and Lisa Germano are all about essence and truth, not frippery and surface.

But then, I'm no Paul Greengrass. Yeah, Bourne was fun, but the polar opposite of a Bond womanizer is a Bourne loner. His girlfriends don't seem to fare very well, and Bourne's reaction to death was the most tender after he choked a fellow assassin. Who's the misogynist? Plus, I hated the wrap-up to the last installment. Yike. Nothing kills a thriller like a Senate Hearing. I mean, how can anyone watch and not see John Kerry thinking yeah yeah, blah blah blah, just dying to get to that microphone and show his cute little CIA hat?

hdhouse said...

Hello??? these are MOVIES. They are NOT REAL. the characters are NOT REAL. They are stylized renditions of the writers' minds.

Both are vastly entertaining on their own terms. Turner can have a "bond festival" and it sells out advertising to this day because there is a strong support (liken it to star trek to an extent) and each new movie will simply feed the flames. Bourne movies are complicated and viewable over and over (to me at least) and this last one is a corker in my opinion.

The message may be about truth and not tongue in cheek "frippery and surface" and that might be right. Bourne plot lines seem distinctly moral opposed to the Bond plastique...but that is just my take and it is that millions have different takes that make these two a good bet to outlive us all.

Pogo said...

"Hello??? these are MOVIES."

Shut up and sing, boys.

NSC said...

Yeah, but who would be more fun to party with? Bond of course.

class-factotum said...

I'd take Daniel Craig over Matt Damon any day. Hubba hubba.

Bissage said...

Let’s see if I can put this all together.

1. TRex likens Althouse to Fellini.

2. Althouse taunts TRex with LOL-Anita Ekbergs.

3. TRex tells Althouse she should have kept her mouth shut.

4. Althouse posts about the misogynist James Bond.

5. In “From Russia With Love”, James Bond assists in the assassination of Krilencu as he attempts to flee out the escape hatch hidden in the mouth of a giant Anita Ekberg painted on the side of a building. Afterwards, James Bond quips, “She should have kept her mouth shut.”

6. Coincidence?


Steven said...

In the movies, what happened to the brilliant, highly competent woman who became Bourne;s girlfriend/wife in the later books?

Oh, they killed her off in the first movie. Can't have Matt Daimon's character steadily paired romantically, especially with someone who could actually steal attention from our Male Hero.

Bourne-the-character may not be misogynist, but Bourne-the-films?

ricpic said...

How come so many actors have small brain pans?

Ernst Blofeld said...

Bourne is about "essence and truth?" The last couple have been tedious lefty fantasies about the CIA. Their only real claim to artistic merit is that they have good action scenes that are semi-realistic. And the "realistic" aspect pretty much went out the window in the last movie.

The first one directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) was superior, anyway.

Harkonnendog said...

Bond is a misogynist when played by Dalton or Remington Steele, 'cause those guys are dorks. But when Bond is played by Connery or Craig he's not a misogynist. If Halle Berry seduces me and dumps me for another man she's not a man-hater, she's just spreading the blessings God gave her. Nawmean?

Bond was sucking for a while, but this new Bond as played by Craig is friggin' great.

In the end Bourne is a victim and Bond is a hero, Craig is a stud and Damon's a dork. Bond wins.

rcocean said...

"Misogynist" what does that even mean? Bond hates women in what sense?

And he kills BAD people, (who are usually trying to kill him) and makes jokes. Also,because its showbiz.

As for being an imperialist, don't know about that either. I don't think there's a world-wide audience supporting the Raj.

So, I think Damon's comment was tongue in cheek.

Chip Ahoy said...

*looks up 'corker'* turns out to be good

I like Matt Damon. Loved Ludlum's Bourne Identity, Supremacy, Ultimatum and Betrayal. So I'm hurt by my own resolution to not see this movie, by my unwillingness to subject myself to liberal propaganda. I'll take a Anthony Kaufman's review of it on the Huffington Post (no link to that swamp) at face value. I suppose I'm less well off, one less action-packed thriller for me, but a guy has to draw the line somewhere.
Key points:
*stinging rebuke against Cheney-esque black ops
*torture tactics
*attack against Bush regime (despise that word substitution, it's "administration")
*deteriorating civil liberties
*oil-fueled overseas obsessions
*corrupt clandestine leadership
*government officials as arch-villains committing
*treasonous and
*reckless activities
*without oversight
*experimental interrogations
*"rendition" whatever that is
*manipulation of soldiers' minds with
*intimidation and
*bullish Rumsfeld-like strategies depicted as
*(Bourne hates being a) killing machine

Paul Greengrass, thanks but no.

losergrrl said...

James Bond is silly old stuff my dad used to like.

Revenant said...

As for being an imperialist, don't know about that either.

When used by liberals the term generally means "pro-West".

Peter Palladas said...

"Bond is an imperialist and a misogynist who kills people and laughs about it, and drinks Martinis and cracks jokes."


Bond was a strongly masculine symbol of his day of the war against communisim; a tough and honest defender of Western liberal democracy who dared to fight, and to kill where necessary, a ruthless imperialist enemy.

Being British of course he was able to combine all of this with a dry wit and a drier Martini. He rather adored women, though in common with all British males had really no idea what makes them tick. He could, however, ring their chimes.