The name's Bond... or is it Bourne?
In a feat of sneaky subterfuge, Hollywood's big three spy franchises seem to be switching identities. Tim Walker spots a problem
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Wednesday 01 August 2012
With great fanfare, the new trailer for the next James Bond movie, Skyfall, was released online yesterday, fast becoming the second most popular topic on Twitter. It comes a week or so before the release of The Bourne Legacy, in which Jeremy Renner takes the reins of the Bourne franchise from Matt Damon. Given that Renner and Daniel Craig, with their rugged, yet ever-so-slightly squashed good looks, are not dissimilar – and given that the trailers for both films are edited with subliminal swiftness – you'd be forgiven for confusing the two.
The love interest for Renner's character Aaron Cross in Legacy is played by none other than Craig's wife, Rachel Weisz. And, if the Skyfall trailer is to be believed, the new Bond instalment begins precisely as the last Bourne instalment ended: with our hero shot and falling a long way into water, but somehow surviving to fight another day.
Bond, Bourne and the world's third major international spy-movie franchise, Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible, are steadily converging. They're all being jolly polite about it, naturally: Paramount's Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth movie in the series, came out last Christmas; Universal's The Bourne Legacy is arriving at the end of the summer blockbuster season; and Columbia/MGM's Skyfall is due in November. So we'll never have to find out who'd win in a straight fight: James Bond, Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt. (I wouldn't fancy Hunt's chances.)
But Bond is becoming a lot like Bourne: The fast-pace and close-combat fight sequences in Quantum of Solace, for example, seemed eerily familiar to anyone who'd seen The Bourne Ultimatum. The Bourne series, by snagging Renner as its new star, has stolen a march from Mission: Impossible; Renner also co-starred with Cruise in Ghost Protocol and has been tipped to take over that franchise, too. Mission: Impossible, meanwhile, is beginning to feel a lot like Bond did in its Die Another Day doldrums: a spectacular stunt here, a wisecrack there and a numbing succession of exotic locations.
James Bond was once the ne plus ultra of cinematic spies. But as Moore segued into Dalton and the supposed moral certainties of the Cold War dissolved, so the series lost its way. The Bourne Identity was released in 2002, the same year as Die Another Day – the last, worst Brosnan Bond – and Jason Bourne seemed a far better fit for the modern, post-9/11 world.
Unlike 007, he was pursued not by an enemy state or an international criminal, but by his own former CIA employers. Bond always, ultimately, acts on behalf of Her Majesty; Bourne is stateless.
No coincidence, then, that when Bond was rebooted for Casino Royale in 2006, with Craig in the killer dinner jacket, he also went rogue. M sent his fellow British agents after him and he only returned to the fold in the final moments of Quantum of Solace. There are hints that Skyfall, too, will take him out of the MI6 family. Crossover movies are all the rage at the moment (as in The Avengers, also starring Renner); maybe for his next mission, James ought to team-up with Ethan, Aaron and Jason.
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Jeremy Clarkson to host BBC's Have I Got News For You despite Top Gear exit
James Bond Spectre trailer drops on YouTube
Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
A historian gave the most British look of despair when someone screwed up Richard III's birthday at his reburial
Kay Burley 'bias' against Ed Miliband prompts 130 complaints to Ofcom
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'