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'Skyfall:' Are James Bond and Jason Bourne melding together?

October 23, 2012|By Steven Zeitchik
  • Daniel Craig as James Bond in "Skyfall."
Daniel Craig as James Bond in "Skyfall." (Sony Pictures )

The filmmakers behind James Bond invented (and then reinvented) the spy movie -- then watched as a generation of action directors, er, borrowed from the movies about the resourceful secret agent.

We’ll have plenty from the principals on the new movie, titled “Skyfall” and set for a Nov. 9 opening in the U.S., in the weeks ahead. But with the Daniel Craig movie premiering in London Tuesday night, we thought it worth posing one of the big questions asked about Bond circa 2012: How much does 007 have in common with other action heroes currently on the big screen?

Barbara Broccoli, with stepbrother Michael Wilson the longtime producer and steward of the franchise, says she thinks Bond has maintained his distinctiveness even in the face of all this competition.

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“Bond movies are unique. People have tried to mimic them but there is just something particular to them,” she said. “There are moments in [‘Skyfall’] where you say ‘only in a Bond movie,’” she added, referring to both 007’s arrival at a Macau casino and his getting into an intimate square-off with a villain played by a flamboyant Javier Bardem.

“In what other movies would you have those kinds of situations?” she said.

The most oft-made Bond comparison has been to Jason Bourne, particularly in the films of Paul Greengrass last decade. Both the Matt Damon films and the Daniel Craig movies contain complicated, globe-trotting heroes at their center, and are able to plumb character between the whiz-bang action sequences.

Those who see “Skyfall” will judge the question for themselves (our take -- there’s a similar sense of inner torment but the styles and storytelling are rather different). Broccoli said that if there is a similarity, it’s because the Bourne filmmakers were looking at Bond, not the other way around.

“It’s strange when people ask if we’re affected by the Bourne films. Because the Bourne films are really ‘From Russia With Love,’” she said, adding, “It’s more that we pull from our own family library much more than going outside it.”

That library can be felt here in this, the 50th anniversary film, with numerous allusions to previous titles and assorted characters returning (Q, for instance, now played by Ben Whishaw as a young-buck computer whiz).

Neal Purvis, one of the writers on “Skyfall,” went a step further and said that there were specific texts that filmmakers were looking at.

“There were two books that were the starting point: ‘You Only Live Twice' and ‘The Man With the Golden Gun,’” Purvis said. “In ‘You Only Live Twice’ he seemed to be dead. And in ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ he was given a really worthy adversary. That," he said, "seemed like a really good template.”

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