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Posts Tagged ‘The Bourne Identity’

We have been waiting a long time for a new James Bond movie.  Development began on No Time To Die all the way back in 2016, a few months after Spectre’s October 2015 release (itself delayed a couple of times).  Danny Boyle was originally attached to direct but left the project in 2018 due to creative differences.  Cary Joji Fukunaga was then hired.  Fukunaga worked with script writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade on a new story, the third script/story as Purvis and Wade’s (who had scripted all of Daniel Craig’s previous Bond movies) original idea had been scrapped when Boyle signed on to direct.  This caused the first significant delay with principal photography commencing in  late April 2019, four to five months after it was originally scheduled.  They wrapped around six months later with final pick-up shots taking place in December.  A month after the originally scheduled release date in November 2019.  The release date was immediately pushed to February 2020 when they announced Boyle’s departure, and then to April 2020 during production.  By February it was clear that COVID-19 wasn’t going away anytime soon, and On 4 March 2020, MGM and Eon Productions announced that the release was to be postponed again, this time until 12 November 2020.  Two further delays have been announced, first to  2 April 2021 and then to 8 October 2021, nearly two years after Danny Boyle’s film was scheduled for release. 

Over the past year I have read numerous stories and tweets from Bond Fans who are undertaking marathon re-watches of the whole Bond film series.  But what do you do when you have watched the movies so many times you can remember every Roger Moore quip,  or know just what time to go and put the kettle on t avoid having to watch Sheriff J.W. Pepper?  What are the other spy films to keep Bond fans entertained while they wait for No Time To Die?  Here are a few suggestions, some obvious, others less so:

North By Northwest (1959): Ian Fleming didn’t intend Dr. No to be the first Bond movie, it wasn’t even going to be based on one of his novels, it was going to be an original idea, that eventually became the basis for his eighth novel  Thunderball (yes you guessed it this was where the infamous Legal disputes started). Fleming wanted the Alfred Hitchcock to direct, but he declined as he had only just made a spy thriller and wanted to do something different.  The spy movie he had just made was North by Northwest, the something different turned out to be Psycho, and Thunderball is a great book so it didn’t turn out too bad, but just imagine a Hitchcock Bond movie! For those who don’t know, North By Northwest is my favourite Hitchcock, and one of my favourite movies.  Taken one of the directors well used tropes of “the wrong man” on the run, the film is absolute perfection.  It zips along with such ease and pace I am always staggered how long it is, the time flies by when you watch it. 

The Ipcress File (1965): Based on Len Deighton’s novel The IPCRESS File, despite sharing a producer with Bond, Harry Saltzman this is far from a Bond movie.  Like When Eight Bells Toll, it is intended to be more realistic than Bond, with its sneering look at bureaucracy  it is almost satirical at times.  But the real difference is the main character, Harry Palmer, played by Michael Caine.  Bond loves his job, or more to the point he loves the trappings of his job, his fancy suits, his Swiss Watch, fast cars, fancy hotels.  Harry Palmer is a reluctant spy, British army sergeant forcibly drafted into the security services to avoid a prison sentence! He just wants to do his time, and would like a pay rise.

When Eight Bells Toll (1971): Made with Bond audiences in mind, but with the intention of being more gritty and realistic.  Based on a novel of the same name by Alistair MacLean, British Treasury secret agent Phillip Calvert (Anthony Hopkins) investigates hijacking of cargo ships in the Irish Sea.  Intended as the first in a series around the time when the Bond franchise was rumoured to be in trouble following the departure of Sean Connery.  Further films never materialised, partly due to poor boxoffice numbers in America, and possibly due to Connery returning to Bond later the same year.  Not a classic, but good fun adventure movie, at 95 minutes it won’t outstay its welcome.  I would watch it over Diamonds Are Forever!

The Russia House (1990): I have largely avoided movies based on John le Carré novels here as they are a very different beast to Bond.  More thoughtful and realistic and lacking the action and adventure associated with Ian Fleming’s creation.  I am not including this as it has any of those elements, quite the opposite,  I have chosen it, because it stars Sean Connery, and he is excellent playing a very different part Bond.  

The Rock (1996): Hands down Michael Bay’s best movie low bar, I know but this is genuinely good! The third and final Sean Connery movie on the list, here, he plays a former British SAS captain and MI6 operative.  Some fans have suggested the character is Bond in all but name, but in a lot of ways he is more badass  than his Bond ever was.  The plot is unimportant filled with McGuffin’s and contrivances but the film is great fun, Connery and co star Nicolas Cage are excellent together. 

The Bourne Identity (2002): Probably the most obvious choice on the list, but an excellent one! Based on Robert Ludlum’s novel of the same name, this first film in the franchise is the only one to take any real plot from the novel series.  Directed by Doug Liman, and often overshadowed by Paul Greengrass who made a further three movies in the series.  My favourite of the Bourne movies, it has the best story and some great performances throughout.  It is also notable for the impact it had on Bond! Released in the summer of 2002, Die Another Day would have been in the can by this time, but it the next Bond movie, Casino Royale four years later was the closest the franchise has come to a reboot, and it was all the better for it. 

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006): If you want spoof of Bond and other spy movies of the genre it isn’t Austin Powers, it has to be Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, AKA OSS 117.  Both Jean Bruce’s OSS 117 spy novels and the first film adaptations of them predate  Ian Flemings Bond novels and EON’s adaptations of them.  I know nothing of the French novels or films beyond the fact there is a lot of them! However, in 2006 the character was re-imagined  by writer director Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo (Hazanavicius’s wife).  You may recognise these names, they went on to make the multi Oscar winning The Artist (2011).  A parody of the genre, OSS117 is an idiot who a little like Inspector Clouseau solves cases by either luck, or other people doing it for him.  There was a sequel  OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009), and a third film is due out this year OSS 117: Alerte rouge en Afrique noire (2021).

Atomic Blonde (2017): What if John Wick was a woman, and she was a spy? That is pretty much what Atomic Blonde is.  Directed by David Leitch who was an uncredited  co-director with Chad Stahelski on the first John Wick movie.  Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City; set in Berlin in 1989 in the last days of the Berlin wall, the plot is a typical find the McGuffin story, this time a list of double agents.  What sets the film apart from anything else, is the style, and breathtaking action.  Its like a Bond or any other film on this list stripped back and boiled down to its core elements.

Red Sparrow (2018): A fictional version of the real life use of “sexpionage” by the Soviet Union, and possibly Russia in the post soviet era.  A decent film with although it does over rely on the charisma of stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton.  Better than the movie I would recommend the trilogy of books (the movie was based on the first) written by Jason Matthews, a former Central Intelligence Agency Officer.  Matthews sadly passed away a few weeks ago, so these three books are his only books. 

Kingsman (2014): As much as I love the Craig era Bond movies, but to quote Harry Hart when asked if he likes spy movies “Nowadays, they’re all a little serious for my taste. But the old ones… marvellous. Give me a far-fetched theatrical plot any day.”  A truly silly film that manages to be a great spy movie and a great spoof of a spy movie at the same time! 

And finally, a few honourable mentions: Mission Impossible (1996–present): Tom Cruise’s movie series based on the 60’s TV show. Hanna (2011): Saoirse Ronan as a teenage assassin. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015): Guy Ritchie’s movie based on the 60’s TV show had decent reviews but failed to find an audience.  Its good fun id a little lightweight.  Inception (2010) More a high concept sci-fi heist movie than a spy movie, but there are a lot of elements reminiscent of classic Bond movies.  No Way Out (1987) A crime thriller set against a backdrop of espionage. Well worth watching if you haven’t already seen it.   

As infuriating as the delays to No Time To Die are, was the right thing to do, all I really want is to watch the movie in a cinema on the biggest screen I can find.

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Some directors make a big noise about a new film.  As such even casual film fans can identify them as the director of certain films.  Doug Liman is not one of these directors, he is the quiet man who lets his films speak for themselves, that is why he is the director you didn’t know that you loved, many people wouldn’t recognise him as  the director of many of his biggest films.  Is this because he hasn’t made any good films?  Clearly not, he has made a few good films and three or four great ones. 

Doug Liman made his breakthrough with his second feature, the often imitated Swingers (1996).  Based on a script from first time writer Jon Favreau, it isn’t a perfect film, its far less polished than we have come to expect from Liman, but the shakyness adds to the charm.  It was also the breakthrough film for Favreau as an actor, and his co star Vince Vaughn. Swingers

Next up is my personal favourite of Liman’s movies, Go (1999).  Katie Holmes, Sarah Polley, Timothy Olyphant, William Fichtner, and Taye Diggs may now be household names, but back in 1999, they were all relatively unknown.  With three overlapping stories on the streets of LA, comparisons to Pulp Fiction were inevitable.  But this is a more down to earth, a realistic LA inhabited by people we all recognise, without the glow of Michael Mann or the pop culture cool of Quentin Tarantino.  Directed with fun and confidence it was one of the best films of a very strong year. Go

Everyone knows that Paul Greengrass is the brilliant auteur director behind the Bourne movies, many forget the first, and my favourite of the series The Bourne Identity (2002) was directed by Doug Liman.  Liman had to do all the heavy lifting to introduce and position the character, something he does with ease and confidence.   The casting of Matt Damon and Franka Potente was inspired and nothing short of perfect.  The action scenes were a revelation making it one of the most influential films of the genre since Die Hard. The Bourne Identity

A more lightweight take on the genre Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) may not be a masterpiece, but it is good fun and worth watching for the chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  Jumper (2008) is silly and disposable, but it’s good fun, and better than the book on which it is based.  The true life thriller Fair Game (2010) lacks the excitement and flair to make it a great film, but it is a good and underrated one with fantastic performances. Mr & Mrs Smith Jumper Fair Game

What is the best Sci-Fi movie of the decade?  That’s a question for another day but the conversation must include the sublime Edge of Tomorrow (2014).  The tricky time-loop story is handled with ease and invention.  The action is amazing.  But best of all, the cast led by Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt is fantastic.  Cruise has fun playing against type as an initially cowardly character.  Blunt is an unlikely but brilliant action star.  I am really looking forward to the recently confirmed sequel: Live Die Repeat and Repeat. Edge of Tomorrow

Currently on general release in the UK and due for a North American release next week, American Made (2017) reteams star Tom Cruise with Liman.  A sometimes comic take on the true story of Barry Seal, a pilot who simultaneously worked for the CIA and Pablo Escobar during the war on drugs of the 70’s and 80’s.  Not the best film from either director or star, but with the fun and charisma you expect from both.  I don’t expect to see it on many “best of” lists at the end of the year, but I do think most people who sees it to enjoy it. American Made

If I haven’t convinced you, go and watch: Go, The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow and you, like me will be looking out for Doug Liman’s next movie with a certain sense of excitement. 

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With a rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.1 out of 10 on IMDB it is safe to say Edge of Tomorrow (2014) has been well received. This has been met with surprise as it is directed by Doug Liman. I really can’t see the negative reaction to Liman; his TV production credits may divide opinion but his flexography is beyond solid:edge of tomorrow

Fair Game (2010) was a solid, well made thriller, it was alitle pedestrian but on the other hand it was really well acted.
Jumper (2008) was lightweight and uneven but ultimately fun and actually an improvement of the source novel, whose execution never lived up to its concept.fair game

 Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Many people couldn’t get beyond the hype of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on screen together. If you get beyond this it is both fun and funny.mr and mrs smith

The Bourne Identity (2002) Paul Greengrass gets all the credit for his two Bourne movies, however they couldn’t exist without the introduction and exposition of The Bourne Identity. This however is unfair on Doug Liman, in most ways, his film is an equal to its sequels, it is also the film in the trilogy that I actually enjoy watching most and have seen the most times.the bourne identity

Go (1999) In 2012 I hosted a Blogathon called My Movie Year. It asked for participants to pick their favourite movie year and back it up with their five favourite films from that year. I picked 1999: Fight Club, The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut, The Straight Story and Go. as a collection of intertwined stories it is second only to Pulp Fiction. The cast includes Sarah Polley, Timothy Olyphant and William Fichtner, three of the most talented and underrated actors around. I love this film.Go

Swingers (1996) It would be easy to condemn Liman for launching the career of Vince Vaughn, however he is actually really good in this, his breakthrough film. it was also the breakthrough film for writer and co star Jon Favreau who went on to direct the first two Iron Man movies.Swingers

Give the guy a break and like my wait with anticipation for his next film, given his varied career to date, I have no idea what it might be.

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On episode 5 of the Film Don’t Hurt podcast Kai and Dylan talk about a list devised on The Vulture of the best 25 action movies since die hard. You can see what they came up with HERE. While I don’t disagree with any of there list (except Suppercop that I haven’t seen) I have my own ideas so thought I would come up with my own list. Die Hard is probably my favourite action movie. I have stated many times that it reinvented the genre. While this is largely true, if you look at it from a different point of view, it also killed the genre. Through the 70’s and 80’s action meant big men like Stallone, Schwarzenegger or Lundgren. With Die Hard Bruce Willis made it possible for the everyman to be an action hero. Then through the 90’s things changed with the rise of comic book movies and directors like Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich who just want to blow shit up. I like comic book movies but am a board of blowing shit up movies as reflected in my list. It was surprisingly difficult, there are at least another fifteen movies I would have liked to have included. I couldn’t decide on the order for the list. The best movies or the ones that represent the genre best. I decided to go for a chronological list, firstly for simplicity but I also think it gives an interesting overview of the changes in the genre. I used the same three simple rules:

Not every movie with action in it is an action movie. (it had to be a film that wouldn’t make any sense if you took all the action scenes out)

Only one film per franchise.

No animation.

Nikita (1990)nikita
Total Recall (1990)Total Recall
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)Terminator 2 Judgment Day
Point Break (1991)Point-Break Utah and Bodhi
Hard Boiled (1992)hard boiled
Speed (1994)Speed
The Crow (1994)The Crow
Desperado (1995)Desperado
Run Lola Run (1998)Run Lola Run
Taxi (1998)taxi
The Matrix (1999)The Matrix
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Gladiator (2000)Gladiator
Battle Royale (2000)Battle Royale
Blade II (2002)Blade 2
The Bourne Identity (2002)The Bourne Identity
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)uma thurman kill bill
District 13 (2004)District 13
Serenity (2005)river
Batman Begins (2005) (I prefer The Dark Knight but Batman Begins is more of an action film)Batman Begins
Casino Royale (2006)Casino Royale
Apocalypto (2006)Apocalypto
300 (2006)300
Doomsday (2008)Rhona Mitra Doomsday
Avengers Assemble (2012)Marvel Avengers Assemble
 

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