Bourne Identity Director Still Can’t Process That Today’s James Bond Era Copied His Style
If you called filmmaker Doug Liman’s 2002 film The Bourne Identity an excellent spy movie, you would not be wrong. You would also not be wrong to call The Bourne Identity the most influential action movie since The Matrix. The past two decades are filled with major action films that owe more than a little debt to Liman’s work, from John Wick to Mission: Impossible to the Daniel Craig era of James Bond. In an interview with Slashfilm, Doug Liman shared his feelings of confusion when he saw the unmistakable similarities between his movie and Casino Royale.
“I always wanted to make a James Bond movie, but they don’t hire American directors. By the way, you’ve made two little indie movies. You’re never going to direct James Bond. I went and made Bourne Identity, and then after The Bourne Identity came out, the next James Bond to come out was Casino Royale, which totally copied the tone of Bourne. I had a very surreal thing where I was sort of making Bourne because I really wanted to make Bond, and then Bond copied Bourne. I didn’t quite know how to process that. I still don’t know how to process that. I don’t know if I got what I wanted or didn’t get what I wanted. It’s beyond my computing power to know how to feel about that. It’s probably an unsatisfying answer. To say I’m annoyed or flattered would be easy, but I’m still confused about how should I feel this.”
At the time that The Bourne Identity came out, its popularity only further served to emphasize how campy and over-the-top the James Bond movies under Pierce Brosnan had become. Casino Royale was as much a revolt against the Brosnan era as it was a response to The Bourne Identity.
Instead of a suave, dry martini-sipping super seducer of women who could get out of any predicament with a nifty gadget, Casino Royale showed Daniel Craig as a spiritual successor to Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne: James Bond a fighting machine who could mow down any opposition, but got hurt in the process, and was haunted by his painful past.
As successful as The Bourne Identity was at reinvigorating the action genre, the road to making the movie was not easy for Doug Liman. The filmmaker recalled a particularly delicate moment when the studio wanted him to end the movie by having Bourne fight off hundreds of enemies, to which Liman responded with a decidedly indelicate memo in which he told the studio to “eff themselves”.
“It’s still one of my favorite mementos from my career. Universal told me the ending would be unsatisfying, and they wanted Jason Bourne to fight 200 people. I told the two executives to go eff themselves. Unfortunately, one of those executives now runs Netflix. I’m still proud of having sent that memo.”
While Liman’s outspokenness might make it difficult for him to get work at Netflix any time soon, the filmmaker is doing well for himself and continuing to push the action genre in new directions, particularly with his upcoming adventure film starring Tom Cruise that will be filmed in outer space. This news was first reported at /film.