the film snob

A cyberspace journal about my experiences as an NYU film school grad student, reviews of current and classic films, film and TV news, and the rants and raves of an admitted (and unapologetic) film snob.

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Esse Quam Videri -- To be, rather than to appear

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Want To Know How To Kill Someone 213 Different Ways With My Thumb!

Alright, this question is for all the guys out there:

Guys, this weekend, I watched The Bourne Ultimatum again, this time with my wife who hadn’t yet seen it. I was gleefully excited for the film to begin. When it was over, I offhandedly said something about wishing I was Jason Bourne. My wife was taken aback and insisted that I clarify my statement.

“I wish I knew how to shoot like that,” I said. “I wish I knew how to fight like that. I wish I knew how to kill someone 213 different ways with my thumb. Not that I want to kill someone—I just want to know how. Should the need arise.”

This surprised her and lest she thought I was some sort of aberrant freak, I told her that the vast majority of men who were walking out of the theater with us felt the exact same way. Though she didn’t put me up to it, I told her if I informally polled those men filing out beside us, they would say the same thing. They too wanted to be Bourne. They too wanted to be Bond.

I tried to explain to her that it was important to us that we be in the right and fighting for a good cause.

“We don’t get like this watching a serial killer movie,” I insisted. “But it’s a fantasy every guy harbors to be a spy on a cat and mouse chase where lives hang in the balance and the world depends on us coming out on top.”

So, I ask you, am I way off here? Is it just me? (Later that night we asked a friend if he felt the same way and he said, “Oh yeah, absolutely.” And he’s a priest!) So back me up guys—not that the majority can’t be a bunch of hardened, violence loving sociopaths—but did you walk out of Bourne wishing you could be him or is it just me?


Anonymous nate said...

No, it's everybody. Frankly, I assumed it was everybody, as in, both sexes, but whatever.
Who doesn't want to be able to collapse somebody's windpipe with a rolled up magazine? I mean, c'mon.

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Not just you for sure. I'll never look at a book the same way after watching Bourne Ultimatum...

5:42 AM  
Blogger bulkywaters said...

It's good to know that I'm not the only one out there who feels this way.

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Just like when watching Fight Club, I wanted to get my friends together and beat the crap out of each other.

I'm just now catching up on the Bourne Phenomenon, saw Identity and Supremacy just last week. I'll have to ask my wife what her thoughts are on the inspiration to kick butts and forget the names after watching such a flick.

Why do we watch those types of movies again and again? I just saw The Transporter again for the umpteenth time.

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Johnny said...

HA! You struck a chord in every guy that has watched Bourne! I must say using a book to punch the daylights out of someone is genius! I too came out saying something along the lines of "I've always wanted to be a spy!" Only to get a "you're just like my dad!" from my girlfriend. So that makes two accounted for on my side!

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Seth said...

I definitely feel that way. In fact, it's one of the reasons why watching the spy movie genre is entertaining to me. I like that feeling at the end.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Brandon, perhaps I am the only woman who feels this way...I saw Bourne this weekend and what ticks me off is helpless women who can't seem to fight worth a crap. As exemplified by the female agent Nikki, who apparently did not receive the same training as Jason Bourne/David Webb. I'm still waiting for most moviemakers to stop depicting supposedly tough women as weak and in need of rescuing. I'd like to see them kick some ass! Just FYI, I came out wishing I could fight like Bourne, too...I guess I'm 'unique,' as I've been informed by a friend.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Yeah, that part bothered me too, but to play devil's advocate, she was an office/tech agent, not a field agent, so no, she had not recieved the same training.

Maybe I should not have limited this to guys only. Are there other women who are also "unique?"

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Come to think of it, Brandon...I'm a little ticked at you for asking only your MALE readers to respond to your question. Why not ask everyone?

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm no and yes. Always after Bond, I feel quicker, faster, smarter, better looking and five minutes later when i see my reflection and reality sets back in I do wish I was actually all of those things along with a license to kill. But not after Bourne, probably because the poor sap is so F'd, those 'gifts' don't seem worth it.

But for the most part this is a YES answer! I get the same thing with my wife, but c'mon it is a Mars/Venus thing, testosterone is the Id hormone and just feeling like you want those things doesn't make you a sociopath. c'mon woman fantasize about having a different life (especially after chick flicks) about as much as men get erections, but it doesn't make them 'krazy' does it? hmmm does it?

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading your blog entry, I can assure you, though I am not running to the theater to see the dreamy Matt Damon save the world, that this is why we watch movies.

They make us want to be something we can’t be…As a kid, I was insanely jealous of Marty McFly because he got to experience time travel (I was also jealous that he got to fly on a hooverboard…I was 9…its excusable) something that I was obsessed with.

Now, I don’t know your wife but she must have seen something over the years and aspired to be that character…Dorothy in Oz? Lisa in Casablanca?

Lara Croft in Tomb Raider? Excuse the Monday morning ramble…but I think you see where im going with this.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Oh I don’t think the putting yourself in another character thing is at all weird to her. It’s that I want to be someone who spends half the movie putting bullets in people’s brains or beating the crap out of them. How could anyone WANT to be that sort of violent person?

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh…well…see, yeah that’s different.

Girls (most of them at least…living with two girls for the last two years has made me change my opinions a little) don’t understand that kind of “dude mentality” and that’s exactly why…they aren’t dudes.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Guys are MADE to want to fight for the good and right thing. All of us, male or female, want to fight for good and right stuff - it's why we always cheer for the underdog or for the good guys like Bond or Bourne. We always want to be a hero in SOMEONE'S eyes. I gotta admit there are times when I wished I could fight with that kind of risk and courage. I'm with you on this one Brandon but I do think it is a question meant for both sexes! I'd absolutly fight if I was called on to do so and it was the good and right thing.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous roodles said...

*tsk, tsk, tsk* Brandon for your gender specific address. I also want to learn how to kick butt like Jason Bourne after seeing these movies. Frankly, I feel like these are survival skills that women need more than men these days! That being said I'm generally a nonviolent person. Generally...

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does it stir up a side of your character you wish you had or does it highlight a side of your character?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Jon C. Fibbs said...

Although I have yet to see the third film I will add my two cents, or 32 cents as the case may be.

I, like most folks my age, practiced my swan kick for hours after watching karate kid and shadow boxed endless contenders after seeing one of the Rocky films. I was a kid, and that's what kids do. Now, as an adult, I no longer actually physically enact such things, but that does not mean that I don't wish I had those abilities.

I think for me, and where I'm at in life-somewhat philosophically speaking-the Bourne films tap into that wish more so than other films. I didn't leave the latest Bond film with any such desires because to be honest with you I didn't find his character (in both the cinematic and ethical sense of the word) to be worthy of emulation. To boot, the Bond films have always engaged in over the top action sequences that defy belief and place them firmly in the arena of qasi-fantasy -an America take on Hong Kong films like Crouching Tiger where the hero is possessed of superhuman powers and is virtually untouchable by foes (and yes, the last was no exception despite the studios much needed pull back, it just seemed more realistic in comparison to the multiple loathsome releases that proceeded it)

Bourne is different. Well, the second one any way. The first was a little over the top, and I have yet to see the third, but the second was pitch perfect. Here is guy that may very well know 213 ways to kill a man with his thumb, but the film never forgets that he is human and can still bleed. He never engages in actions that seem unbelievable or unachievable by a highly trained individual. He injures himself and his mistakes (which he is capable of making) cost him dearly.

But, above that, there is something still more to the Bourne films that the Bond film do not-indeed cannot-possess that to me makes them all the more enthralling and the character of Jason all the more worthy of emulation envy. At the risk of sounding like a super-spiritual Christian that sees all things through the light of spiritual concerns, I cannot give myself over to the Bond films because I’m always thinking in the back of my mind that he is nothing more than the hired thug of the State. A mass killer for hire magically made legal by nothing more than the say so of his retainers who just happen to democratically elected, or appointed by those who are.

Bourne is different. Bourne fights for no flag; for no government. There is no “us vs. them”, “good guys vs. bad guys” storyline here. Bourne fights for himself, and his opponent IS the State. These films are one man’s struggle to exist when the leviathan turns on and tries to eat its “own”. Instructional in that it shows what happens when an individual reclaims himself and removes the collar from his neck. Although fictional, I have no doubt that such methods could and would be employed against someone in shoes.

This is what, for me, makes his exploits all the more engrossing. Here is one man against the leviathan, and he takes everything they dish out and then brings the game back to them. The best and the brightest are smashed against him like great waves against a rocky cliff. He doesn’t come away unscathed, and endures great loss at the hands of our public servants, but he refuses to bow down his head and go quietly into the night. It is nice to think that it may just be possible to remain one step ahead of them and outsmart their every move.

While I no longer wish to have a State issued license to kill, it would nevertheless be awesome to possess the skills and knowledge necessary to make myself untouchable from aggression…using only my thumbs.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Aye Anonyous, there's the rub!

8:17 PM  
Blogger seapea said...

hey, don't be a sexist. i want to be bourne too!!! (super cool under stress, ability to speak multiple languages, blend in and out of crowd, super quick reflexes that put cats to shame, etc. etc.)

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to be BOURNE!

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are totally correct with your comment. I have throughly enjoyed every comment on this subject and I gotta say, you must have about a 99% agreement on your theory. I have been a cop in the 2nd largest city in the US for 26 years, and I still have that desire to kick doors in and repel off roofs. I have experienced many tense and exhilirating situations in person. But to see what Bourne can do and the ultimate believability of his character is intoxicating. I found myself wanting to be in his shoes in all three movies. Would I love to have his abilities? You betcha! Did I walk out of the theatre a bit taller and think for a minute that I could be like him? Yes indeed. Am I gonna see the Bourne Ultimatum again? Absolutely. Am I hoping for a 4th installment? Hell yes.

11:07 AM  

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