The reviews have started pouring in for the latest James Bond installment, Skyfall. After its release last week in England, friends of mine living abroad took to social media to express their feelings of the latest spy thriller. Again and again, the status updates were the same: “The best Bond yet!”; “Daniel Craig, you Rock”; “Best Bond ever!”; Now as someone who has been salivating over the trailers, it was pretty upsetting to be forced to endure the onslaught of social posts without being able to see it myself. So it got me thinking – while I didn’t have the time to revisit all of the Bond films this weekend, I did have enough time to do a little spy comparison excercise.
Now instead of doing the usual, “Who is the best bond?” I chose to compare the actors who played Bond and their movies, to their American spy equivalent and their movies. So instead of doing Sean Connery vs Timothy Dalton, I wound up with Sean Connery in Dr. No vs. Robert Redford in Spy Game, Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye vs. Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity and Daniel Craig in Casino Royale vs. Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Here are my results:
Robert Redford vs. Sean Connery
Spy Game vs Dr. No
Both actors are the epitome of rugged, and have the looks and sex appeal to make any man jealous. Dr. No was the beginning of a franchise, and Spy Game is lauded as one of the top spy films of all time. While Redford was older than Connery at the time, and therefore may lose the combat argument, I give him a slight advantage for spy ingenuity. Unlike Connery who constantly fell into the traps of Dr. Dent, multiple henchman, and Dr. No, Redford eluded all of his enemies by leading them astray and never giving them the chance to take action. Connery: 0, Redford: 1
That being said, a spy should be able to handle himself in combat. And though we do not know how Mr. Redford would fare, we are well aware that Connery can handle himself no matter what is thrown his way. Whether he was stuck in a cell, held at gunpoint, or caught amidst a high speed chase, Connery was always able to fight his way out. Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt Redford would have been able to punch a villain into a cooling vat and watch him boil to death. Connery: 1, Redford: 1
With no desire to have a tie, I turn finally to the conclusion of the film. Who best achieved goal the best? Were there repercussions? I give the edge to Connery in both of these criteria. Though Redford successfully coordinated a mission to save his partner (Brad Pitt), he goes to jail for disobeying his superiors. Connery, on the other hand, kills his enemy, makes away with the beautiful Ursula Andress, and gets to cruise around the Caribbean in a high speed boat.
Final Score: Connery: 2, Redford: 1
Matt Damon vs. Pierce Brosnan
Bourne Identity vs. Goldeneye
In evaluating the first two criteria, Pierce has an advantage in age and wisdom, and Damon has the edge in combat. Damon: 1, Pierce: 1
In this case though, combat and ingenuity are not the most important factors. In the end it all comes down to sanity. Both are cold blooded killers, but Damon is a killer who can’t get a grip on reality. Intense flashbacks haunt him throughout his mission and he fails to complete his goal at the end of the film. Pierce, on the other hand, has no problem pushing his enemy off of a 500 foot antenna, thereby saving Britain from a total economic meltdown. Sure, Damon is better looking (sorry, silver fox), but sanity for a spy is ten times more important than looks. Pierce gets double points for not losing his mind and therefore takes the crown.
Final Score: Pierce: 3, Damon: 1
Tom Cruise vs. Daniel Craig
Mission Impossible vs. Casino Royale
To me, Tom Cruise runs away with this one. Sure, Craig is handsome and successfully shoots his way out of every situation, but overall, he lacks the spy techniques to win this argument. Cruise uses high wire acts, explosive chewing gum, and some pretty sweet facial disguises, while Craig crashes an Aston Martin, destroys beautiful mansions, and in the end, fails to save the one he loves. Cruise is calculated, sneaky, and doesn’t even blink when people he cares for perish. To me, a true spy doesn’t let feelings get in the way of a mission. Sorry Craig, you lose.
Ok, so maybe I was a bit too rough on Craig, but this is how I have decided to take out my frustration resulting from the prolonged wait for Skyfall. So too bad!
Final Score: Cruise: 2, Craig: 0
If you guys want to continue weight in on my spy analysis s feel free to use the comment section below. If you are looking for more comparisons, here are a few suggestions from TV: Claire Danes in Homeland vs. Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary;Jennifer Garner in Alias vs. Dominic West in The Hour; and Kiefer Sutherland in 24 vs. James Nesbitt in Murphy’s Law. Good luck!