duminică, 19 mai 2013

Argo - or why James Bond is a coward

Ian Fleming describes James Bond as being so successful at what he does because of "his exact attention to the detail of his profession". I have to disagree.

A single thought crossed my mind after watching "Argo": Finally a decent and reasonable spy movie! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a great action movie as much as anybody else, I love James Bond (especially for the cars) and also the entire "Mission Impossible" series. They all have their own charm. But we are allaware that the technology they use is unrealistic at best, the situations they escape absurd and the characters highly distorted So yes, I consider the people of "Argo" worthy of praise and respect.

Since the movie is based on a true story, I feel good knowing that reality can be, and occasionally, even is more ludicrous than any thought a scriptwriter could have. Secret agents are depicted as real people, flawed, weak, afraid. Although we know that their life is not all fun and games, we still envision the job they do in a distorted manner. It seems to me that they are often lonely, alienated from their friends and loved one. Dangerous situations are probably part of their existence, but not in the way the movie industry makes us believe through narratives filled with action and thrill. The true weapons of a good secret agent are deceit and wit. He is the perfect liar, he can be anybody and he is able to improvise even in the most perilous situations. It might be that my vision is biased and a bit askew, but I consider this image far more interesting than the typical Hollywood spy. Sorry to disappoint the fans of action movies, but they will not find the effects they are accustomed to in "Argo". Violence in that form and of such a magnitude can only exist in real life (unfortunately). No James Bond or Ethan Hunt ever found himself in such a position. So excuse me if I am impressed with what a handful of people managed to do and the courage they all showed. And above all, these are actually real people, who did it without being superheroes. I would have probably cried my eyes out in a similar situation. Few of us would be able to keep their cold blood, to adapt while helping others in the meantime. I ask myself, what would James Bond do? Our usual action movie character would have just ignited the entire building, while shooting his way out of the ruins between the few surviving enemies. Real people do not have this option. Capture and torture is not a passing adventure in the true world. You get hurt, you are scared, you devise a working plan, and all this while trying to save yourself and others around you. James Bond would have probably failed, while using as few resources as the characters in the movie. Real courage is not to look danger into the eyes, but to keep on going without looking at it at all;not to use the biggest guns, but none at all. True art is to escape unnoticed, not to leave explosions and destruction behind.

What I absolutely loathe about all the B class action movies is the lack of a coherent story. "Argo" is so much better, not only because of the sophisticated story line, but because it does not feel predictable. And this is a great accomplishment for a story I already know, since it really happened. I laughed at the absurdity of it all, I held my breath awaiting the next scenes and only at the end did I notice that my back was tense anticipating the escape of the hostages. Rarely do movies manage to make me feel like this, but this time it is an even greater accomplishment, since it is a historical movie and I knew the end.

Spies are maybe the last of their kind, men and women who posses true grit, risking their lives for others. I think of them as being the unsung heroes of our times, never officially rewarded for their deeds And this makes them so much more awesome. They don't ask for attention, on the contrary, they hide and sneak. I am sure they sometimes fail, but when they are victorious, you only see the saved day, not the saviors.

My only conclusion is that James Bond would have failed miserably. If actual people have accomplished to save themselves lacking support and training, then James Bond is kind of overrated.

In the end, I am happy to have seen a movie that touched me, that made me curious, that made me question and wonder. I suppose there is nothing more important.