Archive for action

James Bond as a genre

Posted in James Bond with tags , , on September 4, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

The Washington Post has an interesting interview up with Eric Lichtenfeld, the author of Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie. He is asked why he doesn’t cite Goldfinger as a turning point for the action movie in his book:

The Bond films (“Goldfinger” chief among them) have definitely been an influence on the action movie, just as the action movie has been an influence on the Bond films. I think you can look at the James Bond series as being its own genre; in fact, it’s probably the only franchise we could give this distinction to.

Still, I disagree that “Goldfinger” is the first action film. I start in 1971 because I believe that the movie that “started” the genre is “Dirty Harry.” The reason for this is that “Dirty Harry” was the first to combine the elements of other genres that make up the action movie, and became the archetype other action films responded to. (Of course, another ingredient of the action movie is heightened violence; “Bonnie and Clyde” set the stage for this in 1967.)

I think the influence of James Bond was felt later, especially as action movies came to feature bigger and more extreme stunts.


The Double-Barreled Action Women of GoldenEye

Posted in Bond Girls with tags , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

Action Heroine BlogathonToday is the Action Heroine Blogathon. There are lots of kickass action Bond girls, so I thought a lot about who to feature today. Even a relatively passive heroine like Domino Derval manages to kill the villain with some pretty decisive steel in her eyes.

Finally, I decided I just had to talk about GoldenEye, because it has two, count ’em two ass-kicking women.

Ass kicking women and Bond

Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) spends about half the movie in a fairly dowdy skirt-and-cardigan. Despite the lack of Bondian glamour, I rather like the outfit, because it’s expressive of the character; it’s what Natalya actually would wear. From the beginning, she shows not only strength, but depth. She’s tough enough and smart enough to be the only survivor of the Severnaya massacre, but human enough to weep for her dead friends.

Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) is her total opposite. Insanely glamorous, she’s also just plain insane. I don’t think there’s much in the movies as disturbing as watching Xenia have an orgasm while killing a roomful of people. Over-the-top is a fine line, and Janssen treads it admirably. She’s a FREAK with a capital FREAK, but she’s also a real character, stopping just this side of Fatima Blush territory.

In terms of action, yes, Natalya knows “how to use one of these” (guns) and Bond looks suitably pleased. She pushes him, hard, and she yells at him. Maybe somebody out there wants to call her a bitch, but y’know? Life in danger, things about to explode, not time to be polite. It’s more evidence that she’s human; fear, anger, and frustration are as present as action and adventure.

Back to back, villainess and heroine, ass-kicking and kicking-ass, GoldenEye is the must-see for the fan of the action female.