A Bourne Again Holmes

Somebody is going to write a book on how the Bourne movies have reshaped action heroes. First James Bond got Bourne Again (in CASINO ROYALE), now it's Sherlock Holmes' turn. The new Holmes, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., is going to be as brawny as he is brainy. The New York Times reports:

Sure, he will still be smarter than everyone within a three-planet radius, and he will retain his uncanny ability to intuit whole life stories from the tiniest speck of dust on a shoe. But he will do those things while being a man of action, a chaser, shooter and pummeler of criminals — “like James Bond in 1891,” Joel Silver, one of the film’s producers, said last fall.
[…]The new Holmes is rougher, more emotionally multilayered, more inclined to run with his clothing askew, covered in bruises and smudges of dirt and blood. […]But when he applies himself, Holmes is as fast with his body — he is a bare-knuckle boxer, a crack shot and an expert swordsman — as he is with his mind.

Can a Bourne Again Robin Hood, Tarzan, and Popeye The Sailor be far behind?

10 thoughts on “A Bourne Again Holmes”

  1. NO NO NO! There ought to be a law! The camera should refuse to record the scene, movie projectors barf out the tapes, unshown, DVD players explode upon contact with this vile incarnation!
    Two thumbs down from me. Way down.

  2. Good insight. This Bourne effect will be especially interesting as it trickles down the popular culture ladder. How about Bourne-again Pink Panther? No, even better: Bourne-again Ace Ventura!

  3. A terrible trend in movies, if you ask me. My question is, at what point did every Hollywood action hero suddenly have to be stronger, faster and tougher than everybody else in the world, and at least three steps ahead of the bad guys?
    Now you can say, “It was ever thus,” but it wasn’t, really… even with the so-called “perfect” men of action like James Bond.
    Watch GOLDFINGER again if you don’t believe me. At the end of what remains the greatest 007 flick ever made, Bond is in Fort Knox getting his ass handed to him by an insanely powerful Korean named Oddjob… in other words, he is WILDLY overmatched here… until the last possible moment when he manages to THINK his way out of danger.
    Another example: THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, where Robert Redford’s handsome but milqtoasty bookworm (“I’m not a field agent- I just read books!”) ends up going toe-to-toe with a ruthless and formidable CIA assassin (who shows up posing as a mailman!) and Redford — like Connery’s James Bond — being unable to out-FIGHT his opponent, suddenly is forced to out-THINK the bad guy.
    Nowadays, action heroes can outfight anybody (any TEN bodies), and their movies as a result contain far less tension and suspense, because there is far less real danger.
    One last example, this time from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
    In that peerless adventure movie, Indiana Jones finds himself overmatched on several occasions, most stunningly on a desert air-strip where a burly bald-headed Nazi ends up using our hero as a punching bag.
    At first, Indy tries to “box” the guy according to Marquis of Queensbury rules, but this isn’t working. The guy is stronger. Faster. Tougher. In other words, Indy can’t win. (Imagine Jason Bourne facing a similar predicament. Go on, close your eyes and try to imagine it; I’ll wait right here. …Not so easy, is it?)
    Indy, of course, has to rely on his wits — and yes, a convenient airplane propeller – in order to gain the upper hand and emerge triumphant…and his triumph is much the sweeter (and somehow more “relatable”, too) because of it.
    The story of David and Goliath has endured for centuries because it’s so wonderful… an almost perfect adventure yarn. But in today’s Hollywood – don’t ask me how — David has transformed.
    Today at the movies, David has BECOME Goliath.
    And to me, that story isn’t half as good.

  4. I’d actually begin to warm to the idea of Downey-as-Holmes after reading some of his cogent thoughts about the character, but I fear that Joel Silver has talked me right out of it! I don’t like the sound of HIS movie at all.

  5. There’s an interesting law derived from sociology (I forget the name of it) but it goes: to dominate any system, the person must be able to execute all of the actions that can occur within the system. So Holmes, in fighting against modern crime, has to be able to meet every challenge modern crime can throw at him if he is to dominate the modern crime world — that’s the argument.
    As modern society becomes more and more capable of using ever-increasing scientific and technological knowledge and technique, so too does the hero have to be able to use all of them, to perfection, without the slightest hesitation, if he is to go on being the hero.
    It makes me wonder how far away are side-kicks to the hero who are robots with virtually superpowers. But it makes sense to me that “out thinking” the enemy is where the real power lies and so I think I’ll like heroes in the future who show a lot of intelligence.

  6. Thankfully, Robert Downey, Jr. is such a good actor that he’ll probably make the movie worth watching.
    Still, I don’t like this whole “Bourne Again” trend. What’s next? A remake of IRONSIDE starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a super-violent version of the classic detective?
    I can already hear the commercial voice-over: “He may be in wheelchair…but he WON’T be kept down!”

  7. While the novels were good, I never thought there was anything new or special about the Bourne films. The action had all been done before. I really can’t believe so many films get compared to them.
    Maybe I’m the only one, but I feel like the Bourne films are just poor, regurgitated, fluff.

  8. I’m a lifelong Sherlockian.
    The action stuff IS in keeping with Watson’s original description of Holmes as a jock. There’s a list in Study in Scarlet that Watson made while trying to figure out his new roomie.
    Number 11: “Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.”
    “Crack shot” comes into it later when Holmes punctures the walls of 221B with a Patriotic “VR.” Holmes usually had Watson bring along his service revolver, though, muddling through rather well himself with a weighted riding crop.
    I’ll give it a chance. Downey was major hawtness in Ironman.
    Though that’s got (cough-cough) *nothing* to do with my decision to buy a ticket…

  9. “Crack shot” comes into it later when Holmes punctures the walls of 221B with a Patriotic “VR.” Holmes usually had Watson bring along his service revolver, though, muddling through rather well himself with a weighted riding crop.
    Nearly twenty years ago, I read a funny article in the Baker Street Irregulars journal about Holmes’ marksmanship–or lack thereof. The writer pointed out that a) shooting the “VR” into a plaster wall would have had unfortunate results (Mrs. Hudson would have evicted them in no time flat); b) Holmes couldn’t hit the side of a barn when firing a pistol (Watson is the expert sharpshooter; Holmes is better off using his gun to pistol-whip somebody).


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