James Bond uncovers a nuclear plot while protecting an oil heiress from her former kidnapper, an international terrorist who can't feel pain.James Bond uncovers a nuclear plot while protecting an oil heiress from her former kidnapper, an international terrorist who can't feel pain.James Bond uncovers a nuclear plot while protecting an oil heiress from her former kidnapper, an international terrorist who can't feel pain.
It's true that the recent Bond films are choking on the formula. But it's not the idea of a formulaic Bond film that's at fault here. Indeed, the Bond formula is the most established, specific, franchised formula in film history, complete with obligatory plot twists, locale changes and even obligatory dialogue in mandatory scenes. But that's not the problem. The problem is that the inbred idiots in the Broccoli family who own the Bond franchise and who have final script and creative authority, choose (I think deliberately) to give us Bond films of the lowest common denominator, trying to maximize bottom line profit by making the films as dumb and over the top as possible. They choose to remain faithful only to those aspects of the formula that would seem to guarantee commercial success. Those formula points are:
1) Action set pieces that are determined to one-up all previous Bond action set pieces in terms of craziness, speed, and death-defying stunts, but to the point where they lose all credibility.
For example, Pierce's speedboat chase in TWINE, or his motorcycle leap off the cliff into the plane cockpit in Goldeneye are so ridiculous that you have to laugh at them. I just shook my head in disbelief when I saw that speedboat chase, which was way over-the-top to begin with, morph into a hot air balloon stunt, I could almost hear the Broccoli family having a round table discussion, saying "Hey, then we could move the action into a balloon! Huh? Isn't that nuts! Who wouldn't love to see Bond in a hot-air balloon!" By contrast, just about any car or boat chase from the Connery era is much simpler, more plausible, and ultimately more fun to watch on repeat viewings because it won't dissolve into farce.
2. A beautiful woman with a funny name.
Hey, I love Bond girls as much as anyone else. And the funny names are great. But didn't they use to act better? And have more to do? And be sophisticated? Denise Richards seems to be best suited for a poster. She's a respected nuclear physicist like I'm an Olympic figure skater.
3. Updating the Bond "look" to reflect whatever is currently on top of the charts.
The mangled version of the Bond theme was disgusting. Giving him a German car because BMWs are cool is stupid. He's a Brit for Gods sake. Bond is cool because he's COOL. He has actual Mojo. It's not the brand of Vodka he swills, or who designed his suit. Leave well enough alone.
Basically, this franchise is headed down the toilet. It's circling the bowl as we speak. They'll always make money, but the experience is changing. These days, going to a Bond film is like going to a Circus. You're going so you can Ooh and Aah at something, not to watch a coherent movie with things like characters and plot.
Remember when these films were spy movies first, action movies later? Remember the whole train sequence in From Russia With Love, where Bond plays a game of wits with the evil spy? Remember the great chemistry with Connery and Honor Blackman in Goldfinger? Remember how Connery or Moore could make a line classic just with great delivery, instead of having "great" one-liners scripted in advance?
In short, remember when these movies were good?
- Aug 21, 2000