Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Cinemaniacal: Bond, James Bond

The new James Bond movie is breaking all sorts of international box-office records, and not just by people wanting to find out what a Quantum of Solace is. Bond is back, and, in many respects, bigger than ever. I've talked about Bond before, in fact, my very first Cinemaniacal post was about my lifelong affection for films about Britain's most dashing secret agent.

Now some Bond purists are not happy with Quantum, it's not the quality of Quantum their complaining about, they seem to like it just fine, but it's the little things that separate Bond from the imitators. I'm talking about his flirtatious relationship with Moneypenny, the gadgets from Q Branch, and his intro- "Bond, James Bond."

I can understand the producers wanting to "update" the character, but in a way, Bond defies updating, because he is a man who exists outside of time. That's why the actors change, yet Bond remains essentially the same, a somewhat cold-blooded knight-errant taking down those who seek to terrorize the innocent out of an unfashionable sense of patriotism, which seems to be the only morality he holds. He's not modern, in fact he's practically medieval, in attitudes and methods, and attempts to strip away the things that signify his unique trail-blazing status, will just make him Jason Bourne with a British accent.

So if anyone from MGM-Columbia-Eon Productions is reading this, here are a few suggestions.

1. Bring back some gadgets. I'm not talking about the laser in a watch, the invisible car, or any of the more cartoonish gadgets. I'm talking about realistic gadgets, tiny listening devices, miniature drones with cameras, exotic firearms, but keep them within either the existing or at least the realm of the possible. They do exist, just look at history and inventions of the OSS/BSC and Charles Fraser Smith for inspiration. And if you operations of WW2 and the work of don't know who those are, you should not be allowed anywhere near a spy movie. Plus, think of the hype you can get by having a mystery about who will play Major Boothroyd/Q will have fanboys wetting themselves with glee. I vote for Stephen Fry.

2. Bring back Moneypenny if possible. This will be tricky, because it will be hard to match the wit, grace, and class that Lois Maxwell brought to the role, but it shouldn't be impossible if you're willing to look. However, if someone has the idea to cast Pamela Anderson or Paris Hilton in the part, slap them vigorously and repeatedly.

3. Let him be Bond, James Bond. The intro is an essential part of the brand, I'm not saying that you drop it every five seconds, but once a film is enough. Remember, Bond fans have expectations of entertainment and adventure, and the intro is a little nod to them that you promise to deliver.

4. Start redoing the books. Settle whatever legal claims are left over the ownership of Blofeld so you can bring back SPECTRE, Dr. No, and Goldfinger, updated and adapted for this modern age of terrorist warlords, drug lords, and manipulative billionaires. It can be done, very easily, and it would be the best way to show that the franchise has been truly rebooted, and they always had the best villains.

At least that's my opinion.

What do you folks think?


  1. I agree about re-doing the stories. Actually, Blofeld and SPECTRE are more believable villians today than they were 45 years ago, and Fleming was pretty prophetic in thinking them up. A quasi-financial, quasi-terrorist organization headed by a transnational billionaire certainly has a modern ring to it...


  2. You might be a little hard on Mr. Bond here, D. Bond does have moral values other than patriotism, which we can infer from the things that we see him do, and the things that we never see him do:

    -He never sleeps with an unwilling woman, or commits rape;
    -He never sleeps with a married woman;
    -He niver sleeps with an underage girl;
    -He never intentionally kills an innocent person;
    -He never lies about his feelings, that is, he never tells a woman he loves her just to get her into bed;
    -He is coniderate to those who work for him, or who are his subordinates, and he is loyal to his superiors, and he often risks his life for both;
    -He never boasts about his exploits, or uses them to bag chicks; if anything, he downplays them;
    -He only kills those with whom he is at war, or those who who try to kill him.

    In fact, James Bond pretty much sticks to conventional Judeo-Christian morality, the only exception being his sexual exploits with consenting, unmarried, adult women; but of course, even real knights were known for having that sort of weakness. Bond as depicted in film and story is a flawed man, a sinner, just like the rest of us; but he's is certainly not amoral.


  3. Dropping Miss Money-penny, Q and gadgets from the Bond series, is kind of like dropping capes, masks, and batmobiles from Batman. You can still make a realistic movie, while still including this stuff.

  4. "-He never sleeps with a married woman"

    Actually, in Casino Royale (the movie, no not the 1967 travesty) Daniel Craig's Bond sleeps with the (incredibly hot) wife of a bad guy, who seems incredibly eager to participate in the cuckolding of her husband.

    I agree with you that they should just go back to the books again - there's so much there, and it would be nice to watch a Moonraker that actually resembles Fleming's novel - i.e. no chintzy lasers or spacewalking.