James Bond

(Asa) #561

^^^^^^ She is superb, isn’t she?


Octopussy (Glen, 1983)

(Straightaway, let’s just take the cocking dreadful Coolidge number All Time High as the pile of auld spunkfling that it is, so we don’t have to dissect it any further, cool? Cool)

The quite hideously-titled Octopussy, then. Hm. I have to say, I didn’t find it nearly as objectionable as I assumed I might. The story yet again was appropriately Bond-sized in its reach, the gadgets started creeping back in again but were, for the large part, fairly low-tech (floaty croc-a-float thing) or, at least, fairly low-key; the plane out the horse’s @rsehole was probably the "Bond"est of gadgets and it was over and done with before the opening title credits hit (No, we’re not discussing All Time f*cking High. We agreed that), I again enjoyed the locations; I was beginning to wonder when the sub-continent would put in a significant appearance, the tone - with some glaring exceptions - was largely serious and befitting of the franchise as I appreciate it, and tennis player Vijay Amritraj, who I thought would balls everything up… um, didn’t. He was quite good really, all things considered and despite the heavy-handed tennis gags.

Still, it’s far from top-tier stuff. Why? Well it’s hard to put my finger on it since much of what I dislike about Bond has still been jettisoned for this outing. I think that the most obvious things to which I can point are that a) it’s almost certainly a good half-hour too long and b) it’s… well, it’s just a bit dull, really. Beautiful at times, but dull. Like a Bond girl! Talking of which: Maud Adams (Octopussy), Kristina Wayborn (Magda) - nah. You can keep the pair of 'em. Stephen Berkoff unabashedly screaming his head off and chewing the scenery non-stop simply kept pulling me out of the proceedings. I was sure he was trying not to corpse throughout his performance. I know he was playing a Russian but he kept reminding me of either Ade Edmondson or Ken “Reg Holdsworth” Morley in their comedy turns as German military officers in Blackadder Goes Forth and Red Dwarf VII respectively. I read that critics and fans alike were unimpressed by James Bond being made to dress up in a clown outfit but that didn’t bother me, and not just because I’d already referred to Moore’s Bond as a clown previously. No, if he’s a spy, he needs to be undercover, in whatever outfit is appropriate. What did grate though was the “Tarzan” ullulation as Commander B swung from a vine, and also agent Vijay attracting Bond’s attention as he stepped ashore with a blast of the Bond theme on his pungi. Needlessly kept pitching the movie - and by association, the entire franchise - back into daft light comedy territory.

Ah well. A “meh” film, but tbh I was expecting a lot worse, so we’ll bung it in the “partial victory” pile, eh? One more Rog to go.

(Asa) #562

A View to a Kill (Glen, 1985)

As with Octopussy, this wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. Wasn’t great - very little from the Moore era has been - but it wasn’t terrible by any stretch and was quite fun here and there. As a film it was once again overlong, and “needlessly convoluted” is the norm for the franchise at this point; Fiona Fullerton was a top lass in her day but that entire tape-swap fake-out sequence could have and should have been snipped out of the picture. And the globetrotting nature of the Bond films felt laboured this time somehow, as though the writers identified Ascot, Paris and 'Frisco as locations first and then built the story backwards from there. And for all I know maybe that’s how they build all the Bond films, but it felt engineered this time. Racetracks, restaurants in observation towers, Silicone Valley - the entire story could’ve taken place in California. Still, Christopher Walken is always a great watch and that’s no different here. For pantomime-style scenery chewing, there is none finer. Well, maybe Alan Rickman. Has he ever been a Bond villain? They’re missing out if he hasn’t. But I digress. Grace Jones was (IMO) surprisingly good as a Bond villain henchman, even if the lifting-a-bloke-over-her-head trick looked like the sort of gag you’d see in a comedy. But she certainly looked the part; she has always typified the ludicrous excesses of the eighties but she’s always also managed to carry that off well. And Patrick Macnee looked like a natural fit as a Bond character even if he was starting to resemble a blancmange by 1985. It felt as though he’d been playing the part for a while and it was a shame they killed him off here as IMO Sir Godfrey Tibbett could’ve provided a decent light-hearted foil for Bond in at least another couple of pictures. Alas, Tanya Roberts was IMO a poor Bond girl. Moderately attractive in that wide-eyed eighties sort-of way, but unremarkably so. And her character Stacey was an irritating archetypal “helpless” woman, common to many lazily-written cinematic clunkers and uncommon anywhere else. Great tune from Duran Duran; don’t know if it felt particularly like a “Bond” theme but it was (and remains) a decent number. Not that I’d imagine anyone would “dance into the fire”, except for Norman Wisdom, possibly.

So, that’s the Roger Moore era all squared away (I see from Wiki that it was also Lois Maxwell’s final turn as Miss Moneypenny. Good job too, her and Moore were becoming indistinguishable). There have been a few highs (For Your Eyes Only, elements of Live and Let Die and The Spy Who Loved Me to a lesser extent). There have been a few lows (Moonraker, Rita Coolidge, the issue of Moore’s advancing years which were a slight concern as soon as he debuted and which had become a colossal elephant in the room by the time of his departure), but probably not as many as I’d suspected there would be. But what there has been in abundance is a whole lot of “Meh”. Too silly for the nature of the character and his world but not amusing enough to get away with it, not enough courage in its convictions to present anything with any honesty but expecting us to buy into Roger Moore f*cking and Kung-fu-ing his way around the planet when he looks in dire need of a shopmobility scooter, a blanket over legs and a nice nap. In many ways - and rightly so - the entire Bond franchise has maintained certain defining characteristics as any brand should, but at the same time the Moore films have felt like a very different experience than the Connery/Lazenby films, and not in the good way. I’ve come too far to stop now and, in fairness, I’m looking forward to the remainder of my Bond quest, but if Moore had preceded Connery instead of succeeding him, I reckon I’d have quit inside three films. Old Rog was nowhere near as offensive as I thought he was going to be but unfortunately for the most part he and his movies never had quite enough about them to be anything more than the sort of fare to which one can nod off on a lazy bank holiday afternoon, which explains exactly why ITV always put them on at those times.

Tiger Tim next! I understand he did quite well in the Bond role, brief as his tenure was. He really shouldn’t have given it all up for the tennis.

(Asa) #563

The Living Daylights (Glen, 1987)

[i]“I’m a British agent, he’s a defector, you’re a sniper assassin… no, hang on: He’s a pretend defector, you’re his missus, and I’m his mate… no no, only joking, I AM a British agent and he IS a fake defector, and… well, you ARE his missus but you haven’t got a scooby, love.”

“No! I HAVE got a scooby, and you are a KGB fckbum, out to kill my man! So I’ve drugged you up like a kipper… Oh noes! It turns out I didn’t have a scooby, you’re not a KGB fckbum after all, and my man is a fake defecting money-roller, spunking Soviet down-payments to an arms dealer on lashings of brown and then squirrelling the proceeds along with the arms dealer who’s in on the fix! Sh*t@rse!”

“Sh*t@rse indeed, you silly tart! Now we’ve got to break out of this jail! Lucky I’ve got this whistly-listeny stun-watch.”[/i]

“You were fantastic! We’re free!”

“Kara, we’re inside a Russian airbase in the middle of Afghanistan…” (Actual lines of dialogue, there) [i]"…you vacuous f*cking doughnut."

“How in sh*tting criminy are we going to bust out of this jib-joint, Jimmy?”

“Don’t worry, our great mates the Afghan Mujahideen will help us. They’re our friends! Do you know why they’re called “Afghan Mujahideen”? It’s for the initials: A.M… Art Malik! He’s their boss! Yeah. He’s well aware that his career is only going to get him through the nineties (no bugger will recognise him by the time he makes it onto Homeland), so he thought he’d start up a fully armed fan club for when things get a bit thin, you know.”[/i]

Ah, The Living Daylights. Harkening back to a simpler time, when Jihadists were like a sort of friendly real-world Rebel Alliance, when Art Malik was more ubiquitous than Ant and bloody Dec, and when Maryam d’Abo, Julie T. Wallace and a-ha all had day jobs.

I know everybody likes to keep track of how many Bonds there have been, but is anyone paying any attention to the Felix Leiters? How many are we on by 1987? Seventeen, is it? Forty-six? A hundred-and-three? They change that f*cker up every single scene he’s in, don’t they? And still none of them have bettered Jack Lord. Still, I’m up to Jimmy B number four, and I think Mr. Dalton’s very good here in a good movie that’s just shy of real greatness. Once again, gadgets were kept on the down-low but when they were utilised they were very good, the main one here of course being the tricked out V8 Vantage Volante, almost as sexy as the DB5 of old and starring this time in the perennial snowbound chase sequence where it also sadly meets its end. But of course it had to die, else we wouldn’t have been treated to Bond and Kara tobogganing down a mountain together in a cello case. There’s still a lot of catching up to be done on the Bond Girl front now, though. It’s becoming critical. I mean, Maryam d’Abo is lovely, but the character of Kara Milovy wasn’t a “sexy” Bond Girl, was she? This was a much more doe-eyed, Cupid’s Arrow type of a deal, wasn’t it? Indeed, much of the middle of the film was a sort of Road Movie/Romance hybrid. I liked the henchman a lot though, and “Necros” is a top “henchman” name. And I liked the new Moneypenny a LOT. Maybe they’ve sexed her up a bit TOO much, though; back when she resembled Christine Hamilton one could understand why Bond limited their interplay to the odd dirty limerick. Here though, I wondered why he didn’t just throw her atop a lab table, stuff his plums in her mouth and tell Q and his poindexters to do one for ten minutes while she hums the theme tune to Z-Cars. I couldn’t buy into Saunders however, chiefly because he was also Heimi Henderson the off-licence owner in The Comic Strip Presents… Mr. Jolly Lives Next Door. Hm, I wonder if the Living Daylights screenwriters nicked the exploding milk bottle gag from the exploding tonic water gag in Mr. Jolly?

Anyway, I liked it. And I really liked Tim Dalton. I bought into him as James Bond from the off and I didn’t find my mind wandering back to other previous Bonds for comparison, either. The Mujahideen bit all seems a bit odd here in 2015 but what can you do? That was the world then and this is the world now. And the theme tune from a-ha is dated now but in the good way, like a Rubik cube. “The living’s in the waay, weeeeee, diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieee!” Nope, didn’t make a lick of sense, that. Still, good stuff.

Roll on Licence to Kill (1989). What is a licence to kill, anyways? Can he just arbitrarily shoot anyone, perfectly legally? Like, if Amazon say they’ll be at Bond’s gaff by lunchtime and then they don’t show up with his King of the Hill DVD until f*cking nine o’clock that evening, can he pop a cap straight in the surly courier’s nostril on his own front doorstep? If so, how can I go about getting me one of those licences?

(Asa) #564

Licence to Kill (Glen, 1989)

The Secret Diary Of Benicio del Toro, Clearly Aged 13¾

[i]Friday - My ballbags have just dropped. Aye Caramba! I’d better quit my boy band - The Funky Contras - and become a henchman to a suitably pock-marked Bond Villain.

Saturday - My new boss has just been nabbed by the Rozzers, including one who was getting married at the same time. Alicante! I’d better get stuck in by ensuring that the bride gets a “nice honeymoooooooon.” Muy es Bueno!

Sunday - Fed the sharks at Krest’s place. Shat myself when it jumped up at me. Fortunately: One Sheet does plenty! Stayed in that evening though, to finish my Geography coursework. ¡Ole!

Monday - Chiquitita! Just got a sweet gold tooth cap, free in this week’s issue of Whizzer & Chipotle. I’m going to wear it tomorrow night, see if I can get in a grown-up bar, dazzle some senoritas, eh? Lucha Libre!

Tuesday - Went to a sweet marine bar. Wore my tooth cap. The barman totally bought that I was 18! Muchos gracias, Whizzer & Chipotle! Started to pull this sweet Yank sort but in comes this widemouth Taff bastardos with the cock-block! Torremolinos! I heard her tell him I was in the Contras. I hope for the sake of my still-burgeoning machismo that he assumes she meant the Nicaraguan rebels, and not the boy band I walked out on earlier this week. Enrique Iglesias!

Wednesday - I’ve come with the boss to his meditation retreat. It’s a bueno looking place amigos, and I thought we were getting sweet massages, but - Una Paloma Blanca! - the whole place is a bastardos-strength cocaine lab! And… hey, I recognize that new guy my boss took on the other day… it’s that no good somonabitch Taffy cock-block! Old El Paso! I’m going to throw him in the coke-brick smasher, I assume I’ll be completely safe in a situation like that…[/i]

Yes, I liked this one a lot. Nearly fell off my chair to see a Leiter I’d seen before already. Immediately took to Bond in this location, though. Despite being 500 miles away and the wrong side of Cuba, I think the Florida Keys feels close enough to placing our James back Underneath the Mango Tree from whence he sprang, and I think he suits the West Indies. Or they suit him. The plot was a strange one: It felt at first as though it was going to be a very un-Bond-like story of straight-up revenge, and I suppose ultimately that’s what it was, but it seems as though Bond fortuitously stumbled upon some very typically Bond style shenanigans along the way. Who knew that the guy Leiter was after all these years would also have a big underground drug factory fronted up by Wayne bloody Newton of all people? Of course, Breaking Bad taught me that all big-time drug barons like a bit of underground factory action so, maybe it’s not so far fetched after all. Quite bloody here and there for a Bond film though, wasn’t it? Poor old Krest getting the Scanners treatment in that pressurised diving chamber was a bit strong, although it did remind me that I need to buy a couple of pumpkins today, so there’s that.

I loved Robert Davi as Big-Bad-of-the-Week Franz Sanchez. He’s got such a great face. A bad guy face, you know? And despite taking the p*ss there, I thought young Benicio was really good too. He looked very young, yes, but the charisma and the personality was already there, wasn’t it? Tim: “Take your hands off her!” Benicio (grinning): “Nobody asked you, gringo…” Fantastic. Bond girls Talisa Soto (Lupe) and Carey Lowell (Pam) were of the Maryam d’Abo very-pretty-but-not-especially-sexy variety, although they’re moving back in the right direction again (Ms. Soto in particular). What sort of a Bond Girl name is “Pam”, though? What happened to the good old days of “Jalapeno Clitsmack” or similar? No doubt, I’ll be ogling Diedre Piecrust and Vera Gobphlegm in the next movie. Alas.

As to the theme this time round… meh, can’t say I was too bothered by it one way or t’other. Gladys’ sparkly-gowned attempts at Bassey-ing the fck out of that mo’fo just felt typical for a non-specific Bond movie in general, even if it felt entirely inappropriate for Licence to Kill in particular. It’s what Big Shirl has done to the franchise for better or worse, and which is why whingeing doughfaced shtbums like Adele and Samantha Smith are selected for Bond-Tune duty to this day. Ah well.

But no, I liked this one and it’s a shame to be saying hwyl fawr and iechyd da to Mr. Dalton so soon. Both of his pics slot in for me just behind my big favourites.

“The Brosnan” next. I’m led to understand that I get a free pass into this era with the largely popular GoldenEye before it starts to go truly belly-up. Here’s hoping.

(Phil H) #565

Brilliant. ;D

(John Welles) #566

Spectre (Mendes/15)

Appreciative of the fact that many of you here have not yet seen this and, like Skyfall, it’s best seen knowing very little (the trailers thankfully only truly focused on the film’s first half), so spoilers here will be kept to a minimum. It’s a terrible way of putting it, but those of you who thought Skyfall was a high watermark for the series will also find this a tremendous film. Mendes brings a level of intelligence and sophistication to the direction that hasn’t been seen in the series since Terence Young: while making clear homages to a variety of past Bond films (from Dr No to From Russia with Love and even North by Northwest), it’s still very much its own film. The opening five minute(?) extended take is truly phenomenal and unprecedented; suffice to say that Hoyte van Hoytema (shooting on film unlike Roger Deakins with Skyfall) crafts an amazingly beautiful film. The action scenes are also a cut above, mixing reality and CGI (and models) artfully, in the process creating a few moments when the cinema audience gasped. It’s intriguing to note as well, that this is probably the most referential of all Bond films, in terms of resolving many of the plot points set up by the previous three Craig films.

It should be noted that this is probably the most humourous of all of Daniel Craig’s Bond films and it works well as it always complements the scenes, rather than as in the Moore era, dominating them. In a few other clear ways (which are best left to be discovered while watching) this is the most ‘classical’ of modern James Bond films, making for an incredibly satisfying, tight film, despite its length. In comparison to Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Spectre is simply operating on a higher cinematic level - the former (rather like the TV series in fact) is just ersatz Bond.

Some notes on the cast: the core figures around Craig’s Bond - Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris, are all fine and the new cast: Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista and Christoph Waltz are excellent; Seydoux in particular, is almost an old-fashioned Bond girl, but she is very memorable in her role.

This is not a perfect film and my criticisms reveal some key points of the film: Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh as a government official is underwritten and frankly, under-performed and should’ve been revised as he’s just not interesting enough to sustain the film’s focus. The two-part climax doesn’t quite come off either: after a powerful torture scene, the film feels slightly rushed and neglects an incredible environment - it doesn’t work as well as the more apocalyptic conclusion to Skyfall, which is why I would rank Spectre ever so slightly below that film. However, there are several astonishing scenes in this film which rank as memorable as anything I’ve seen this year and the superlative ‘superb’ springs to mind when describing the film.

(Reverend Danite) #567

Great review John - just needs a few "f*ckbum"s; "spunkfling"s and "bumwipe"s to give it that special touch a la last.caress’s reviews… :wink:

(Phil H) #568

Nice review, John.
Went to see this with the family yesterday and everyone had a good time but all agreed that Skyfall rated a little higher. There were some big holes in it which left me thinking “What the…?” But hey, it’s a Bond film so shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Doesn’t rate among the highest of the series for me but a couple of hours well spent. One thing I will say is that it should be Craig’s last outing as Bond. He is now looking too old in my book and we don’t want him going all Roger Moore on us do we.

(Stanton) #569

Skyfall was at least the weakest of the first 3 Craig Bonds, but I will see if Mendes can more than bluffing.

(John Welles) #570

Interesting. I thought Craig was actually at his most comfortable here; he has hinted this might be his last (and the ending resolving all the previous plot points hints at that), but I wouldn’t be surprised if EON went once more to the well with Craig. At least it would stave off the inevitable, interminable “who should be the next Bond?” discussions…

(Phil H) #571

Don’t get me wrong. He was absolutely fine. But the wrinkles are now showing and the lip is starting to droop and he is pushing 48 years old. If he makes another he will be over 50 by the time they do it and that would make him the eldest Bond since Roge. As it is, he looked far better suited to the 51 year old widow at the early part of Spectre than he did with the young blonde at the end and that is not a good thing for Bond I think. He looks good for his age of course and handles the action scenes fine (or at least his stunt man does) but I think it is better to change before he becomes obviously out of place. The series has a history of making that error so I hope he is strong in saying no to any more. With this film he could go out on a high too which is always nice.

(Stanton) #572

I think Craig should do one more, but it is obvious that his face has aged fast since Quantum of Solace.


Spectre- Opens up on Friday 6th here in the States. I’ll probably go see it, if i can get one of my buddies to go with.

(ENNIOO) #574

Hope a new actor takes over from Craig as have just never taken to the actor really.

(scherpschutter) #575

Same thing here. I liked Skyfall because it simply was a good action-spy-whatever-adventure. I watched it as such, not really as a Bond movie.

To me Craig is a Bourne, no Bond. No real 007 feeling for me.

(Asa) #576

GoldenEye (Campbell, 1995)

Tomorrow Never Dies (Spottiswoode, 1997)

I’v decided to take the Brosnans out in two double-bills: Hit 'em hard, hit 'em fast. And this first double-outing all went a bit Game of Thrones, with Bond taking on Lord Eddard Stark in the first movie and The High Sparrow in the second. Seven Hells! But how were they?

Well, GoldenEye was, I thought, really rather good. As much as Sean “Blunts-Loving Bumwank” Bean is a Blunts-loving bumwank, I must begrudgingly admit through gritted teeth that he’s also a very charismatic actor and this is certainly the case here in his performance as Alec “006” Trevelyan. Who knows, in another lifetime he may even have made a decent Bond. The movie opens magnificently and, whilst that opening spills into ridiculousness, it does so with a verve that makes it all okay. Brosnan himself was actually not too bad at all, other than that I couldn’t really tear my eyes away from his “Play-Doh Barber Shop” hairstyle. I rather unfairly wanted to immediately dislike him and I just couldn’t. He was good. Judi Dench owned the few scenes she was in as one would expect and Q’s scene was genuinely familiar and funny, massively helping to ground our new Bond in the Bond world. The locations were rather dour by Bond standards - a brief stopover in Monte Carlo notwithstanding - but I liked them anyway; The whole movie had a bit of a Metal Gear Solid look to it. Alas, Miss Moneypenny has been downgraded from the saucy Caroline Bliss to the more ordinary Samantha Bond, although this was not as much of a distraction as Alan fcking Cumming, who appeared to be performing in a different movie altogether, a farcical comedy called "Look Everyone! It’s Me! Alan Fcking Cumming!" or similar. But even more distracting than any of that was Joe Don Baker. Hang on! Weren’t you the villainous Whitaker only a couple of films ago in The Living Daylights?? I know he’s not the only actor to have been in a couple of roles within the Bond franchise, but such a recognisable guy, in movies so close to one another? That was a mis-step, I feel.

Bond Girls? Well, Izabella Scorupco is undeniably lovely although she continues the unfortunate trend of “Girl-Next-Door”-style Bond Girls. However, all of that cutesy nicety is thankfully swept away by the carnal spectacle of Famke Janssen as the fabulously named Xenia Onatopp. Ms. Janssen is kind-of hard-faced but she’s incredibly sexy, she always seems even sexier when she’s playing a scoundrel, and here in GoldenEye she’s the very embodiment of sex, killing people as she does with them clutched 'twixt her thighs. What a way to go!

The theme tune was yet another slab of overindulgent Basseywauling, courtesy this time of Tina “Put 'em away, love” Turner, but all in all, GoldenEye was a decent start for the Brosnan age. It’s slightly concerning that we’ve clearly waved goodbye to the ever-so-slightly more “real world” Bond of Dalton/Lazenby/early Connery and said howdy once more to the more outlandish Moore/late Connery Bond, but this was a good example of that type of film.

So, can they keep it up with Tomorrow Never Dies?

No, they can’t.

Despite another impressive opening scene (followed quickly by a fantastic theme tune from Sheryl Crow, the best theme since A View to a Kill) the movie is undone by a ridiculous antagonist in Jonathan Pryce’s Eliot Carver, a Rupert Murdoch/Robert Maxwell hybrid trying to kickstart global warfare so that, somehow, he’ll have more dramatic headlines which will sell more papers or get a foothold in the lucrative Chinese market, or something (I stopped paying attention if I’m honest). Everything felt ridiculously overblown yet still not enough felt at stake, either. I mean of course a potential World War III is a lot at stake but I don’t think I bought for a second into Carver’s ability to make that happen, no matter how much Tomorrow Never Dies tried to present him as a Blofield-level supervillain. Perhaps they should’ve focussed more on Ricky Jay, whose Henry Gupta was a more interesting antagonist. Teri Hatcher’s attributes as a Bond Girl are obvious but she was all too brief, however Michelle Yeoh was a fantastic choice of Bond Girl, very sexy without overtly trying to be so, and she proved a capable sidekick for James too; all very Lara Croft. And once again, I thought Brosnan himself was okay, despite his Mr. Whippy hairstyle; this film has 99 problems, but James Bond ain’t one. But ultimately, some bizarre comment on the power wielded by our media moguls is simply not a satisfying issue for the attentions of Commander Bond of MI6, certainly not when it’s handled as poorly as this.

Oh, and how about that detonation countdown at the end while Bond and “Cardboard Cut-Out Blonde German Stereotype Henchman #561” Stamper are fighting? “T MINUS 40 SECONDS” (seventy seconds later) “T MINUS 20 SECONDS” (twenty seconds later) “T MINUS 10 SECONDS” - sh*tting crikey!

(Phil H) #577

I seem to remember liking Tomorrow Never Dies quite a lot actually. Michelle Yeoh certainly played a big part in that but the whole media mogul baddie idea appealed to my Murdoch hating sensibilities too. I’ll have to revisit again soon and see how I feel now. But that’ll have to wait for a bit because for some insane reason I agreed to take part in an exercise whereby I have to watch a different spaghetti western every day for a bloody month!! I’m easily led, that’s my problem.

(Asa) #578

The World is Not Enough (Apted, 1999)*

Right, three-quarters of the way through the Brosnan age and I’m calling it:

Pierce Brosnan is not a bad Bond.

This third Brosnan film - not as good as GoldenEye by any measure, not as bad as Tomorrow Never Dies either - has convinced me that if there were problems with the Brosnan age (and there were), it’s not the man himself. It might be his hair, but it’s not him. In fact, I don’t think there’s been a genuinely bad actor in the Bond role (obviously I haven’t seen the Daniel Craig pics yet), but I digress. What about The World is Not Enough?

Well, the opening speedboat chase down the Thames to the Millennium Dome was kind-of the story of TWiNE in microcosm: Spectacular here and there but patently ridiculous and, too often, just daft. Did Q say that that was his retirement fishing boat? Didn’t it have homing missiles on it? What was he fishing for? How much in public funds was he diverting to make a retirement fishing boat complete with homing missiles? Sounds like a job for James Bond…

The plot? Blah blah pipelines, blah blah murdered billionaire, blah blah don’t make this personal, Bond, blah blah sexy girl turning Jimmy B over, blah blah implausible bad guy. Blah. I know the Bond franchise needs to retain some staples and TWiNE manages to keep things reassuringly familiar, but… ah, it’s becoming tiring now. What was all that hoo-hah about the bullet in Robert Carlyle’s head? It’ll eventually kill him but, meanwhile, it’s making him stronger and stronger by removing his senses as it goes? Wha? Is this a Marvel film, now? Not that I mind an improbable happenstance which turns an individual into a superhuman instead of killing them stone dead as one would imagine, but are we in The Incredible Hulk territory now, or what? I like Robert Carlyle but I think he’d have made a decent foil for Bond without the bullet thing. Less can be said though for Goldie. I think Goldie is a uniquely gifted musician and artist, I really do. But he’s not an actor, bless him.

The shame of it though is that I thought The World is Not Enough had quite a few things going for it: A greater dollop of plot for Judi Dench’s M has been overdue since she took the role, the Bond Girls were in fine form - Sophie Marceau was gorgeous and Denise Richards was still sexy even though a) her character was of that deeply irritating Scrappy-Doo spunky sidekick-with-attitude variety, and b) the poor cow couldn’t give a convincing performance if her vacuous life depended on it, Brosnan remained effective and even likeable throughout yet another rather doughy script, John Cleese’s turn as Q’s eventual replacement wasn’t nearly as distracting as I feared it might be and was actually rather warm (sad to note that this was Desmond Llewelyn’s final appearance as Q before his death in a car crash), and I even found myself giving a toss when Robbie Coltrane’s Zukovsky met his end. Oh, and I really liked Bond’s x-ray specs. Sod the gadgetry, they just looked cool.

Still, the bottom line though is that story is king, and this story veered too often from silly to boring. For the most part I didn’t care about what was happening, or to whom. And too many silly bits felt shoehorned in, like the hologram of Renard’s head to explain to us dumb viewers how the bullet in his brain was affecting him, or Bond’s outdated little tête-à-tête with Dr. Warmflash (!), or indeed Denise Richards’ entire character, as sexy as she was. This wasn’t the most f*ckawful Bond I’d ever seen, but it was maybe the most “meh”, and in some ways that’s even worse.

Oh, and the theme tune, by Garbage: Too easy to say “It was ‘Garbage’”, ha-bloody-ha, but… well, it was. I’d never rated Garbage even back when I couldn’t switch on the f*cking radio without having them blaring out at me. They did one half-decent track as far as I can recall but I can’t remember which one that was, but it certainly wasn’t The World is Not Enough.

*I mentioned previously that I was going to tackle the Brosnans in two double-bill hits, but I watched The World is Not Enough very late at night and I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open for Die Another Day. I guess I’ll have to “try another day”. Ahahahaa. Ahahaa. Aha. Ha. Hm. I’m sorry.

(Asa) #579

Die Another Day (Tamahori, 2002)*

Well! This is how the Brosnan ends and, to paraphrase TS Eliot even further: Not with a bang, but a BANG! MASSIVE UNREALISTIC BAAAAAANG!!!

Has a movie ever been made before in which every single line of dialogue is a smug, pithy comeback? It has now! And the gadgets - shtting crikey! Every scenario contained a gadget to put Bond in the sht, a gadget to be misappropriated/pressed into service as something else, and a gadget to get Bond out of whatever sht the first gadget had put him in to begin with. This Bond movie didn’t require James Bond. Anyone from Batman to Mr. Bean would’ve done, since every single event was created by a macguffin and resolved by a deux ex machina. Sillier and sillier it got (I’m talking about the gadgets and the lines of dialogue now, for clarity). Pop-up machine-guns and rockets and anti-rocket rockets and ejector seats are now pretty much standard on all cars in the James Bondiverse, it seems, so what next? Ah - the invisicar! The Aston Martin Van-ish. Brilliant! See what they did there? A guy who’s face refuses to reject the foreign bodies lightly embedded in them? Okay! A smarmy-arse Korean who’s now an even smarmier-arse English dude? If you say so! A satellite with a fcking big sun-gun on it, ploughing through the Korean DMZ without so much as a “Boom shanka!” from fcking ANYONE?!? Oh, why not? By the time Jimmy B had reconstituted a land speed vehicle into a parasurfing kit in order to beach-boy his way out of certain death by ice block/sun-laser combo, I’d long stopped finding it all a bloody great distraction. Screaming “Turn them off or I’ll only be half the woman I used to be!” when tied down and in real mortal danger of being sliced to pieces by wildly gyrating and out-of-control lasers (what is it with fcking lasers in this film??) doesn’t only sound unreal, it sounds absolutely ludicrous, except that in the world of Die Another Day, it just seems… typical.

And that’s the thing. Die Another Day took a swan-dive off of reality more than any other Bond film, which of course is saying something. More outlandish even than the fckawful Moonraker. The real stunts which always give the Bond films a measure of integrity no matter how one feels about them, have largely been binned for cgi hocus-pocus. It’s as though the Bond creators had all been given computers for the first time ever, and they’d all gone mental. The scriptwriter appeared to have been shanghaied from his previous position as the Gold Blend ad writer, so strong was the cheese in each and every verbal exchange. M’s character veered wildly from “Bursting-with-pride mother” to “Bond’s personal nemesis” randomly and with nary a glance at any reasoning behind why. John Cleese’s credentials as a comedy actor are beyond reproach but here, replacing the late Desmond Llewelyn, the obligatory Q scene was jarring, out of place (perhaps to my mind this new quartermaster hadn’t earned the stripes to be lipping Commander Bond in the way the previous Q did? I dunno). Madonna’s shoehorned cameo was more shameless than all of BMW’s product placement throughout the previous half-dozen or so movies. Almost everything in this movie that wasn’t deeply improbable, was deeply unlikeable. But Die Another Day pushed the incredulity so far, it stopped mattering. And, as a result, some universal law of physics snapped somewhere, and Die Another Day ceased being as fcking hateful as it really should’ve been by all previously-held tenets. I mean, it was still rubbish, of course. How could it not be? But I’m afraid it’s like this: I found Die Another Day - one of the most ridiculous films I’ve ever seen - to be preferable to Moonraker, Never Say Never Again AND Tomorrow Never Dies. In fact, I could see myself watching it again some dreary Sunday, when the drugs haven’t quite flushed out yet and I’m all out of pornography.

Bond girls? I’ve always found Rosamund Pike to be overrated but here she’s about as sexy as she’s ever been IMO. Halle Berry is NOT overrated, she’s bloody gorgeous, but here with her strangely tall hair (in some scenes but not in others), she vaguely resembled Prince. Whether that complication would stop me pouncing on her however is a matter for me, my mini.caress and my w@nking hand. Henchmen? Well, I didn’t buy into the silly diamonds in his face but, other than that, I quite liked Zao. Villain? Gustav Graves/Tan-sun Moon (“Tan Sun”? Really? Wanting to kill everyone with that Icarus device? Good grief) was quite astonishingly unlikeable but I think he was supposed to be a massive twatarse so, I dunno. Theme tune - nah, didn’t like it when it was in the charts and I don’t like it now in the context of it being a Bond tune. That cut-fade making Madonna sound like Norman Collier (“Guess… die… anoth… day”) is just upsetting. I could feel the red mists descending, and that never ends well.

So, in summary: Die Another Day - a movie so silly it actually managed to punch its way through “Utterly Ridiculous” clear into “Well, why the f*ck not?”.Oh, and having now seen all the Brosnan’s, I stand by my assertion that for all the problems with those films, Pierce wasn’t one of them. The weakness of his movies means I’ll never hold him in the same esteem as Messrs. Connery or Lazenby, but he wasn’t a bad Bond in himself. IMHO.

I’m overdue a good’un, now. I’ve earned one. Fortunately, I’m led to understand that I’m about to get one. I bloody hope so.

*Wiki tells me that, this being the 40th anniversary Bond pic, there were references to the nineteen (official) previous Bond movies hidden throughout Die Another Day. I caught a couple of the more obvious ones (Rosa Klebb’s shoe for instance) but I couldn’t be arsed to search for all of them. Have any of you watched Die Another Day avidly enough to have spotted them all?

(ENNIOO) #580

Went to see Roger Moore an audience with in Manchester the other night. Down to earth guy who still has a great sense of humour and some great stories to tell.