I really want to enjoy these movies. And in several cases, I can enjoy myself. Virtually all of the Sean Connery films are great just for his presence alone. So I’m going to mention what irritates me about all the other 007 flicks with other actors playing James Bond.
I really wish they had someone besides him doing those movies, because I never really bought into him being a good fit for the James Bond role. His aura are as off as his looks (he always looked too old for the role, even compared to Daniel Craig). The only one I liked that he is in is The Spy Who Loved Me, and that’s it. Everything else he is in suffered from implausible escape attempts, too many deus ex machina Bond gadgets… I know, that’s almost like bitching about a restaurant for having too much food. But it still irks me damnit! Especially in the Pierce Brosnan movies (more on those later). Moore never did it for me as Bonde, and having all that bullshit piled on top of it didn’t help things much.
There was one Moore film, Live and Let Die, where his deus ex machina gadgets actually failed him at least once. He’s on a small piece of land, surrounded by alligators. The villains leave assuming the gators will finish him off, of course, which allows him to come up with an escape plan. So he used his wrist watch to harpoon a boat nearby, pull it towards him, and row to safety (the typical oh so convenient routine). The same shit you’ve seen at least a dozen times in these films up to this point. But then, to my shock, they subvert my expectations and have the line snap, making him unable to get the rowboat anywhere close to him. I got interested at this point, as the film seemed to be trying something new. The gators start getting closer to him. How does he get out of this situation? By running quickly over the tops of the gators without any of them snapping at him and killing him, allowing him to run to safety literally by running on top of them. I lost my fucking mind, realizing no fucks were given at that point.
Honestly, I would’ve thought his films would be the most cartoony and ridiculous out of all of them, with Moonraker, and the way he deals with the final baddy in Live and Let Die (though don’t get me wrong, I was highly entertained by that over-the-top death sequence). Apparently, I was wrong, and that is not something I should be wrong on, because the cartoonish nature of the more films is not something that the franchise should be going back to, let alone topping (more on that later).
But in all fairness, aside from TSWLM, The Man with the Golden Gun wasn’t too bad either (not as good, but at least a cut above all the other 007 flicks he starred in).
Goldeneye. That 1995 film where Pierce Brosnan made his James Bond role debut. This had a solid budget to allow for great action sequences (arguably more impressive than the last Timothy Dalton film License to Kill, and that’s saying a lot). Plus the concept of one 00 agent facing off against another is so genius, you wonder why they hadn’t tried it prior to this film. Sean Bean played his villainous role to perfection. Xenia is a memorable co-villain. It had a solid enough plot regarding a satellite EMP weapon. Best of all, this film is borderline masterful with its pacing and gritty atmosphere. It has a serious tone to it that made me want to take it seriously (which Timothy Dalton, who really deserved more outings as Bond, including for this film, helped bring back to this franchise just prior to this film). Plus the title sequence and accompanying song are very solid. It had all the elements to be the best James Bond film yet, possibly even surpassing Sean Connery’s best outtings.
Unfortunately, it has those elements that are in direct conflict with the serious gritty tone. The implausible escape sequences, the ridiculous aspects of getting one over on the villains, how it becomes so cartoonish when you think about it. I was willing to suspend disbelief when he caught up to the free-falling airplane and start it up and fly away (it was borderline cringe, but I was willing to bear it given what else I got up to that point). I was willing to go along with Natalya surviving the Goldeneye attack at the base, along with the thorough executions that happened there prior to the EMP blast (again, I had to grit my teeth with it, but was willing to go along with it). But then the film made me lose hope once Bond and Natalya escaped from that helicopter. Why did they have to make the villains out to be that fucking incompetent to allow for Bond to escape out of that situation? I mean, at that point, you have to be prepared for things to get worse than that from there. And they do.
All those fucking escape attempts and bad guy blunderings just pissed me off. They ruined the fucking movie for me. A movie that was shaping up to be one of the best action films ever made. And they fucked it up with cheap get out of jail free cards and dumbing down the opponents. Stuff like that makes me root for the villains, so of course I’m going to become angry when the protagonists overcome them.
This was a trend that irritated me in pretty much every Pierce Brosnan 007 film that came after this one, though at least they didn’t have such a serious tone to them, which made these deus ex machina moments more expected, and less in conflict with the film’s overall tone. I know it’s been a trend to have this ever since From Russia with Love, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I dislike this trope when a film is so reliant on it. This film may not be as reliant on that trope as the Roger Moore films were (though in all fairness, Sean Connery had a decent share of those as well, but not to the point where I thought they ever ruined the film), but it substituted it for incompetent villains.
Oh, right, one other thing. Fuck the new M in this movie. Up her old wrinkly ass. She may have gotten more tolerable in the later films (at least up until Skyfall), but this famous quote of hers wasn’t exactly winning me over to her:
I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you.
Bitch, we want our James Bond to be a sexist misogynist, and be damn proud of it. We want that about as much as we want a smokin’ hot Bond girl to be violated by him and enjoy it like Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. Though on that note, we all know that the first Bond girl from Dr. No, Honey Ryder, will never be topped.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
I know this is a favorite among certain Bond aficionados. Because the actor playing Bond in this film, George Lazenby, is considered to be the most faithful to the novels in his depiction. And to this film’s credit, it did that tragic ending twist prior to Casino Royale (and it was more shocking here too). But other than that shocking moment, this film didn’t have anything going for it as far as I’m concerned (especially when considering, in hindsight, the comical manner in which Moore took care of the villain from this movie in the sequel). The action sequences are terrible because of how they’re edited. And the whole film was just dull to me, especially with its pacing. This is probably the most boring out of all the Bond films in my personal opinion. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s the worst. The worst Bond film to this point is probably Quantum of Solace (though Die Another Day gives it a run for its money). And I’d sooner give this film another chance than watch either of those two again.
Skyfall. The most overrated Bond film ever made. Look, I enjoyed Daniel Craig’s outing in Casino Royale. Like, a lot. Casino Royale is a really great James Bond film, that raised my expectations for future entries Craig would be involved with. Unfortunately, Quantum of Solace smashed those expectations to smithereens, becoming one of, if not the, worst Bond film ever created. So of course there was nowhere to go from there but up (though I have a feeling No Time To Die, whenever that gets released, is going to lower the bar further than that, making the Roger Moore flicks look like goddamn masterpieces by comparison). Of course Skyfall was going to be better than that. It’s just that so many regarded it as, quite possibly, the best Bond film ever made.
Fu– No, I gotta restrain my anger regarding the opinions of those who may have reasons for enjoying this film either in spite of the problems I have with it, or possible because of the problems I have with it (thus enjoying it ironically).
Fuck this movie for glorifying M. They fucking give this old raggedy-ass bitch the courtesy of a character send-off that this entire fucking film is built around. Where the fuck was the previous M’s sendoff? Why the fuck should anyone in this franchise get a sendoff (at least Q’s was more discreet by comparison)? Let’s face it, the only reason she’s getting a sendoff is because she’s a major recurring female character in this franchise, who is in a position of (high ranking) authority. She isn’t worthy of this, and that the film believes she should be is insulting. The entire 007 franchise has always just replaced actors and actresses frequently and non-chalantly enough to where it was just the norm to expect someone new every now and again (including James Bond himself). The fact that they make such a big deal out of this raises eyebrows as to why each new 007 agent is called James Bond.
This is an attempt to get the viewer to take this franchise very seriously. This is a franchise that never should be taken that seriously. They completely fucked up the first earnest attempt with Goldeneye, but at least there wasn’t anything too malicious about it. This is just forcing the matter. And so many people bought into this bullshit to the point where they’re willing to overlook a shitload of flaws this film has beyond just M herself. I mean, for fuck’s sake, that 007 survived that fall (let alone that they thought it would be a good idea to risk taking Bond out rather than just risk having Bond continue fighting the target; seems like Bond is losing some of his role of significance in the spy industry, let alone the franchise). That a hacker out for revenge can do this much damage to MI6. MI6 is a joke now, as is this franchise. It could be taken more seriously in the 60s-90s when its tongue was firmly planted in its cheek.
Yep, SPECTRE. The criminal organization Bond has been faced off against ever since his first film (though there are plenty of films where SPECTRE is absent). Then they bring this organization back in the self-titled film, in spite of hints at its existence in Quantum of Solace. Well apparently that film is completely useless, because SPECTRE wasn’t directly involved with that. This stupid film does all this bullshit about “being behind everything from the beginning” because of this dumb brother plot. I mean, this is silly and contrived even for a Bond flick.
Honestly though, the thing that pissed me off the most about this film, aside from the usual bullshit of Bond overcoming obstacles too easily during the last act, is that this brought back Blofeld. I mean, really? This franchise is rebooting itself now because it’s really out of that many ideas? You start remaking the villain from Diamonds are Forever in a rather pathetic showing?
Seriously, there’s gotta be more topical plots Bond can get involved with. Such as going back to the Middle East like he did in The Living Daylights (even though I thought that was the worst part of that movie). Or doing more espionage with Russia. Or China (yeah, that’ll be the day; Hollywood doesn’t have the balls to do that). Or Israel (again, it would take balls to make Israel the villain, even if it’s just a small radical subsection of Zionist fanatics who stand in contrast with the majority of that country). But nah, they’re more likely to bring in Nazi’s some how some way.
How about new forms of global threats? Like sound wave weapons some people on ships and/or military bases claim made them nauseated and get migraines? Or biological weapons intended to wipe out a large percentage of humanity to “save the Earth” (discounting that plot of infertility in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)? Or a local government setting up a red flag operation within its own country in order to make everyone subservient to a shadow organization such as SPECTRE? The potential for topical modern 007 plots is there. They just don’t have the balls to use it because it hits too close to home for those pulling Hollywood’s strings. Because of that, this franchise should drop dead, or at least go into a state of hibernation until film studios with balls show up against to take the reigns.