Bond, Angst Bond.

Okay I was going to go see Quantum of Solace last night, but I was stopped by my roommate, who had just returned from the film and was pretty much saying that if I went he would lose all respect for me. I’m not a die hard Bond fan, but he is, and the disappointment was nothing short of glorious.

I obviously won’t be talking about Quantum of Solace, but I’ll be taking stabs at Casino Royale, the last Bond film that I saw. Bond films are steeped in tradition. They’ve kind of defined their own genre, where any criticism of a Bond film needs to be compared to other Bond films, and not other spy movies in general. After Die Another Day, I think the whole world was agreeing that James Bond was in need of a re-imagining. I’m not so sure anymore.

Let me make it clear that none of my criticism are with Daniel Craig. He’s not a bad Bond… and there’s nobody I can think of that I would prefer in the role.

Casino Royale promised a newer, darker Bond. I was excited. My problem with Casino Royale was that it wasn’t new enough for me. For every scene where Bond strangled somebody brutally, there was another where he chased a parkour-ing “bomb maker” who looks suspiciously like one of the dudes who promotes parkour. Just when you think they’re going to give you character depth in a Bond movie, they go and sink a building in Venice. I didn’t completely hate Casino Royale, but I wish it had the balls to do a new bond, or stick with the old formula, not blend the two. 

The angsty and troubled Bond does not belong with the completely extravagant action sequences that the Bond films are known for. It’s silly. It’s like having a Scorsese film turn into the Transporter, and then back again. 

I’m convinced that without the Bond traditions of the various lines, gadgets, girls, and villains… you’re not left with much to work with. Casino Royale had some fun with subverting the Bond traditions, but it missed out on having a Bond villain, which is absolutely key. Le Chiffre looked like a Bond villain, had a weird gimmick like a Bond villain, played cards like a Bond villain, but completely didn’t act like a Bond villain. In fact, he got offed by other bad guys. This is fine in a serious film about the nature of evil in modern times, but the dude cried fucking blood! Once again, they can’t decide between the Bond traditions of the last 20 or so films and the newer, serious Bond film elements. I don’t prefer one over the other, I just wish they’d make a choice.

The early reviews on Quantum of Solace are mixed, with the obvious exception of my enraged and disillusioned roommate. I think as these new Bond films continue, critics are going to start to see that once you strip away the Bond dialogue and recurring elements, there isn’t much going on that other films don’t do. I said earlier that criticism of a Bond film needs to be in the realm of Bond films, but if this Bond film is dropping or rethinking all the classic Bond elements, I think that removes the excuse of “oh well it’s a fun other the top Bond movie”.

If these movies are meant to be taken seriously, which is what they’re going for, they can’t have the completely outrageous action sequences… and they’re going to be criticized like any other movie, without letting them off the hook for things like the sinking of the ice hotel with a sunbeam from a satellite.


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November 2008
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