Ok. So everyone has their opinions about what a Bond movie should be. Pulpy, Action(y), Sexy, Flashy, Techy, Kitschy, whatever. That’s the great thing about the Bond franchise. Everyone can find a piece to savor, and the overall meal is for the most part nourishing.
I went into Quantum of Solace knowing that the franchise was heading far away from the Goldfingerin’, Thunderballin’, Moonrakin’ juice to a more consumer friendly, hyperrealistic Bourne-like espionage/action hybrid, and well, I don’t blame them really. I went to the theater at 12:30 PM on Friday and the place was packed. The night shows were all pre-sold out. That means the franchise will live on . . . and I will probably be there everytime. . . and everyone is getting paid.
But we all have opinions, right. We all want to play director (at least I do). I have come to expect certain things out of Bond film, and while Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace both get a thumbs up from me as grade-A action movies, there is still tons missing that always, well, made Bond Bond. I would have done it differently. The whole relaunch.
PULP: No matter how you turn this one, the pulp in Bond films is dead. . . and it’s sad.
Now as fate would have it, I spent the previous night falling asleep to The House That Dripped Blood, a handful of vignettes that sort of got me all in a tizzy over the great depictions of British eccentricities. (I was primed months back by a Christopher Hitchens’ article in Vanity Fair.)
I mean these are real people, and they have always been an exclamation point to the Bond Franchise. I just want a touch of it for the surrounding cast. There is no reason that M can’t be surrounded by a taxidermy menagerie, or that Mr. Green (played by Mathieu Almiric, who was fine, but is already forgotten) couldn’t have an obviously encumbering marijuana addiction and a hulking cyborg bodyguard fused to a wheelchair (the closest we got was some wild-eyed sidekick who managed to work a neckbrace into his wardrobe). Hell, it’s easy enough to make Mr. White be an albino who always wears clothes with strawberries on them and has a coke problem that he shares with his pet snake. There is no sense of imagination bring tapped there. Nothing to harken back to Blofeld, Goldfinger—hell, I know it was crazy, but I loved Drax.
In Casino Royale, I did like Le Chiffre and his bleeding eye (though I admit I would have been happier if it spouted blood all day, or maybe only in a bluff) but at least it was something. To highlight some minor flavor, Jeffrey Wright’s disgruntled CIA operative role should be spun-off for its own franchise.
I think I just lost half my budget.
ACTION: Well, no complaints there. The action gets better and better. Though I’m no fan of the fast-cutting, frenetic-action approach, these scenes were pretty damn visceral . . . not too dizzying. Craig’s nimble Bond makes him one of the best. This is the one thing that has gotten infinitely better, and Craig’s Bond is more of a daredevil than anyone. His veins run cold even when free falling. He never lacks control or the façade thereof. Bond should always be that way. I‘d keep him that way.
Ok, they’re still letting me run this. Everyone wants to be Bond after an action scene. The kids will love it. The men will make muscles after it. The ladies will wonder why. Everyone will feel good.
SEX: Seriously lacking from QOS: More lovely ladies. I’m not trying to be sexist here, but as a kid, I always knew that watching a Bond film would give me some sneak peeks at the world’s most beautiful women: Honor Blackman, Jacqueline Bisset, Britt Ekland, Famke Janssen . . . and they were always presented in amazingly sexy ways.
And each Bond movie would have at least three. Here we got two (unless you count the scene where Gianni Giancarlo’s aging lady friend prances a bit in a one piece bathing suit). I mean both Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton (if you listen closely you’ll know her name is Strawberry Fields, the only attempt to throwback to pulpy Bond nomenclature) are gorgeous, but never once amp up any sex appeal. And to be balanced, ladies probably would have liked a little more skin from Daniel Craig (at least that’s what the lady who went with me added to my exit critique). I would’ve turned that up a bit. Perhaps even thrown in some sort of bikini-clad commune of waifs at the Bolivian hotel, basking in the desert sun. Something. I’ve just gotten used to it.
Just got some more budget $$$. But censored to keep it PG-13. I can get creative.
FLASH: Well, QOS started out fine, with an amazing car chase in an Aston Martin, but then how the hell did Ford work its way into the mix? I think Camille picked up Bond in some sort of Ford smart car. At least the settings remain high end and Bond refused to stay in a rat-infested motel in Bolivia. That’s Bond. Nothing but the best.
Product placement for ailing, wailing billionaires who won’t ever see this. Smacked in the face. More cuts.
TECH: Sad to say that the present has caught up to Bond science. Not one gadget or technology that shocked and awed (but that has been missing for some time). Seeing as this is coming from an SF blog site, would it hurt to have just an ounce of speculative thought on the tech? I mean I just saw something on the status of large scale iPhone/ Touch technology, and that was about the extent of where they went. Need something there, Brocolli. I would look at least 10 years into the future for all tech. This is espionage, let’s have some fun. When Bond tech is already on the evening news someone needs to be replaced.
KITSCH: This too has vanished completely from the franchise. A lot of people love this new hyper-realistic approach (contrary to the tone, I really don’t mind it myself, it’s just not what I really want to see, and this is my movie now) but there can be some things peppered in to spice it up. Throughout the film, the director, Marc Foster (dig this: Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland) tried to add some local color. A shot or two of some obviously unknowing locals and some cutaways that point to the world still turning as Bond gets into it with some new opponent (and a bit too kinetic and overdone at that). And the megatwist (spoiler alert!) of a Bechtel-like siege on Bolivia’s water supply was accented by some locals watching the well literally go dry. . . This new subtlety is nice for something like Traffic or Babel, but I want my Bond films to have no subtlety. I want the hand wringing of evil in my face. I want to see people on the verge of dying from dehydration. I want Bond to save them.
I think I was just fired, and not even Uwe Boll will return my calls.
Oh well, it was fun for a minute. This Forster guy, he’s making millions and I’m back to editing and acquiring novels. Ah well. It’s nice work if you can get it.