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Thunderball and GoldenEye

It wasn’t my idea to be here. I don’t belong here. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m gonna get eaten alive. But Tom Zielinski and Paul Baack thought it would be funny to get me – a Bond-ignorant action movie fan who once called 007 “a fucking baby” — to review Thunderball and GoldenEye. So here goes nothing.

First, the backstory. My disparaging comments about Mr. Bond came in the form of a review for Die Hard 2. In the review I called Bruce Willis’s character John McClane “the working man’s James Bond” and compared and contrasted him to 007. My argument was that Bond was a spoiled rich boy among action heroes. Bond gets an Astin Martin that shoots missiles, McClane has to borrow his mother-in-law’s beater, and it gets impounded. That kind of thing. Tom and Paul had written me a lot of nice emails, and I felt bad that I had been so harsh to their favorite fictional character. So when I was putting together a collection of my reviews, I thought it would be a nice addition to the book if they would write a rebuttal to the review. They graciously did me that favor, which brings us to today, when I owe them one.

ThunderballI don’t know if it’s payback for my big mouth, or if they’re trying to convert me, but I welcome the incentive to learn a little more about Mr. Bond. I have to admit I am most familiar with the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies, and I wouldn’t say I was a fan. Watching Thunderball though, I was about 4 minutes in when I realized it was already better than all the Pierce Brosnans combined. In the opening scene, Bond is at a funeral for some SPECTRE bastard he was gonna kill. Now I don’t want to be judgmental, but in my opinion it is pretty god damn rude to show up at the funeral of some motherfucker you were planning to kill. I mean come on people, you just don’t do that. Call me old fashioned, call me a square, but that’s one rule I try to follow. The only exception is if once the person was dead you realized it was wrong to want to kill them, and maybe you were going to go make amends with this person when you found out they were dead. That is not the case for Bond. So I’m not inclined to let him off the hook. But luckily this point of etiquette becomes moot when he discovers that the funeral is a fraud and that the not-really-dead villain is in drag, disguised as a grieving widow.

(I guess that brings up another important funeral related rule: if you’re faking your own death, don’t show up at the fuckin funeral. I know it’s tempting, you’re curious how hard people are gonna cry and all that. But it’s not worth the risk. Your fake death isn’t even in the obituaries yet and you’re already about to blow it.)

Anyway that’s when we get an excellent fistfight between Bond and a man in a funeral dress and veil. Let me take a moment to honor this lost tradition of cinematic fighting, where two opponents square off in an enclosed space, punching each other, throwing each other into furniture and breaking things over each other’s heads. You don’t see this type of fighting in movies much anymore – now days everything’s guns, kung fu, and guns. Bond ends up tossing the guy in the fireplace and throwing flowers on him. Not as fancy as the fake funeral, but it will have to do.

Next thing you know Bond runs outside and magically produces a helmet and jetpack (big pockets, I guess) which he uses to fly about two blocks away to his getaway car. This is what I’m talking about, John McClane would’ve just ran the two blocks. It’s not that hard, Bond. He’s one of these guys who instead of walking four blocks to the store to pick up some ice cream, he drives. In fact, I bet the Segway was invented for Bond, so he wouldn’t have to walk from one end of the room to the other. His has a built in rocket launcher, but he never uses it.

The traditional theme song over silhouetted sexiness is sung by Tom Jones, who does a real good job acting like we should know what the hell “Thunderball” means. One thing about the James Bond movies, no matter how good or bad they are, they always got sexy opening credits. And these movies are all about sexiness. I’m sure you guys have noticed this before, but man James Bond is a sleazeball. I don’t know what his mama taught him but for such a smooth dude he sure doesn’t know how to treat the ladies. Case in point, his co-worker Moneypenny. Now, if you’re working in an office or secret agency type situation, it is best not to call the women “honey” or “sweetie” or “sugar” or “toots” or “honeypie” or etc. That is condescending and degrading, especially in a place like this where a woman who has worked as hard as Moneypenny to get where she is deserves to be treated as a professional. When Bond tells her “Next time I see you, I’ll put you across my knee,” I feel that that is unprofessional. He doesn’t just pull this on his co-workers though. What’s with the scene where he forces a kiss on that poor nurse? Fortunately, the Bond movies take place in a universe where every woman secretly wants to screw James Bond, and they just pretend they don’t like his advances. But the rest of us guys don’t have that luxury.

So yeah, the nurse wants him, but does that justify him walking out after sex and quipping, “See you later… irrigator”? I think I know what that means and if so, not that classy. There are times when Bond movies seem like porn movies with the good parts cut out. I mean don’t get me wrong. They would be really topnotch porn movies. I’m just saying, there’s a lot of scenes leading up to Bond getting laid.

And plus, what about this scene where Bond gets attacked in the spa? I swear, he’s attached to some kind of Fucking Machine. Like the British version of Barbarella’s Orgasmatron. He almost humps himself to death. An appropriate end for such a horndog I guess. But he escapes.

Then next thing you know he’s in a boat with another gorgeous lady, Paula. I’m thinking, how many hoes does this motherfucker have in his stable, anyway? He really gets around. One thing I noticed when I went to rent these movies, there is a cartoon they got called James Bond, Jr. which is apparently about James Bond’s son. You know, the one son that he had. Well let me tell you, I don’t buy that. James Bond Jr. proves that the equipment works, the pipes are not tied, the seed is potent. So I happen to believe there are a whole fuckin lot of James Bond juniors running around out there, disrespecting women in a number of exotic locales. The way this guy pokes around in 2 or 3 gals per movie, there’s no telling how many dashing half-British crumb crushers there could be out there. I’m betting he rivals Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in the illegitimate children Olympics.

I mean I gotta tell ya, if I was Blofeld or somebody, I wouldn’t worry too much about 007. Because I’d figure eventually he’s gonna slip up. That fucker is a fiend for the honeypot and he’s pretty god damn lucky to have gotten as far as he has without somebody slitting his throat while he’s got his guard down, getting a sensual massage or a blowjob on the beach or something. I mean that dude will fuck anything with two legs and a hole. (In fact, I haven’t seen all the movies, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes for a gal with one leg and a hole, plus some kind of artificial leg made out of gold with built in weapons.) It just so happens that he runs in circles where everybody like that is a gorgeous knockout bombshell type. But I think if he had to spend a night in a town with no Bond girls, he’d still find somebody or something to stick his dick in. In my opinion. Pardon my French.

Anyway, as you can tell I am a gentleman, so I’ll stay out of Bond’s personal life for now. As far as the secret agenting goes, Thunderball has a lot to offer. For me the highlight (other than the funeral scene) is the huge underwater battle. Obviously they spend a lot of screentime on it because something like that had never been done in a movie before. But it holds up well by modern cinematical standards. For me, a cleverly planned scene like this is much more exciting than all the big loud jet/tank/car chase type action in the newer Bond pictures.

One thing I think is funny in this movie is the sharks. These guys actually have a shark pool! At one point when they’re trying to find Bond, one guy is commanded to “search the shark pool.” Man, fuck that. I would quit.

You know, these guys got a pool of sharks that they train to kill people. Then when they’re fighting over a weapon underwater, they get attacked by sharks. And bystander sharks get harpooned in the melee. It’s the endless circle of violence. Man-on-man, shark-on-man, man-on-shark. Why can’t men and sharks just leave each other alone? It’s ridiculous.

I liked during the big underwater fight, they got a shot of a crab walking by in the middle of all the mayhem. It makes you wonder what that crab is thinking. I bet he agrees with me on the pointlessness of the man-shark war. Just leave him be, he’s got nothing to do with this craziness, he’s just minding his own business, trying to get home to his rock.

I’m glad Tom and Paul had me watch Thunderball. On one hand, I thought it was a little long and slow, like all the Bond movies I’ve seen. Which makes me wonder if maybe I’m just not the 007 type. On the other hand, I still liked this movie. I like the more preposterous touches: the rocket-launching motorcycle, the SPECTRE agency with its “Execution Branch,” the evil doppelganger, the guy you know is evil ‘cause he has an eyepatch. (Good guys got harder eyeballs than bad guys, they’re harder to injure, that’s why they never got an eyepatch or a glass eye.) As much as I enjoy gritty and realistic movies, I also like a good shark pool. And you guys would know better than me, but I think Bond works better with shark pools than when they try to fit him into a modern political context.

GoldenEyeI know that because of GoldenEye, the second one Paul and Tom wanted me to watch. If I didn’t know this was the first Brosnan 007 movie, it would be obvious from watching it because they’re trying so hard to explain everything. They are not confident like Bond. They seem overly worried about what people like me will think, so they have characters questioning if James Bond is obsolete after the Cold War, and calling him “a misogynist dinosaur” and that kind of thing. As if to say to the audience, “We know, we know, we’re trying to figure out what to do. Please bear with us.”

Like Thunderball, GoldenEye starts out pretty god damn spectacular. There’s a little prologue where Pierce Brosnan as 007 and Sean Bean as 006 (whose number means he has seniority, I assume, so we should probably side with him in the dispute later in the movie) sneak in to blow up some kind of evil Soviet missile base.

I mean I guess the infiltration is standard ‘90s action movie, but the part I like is when the whole plan goes south so 007 has to leave 006 for dead and stage a ridiculously over the top escape. Bond tries to hijack a small plane as it’s taking off, but the pilot puts up a fight. They wrestle and both end up falling out of the plane, where the pilot is run over by a pursuing motorcycle. Bond steals the motorcycle and follows the plane as it drives right off a cliff. He jumps off the motorcycle, glides through the air like a flying squirrel and somehow maneuvers himself into the cockpit, where he is able to take control of the plane and avoid what I guess would’ve been an impressive ending to a very short James Bond update.

That escape scene is the highlight of the movie, but it makes for a confident lead in to a beautiful credits sequence where silhouetted sexy ladies dance around on communist statues and occasionally bash them with a hammer or sickle. It’s obviously an updated Bond credits sequence for the digital age but it also reminds me of Ohio Players album covers or Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. The credits are pretty much about everything the movie is about: hot chicks and the fall of communism.

I don’t know if anybody’s ever noticed this before, but a lot of James Bond movies seem to be about dicks and balls and pussies and etc. They got all these double entendres and characters with suggestive names and whatnot. This one is no exception. The best character is Famke Janssen as the Georgian terrorist Xenia Onnatop. Her name both describes a sexual position and the movie’s lame attempt at modernizing the sexual politics. I like that name though. It doesn’t seem very subtle, but consider that they could’ve called her Shawana Fuckyoutodeath. Actually that would’ve been even better but I like Xenia Onnatop still.

Xenia’s whole thing is she fucks guys to death. What she does is get it on with a dude and then crush him between her thighs. (I am happy to report that there are no Thighmaster jokes in the movie.) She also likes to roar like a tiger during sex and makes orgasmic sounds while shooting at people or taking hostages. It’s a pretty demeaning role, playing an almost literal ballbuster who is punished cruelly for wanting women to be Onnatop. But it’s still fun to see the beautiful Janssen playing this type of role, since in so many of her other movies (the X-Mens, City of Industry, Lord of Illusions) she doesn’t get a chance to have fun, she’s too busy moping, brooding or crying. Xenia is a woman who enjoys what she does, and that’s to be admired because a lot of people don’t. Too bad about the Boris and Natasha accent, though.

The character I liked the least was fellow X-Man Alan Cumming as a Russian hacker. If you haven’t seen the movie you got a 50/50 chance of guessing what his name is. If he’s Russian he’s either gotta be Boris or Ivan, and in this case he’s Boris. But in case you still can’t catch that he’s Russian, there’s a part where he calls one of his co-workers (one of the 3 women Bond makes out with in the movie) “Borscht-for-brains.” I haven’t been able to confirm this but I suspect this role was originally written for Yakov Smirnoff. But then they thought it would be funny to cast Alan Cumming as a horny woman chaser so they went for it.

The scene where Q shows some new gadgets to Bond is pretty good. They got so much silly business going on in the background that it feels like an Airplane! or Naked Gun scene. And casting Joe Don Baker as Bond’s American CIA buddy Jack Wade was an inspired touch. Who better to play a CIA agent than Sherriff Buford Pusser (first movie only) himself?

And I should say that Brosnan, to my ignorant eyes, is a good choice for Bond. He’s not macho like Connery, he’s more legitimately suave. At the time I probaly thought he was a cheesy TV star, but in retrospect he’s almost too good for these movies. To me he seems like a guy from another era, like Fred MacMurray mixed with a little bit of Cary Grant. I still got a problem with those bad puns though. Maybe Connery can get away with them but when Brosnan does it he has this cocky smile. ‘Cause he’s James fucking Bond, he can torture everybody with his lame sense of humor and you can’t do nothing about it. Get it? Lip service? I’m not even sure if that counts as a pun, just because there’s kissing and then he says “lip service.” Nobody comes up with puns that painful on accident, he is definitely trying to fuck with us. He’s like an uncle or grandpa or a crazy homeless guy that tells you jokes because he knows they’re bad, and he wants to make you squirm.

Brosnan’s Bond is just as much of a gigolo as Connery’s, and he faces the human counterpart to the deadly Fucking Machine when he fights Xenia in a sauna. She tries to give him the Dry Hump of Doom… or is penetration implied? Like an abstract painting, it is up to the viewer to interpret. Are they fucking, or just fighting? It’s good to see a movie that gives you something to contemplate afterwards.

I think the attempt at a postmodern Bond sort of backfires though. They mention Freud so much that you can’t help but start interpreting the sexual imagery of the movie. The whole thing is about James Bond being afraid of vaginas. It’s true, his biggest challenge is a beautiful woman trying to fuck him to death. And normally I’d be against this type of analysis, but after they mention Freud a couple times you can’t help but notice the scene where a flaming train slides into a tunnel… and explodes! Beware the deadly vagina. James Bond’s greatest love and fiercest enemy.

Also, they seem so worried about the end of the Cold War making James Bond obsolete, but then instead of trying to find new enemies they use Russians again. The Cold War is over, long live the Cold War. It almost makes it seem like an ‘80s movie.

As the movie ends, James Bond is left with only one of his sex partners (I woulda chose Xenia, but he felt differently) and they go off into the sunset saying they will “finish debriefing each other at Guantanamo.” This of course takes on a more sinister meaning ten years later. I couldn’t help but think of some poor sap in Afghanistan, his neighbor fingers him as Taliban for the reward money, he ends up spending three years in camp x-ray without charges, getting electrodes shoved up his butt, etc. And little does he know that foul smell on his cot is ten year old James Bond ass sweat. I guess it’s better than if he did know.

GoldenEye is more exciting than the Pierce Brosnans that followed it, and it has the best ridiculously named female character (sorry, Dr. Christmas Jones, but you do not cut the mustard). But like with so many things in this world, the old ones are better. I think the writers gotta quit trying to figure out where James Bond fits into the world, and start trying to figure out new ways for him to jump into planes or off motorcycles or into shark pools.

Originally published at Her Majesty’s Secret Servant: http://www.hmss.com/films/Vern/

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2007 at 10:47 pm and is filed under Action, Other Sites, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

33 Responses to “Thunderball and GoldenEye”

  1. I agree about Goldeneye. It tries to have it both ways (post modern and retro) and it’s kind of embarrassing how desperate it is. But I guess people were just happy to see Bond again in 1995.

    It is very interesting to read your perspective on these. I’d be interested in your take on the whole series if you’re up for it.

  2. Michael Mayket

    July 4th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Most people seem to agree with you, but I think TOMORROW NEVER DIES is the best of the Brosnan Bonds.. Although like you i don’t think any of them are too hot. I do love the motorcycle chase with him and Michelle Yeoh handcuffed together though.

  3. TND holds up surprisingly well. It’s just a good old adventure and except for a few references to technology and the media of the ’90s, it’s pretty timeless. Kind of fits in anywhere as another James Bond adventure.

    There’s one amazing scene in it though where Yeoh is beating up some guys in her hideout, and in a different part of town Bond is beating up random bad guys, just because he had to have something to do. Always wanted to know the story behind that. Did that actually make sense at one point or was it always white sexist fear?

  4. TND had a very troubled shoot and the script were re-written almost daily, so I guess that’s why there’s a few scenes that don’t make any sense.

  5. But that one in particular feels like they were afraid it would make Bond look bad if he wasnt doing anything while Yeoh was kicking ass, but now it looks worse that he’s just beating up dudes to get even screen time.

  6. Yeah Tomorrow Never Dies isn’t great but it’s my favorite of the Brosnans – it’s one of the few Bonds that are under 2 hours, and it’s packed with tons of decent shootouts and fights. I always thought the Bonds were a reflection of the times (Live and Let Die = Blaxploitation, Moonraker = Sci-fi, The Man with The Golden Gun = Kung Fu) and TND is kind of the Bond version of the 90s Hong Kong explosion (i.e. America starting to get Jackie Chan and John Woo, etc…) – I think this is the only Bond where he double-wields two guns, for instance.

    As for Thunderball, I might be crazy but I found it deadly dull and enjoyed Never Say Never Again better. And I’m sure I’ve ranted this somewhere before re: Goldeneye – the movie lost me as soon as Bond started gunning down innocent Russian soldiers. They weren’t bad guys (in fact one of the real bad guys just shot their leader) and it wasn’t wartime, these were basically guards in an office building. But the movie needed an action sequence, so too bad for them. I actually thought that movie had a ton of juvenile mean-spiritedness running throughout the whole thing.

  7. GoldenEye basically saved the Bond franchise by re-introducing people to the “old” 007, after John Glen almost killed the series with his unimaginative and flat direction in the 80’s. It may seem mean-spirited, but if you look closer Bond doesn’t really kill that many people. And it has one of the coolest female Bond villains ever.

  8. Michael Mayket

    July 5th, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    As I said I don’t think any of the Brosnan’s are particularly good, but what I did enjoy about them is that Brosnan would make all the terrible puns and double-entendres, as Vern rightfully mocks, with a smirk… But as soon at the action began he became emotionless and hard. His face became blank until the killing stopped. I always appreciated that.

    I’m watching Goldeneye right now off Encore HD OnDemand. I haven’t seen it in probably a decade.

  9. Michael Mayket

    July 5th, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    The tank chase is pretty awesome. It’s been 17 years. It’s time for another tank chase in a big budget action movie.

  10. Michael, I have a suspicion that it was Martin Campbell who taught Brosnan to act like that, since Craig acted in much the same way in Campbell’s other Bond movie, Casino Royale. The difference being that Pierce dropped it and became Remington Steele again after one movie, while Craig kept it up.

  11. Sorry Vern, GoldenEye whips Thunderball and every other Bond’s ass. It may not even be hyperbole that the tank sequence alone whips all other Bond ass. The villains are crazier, Sean Ban’s rising exasperation level… Thunderball has its moments, but it also has extended dull parts which GoldenEye can’t be accused of. My first Bond may have been a Roger Moore and Sean Connery kicks ass, but GoldenEye is the stuff. Was gonna go for an exploding balls analogy but thought better of it.

  12. caruso_stalker217

    October 21st, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I just revisited GOLDENEYE today. That fight scene between Brosnan and Bean at the end is pretty fuckin’ badass.

    Alan Cumming is still really annoying.

  13. GOLEDENEYE still holds up the worst for me. See above comment from years ago. However I really want to like it so I can like both Martin Campbell ones. Kind of like how I love Timothy Dalton so much I really want to like LICENCE TO KILL. And damned if after six viewings it didn’t grow on me. I’m at at four with GOLDENEYE. Will two more do it?

  14. caruso_stalker217

    October 21st, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    The effects have really hurt GOLDENEYE over the years. I love miniatures and all, but some of that shit is SUPERMAN ’78 quality. The plot is paper-thin, but I still find it an enjoyable experience. It’s actually the Bond film that got me interested in the series outside of the Craig films. I can now say that I am a James Bond fan.

    And because of the three month old discussion above I’ve put TOMORROW NEVER DIES on the ol’ Netflix queue. Haven’t seen it yet.

    Also, LICENCE TO KILL is great. Robert Davi is the sleaziest Bond villain ever.

  15. Fred Topel – I don’t understand this “want to like it” notion I read repeatedly online. Either you like a film or you don’t. You can admire it even if you don’t care for it. Besides alot of those Bond directors who work that series alot have uneven records. Consider Guy Hamilton, who directed maybe the best of them movies in GOLDFINGER, genuine escapist classic and essential 1960s cinema. He also shot the pretty good LIVE & LET DIE, and the tremendously dull DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and flat THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. (Or I would bring up John Glen and his 80s Bond movies. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY is quite terrific, but he also made A VIEW TO A KILL, my pick for worst Bond film. Go figure.)

    I saw GOLDENEYE again a few weeks back, and I still quite enjoy it, a solid spy thriller/adventure picture of its time (which isn’t a fault) that I thought brought 007 in line with contemporary action cinema instead of being so rusty. I mean I love THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, but consider the action cinema in that movie compared with other actioneers released around that era like LETHAL WEAPON and DIE HARD….well its about as hip as your Dad in plaid. I mean what’s not to like about driving a tank through St. Petersburg and running over shit and national monuments?

    Plus I like that we had a sadist Bond villain. “She always enjoyed a good squeeze.” Also one has to adore Sean Bean’s death by overkill. Oh wait that long ass drop didn’t kill him? OK crash a satelite on him! Again, what’s not to like? I can freely disagree with Vern, who I wish I wish I wish would review more Bond movies. Hell he should review LICENSE TO KILL, that’s one that tries to be up Vern’s alley. Whether it worked or not, that’s debatable. Benicio Del Toro might just have the most awesome Bond baddie death ever, death by coke grinder.

    Maybe I’m biased towards GOLDENEYE because it was my first Bond movie? Not the best or my favorite of them, but I’m fond of it.

    Caruso – I don’t know, I actually kinda find charming all those old FX in models and bigass expensive sets and whatever that were constructed by hand and fully thought out, not bluescreened to death (like say the AVENGERS climax) or simply drawn up by some asshole behind a laptop.

    Honestly the only Bond movie I can bitch about the FX is A VIEW TO A KILL, and only because of how poorly matched the action scenes are with the insert/rearview projected shots. (Not to mention Moore was so damn old by then, you kept being distracted by his sad sorry excuse of his hair trying to lie for his age.)

    I like TOMORROW NEVER DIES, most of it at least I consider a decent actioneer, with a good believable, timely (if of course ridiculous) villain scheme. It only falters in the climax, and at the time I felt like it tried to emulate John Woo if piss poorly. Now in retrospect after catching it again on TV recently*, I don’t think they were trying to ape Woo as much as it just was done piss poorly in general. Plus the idea of Michelle Yeoh needing rescuing is pretty damn ludicrous but again its his movie, and you must placate Mr. Bond that fat diva.

    *=Unless its STAR WARS or GODFATHER or DIRTY HARRY, those early Bond movies are the only pre-1980s movies that cable TV plays anymore it seems

  16. Speaking of which, is anybody pumped to see SKYFALL? I know its already getting hyped into the stratosphere with those very positive early reviews. I hope its good.

  17. caruso_stalker217

    October 22nd, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Well, I spent most of the year forgetting that there was even a new Bond movie coming out. Once I got that sorted out, though, I was starting to look forward to it. From what I’ve seen in the trailers and such I’m feeling very optimistic. I’m hoping for some CASINO ROYALE level goodness.

    Although without Eva Green’s plump youknowhats I’m not sure that’s even possible.

  18. They say SKYFALL is the best Bond in a long time, maybe even ever. They said the same about the last two mind numbingly stupid ones. I won’t get fooled again and skip this franchise at least until Craig is finished.

  19. CJ, you aren’t seriously saying that you don’t like CASINO ROYALE? Or Craig, for that matter?

  20. Somebody really terrible must dub him in the German version, that’s all I can figure.

  21. Interesting enough, Graig is dubbed by the same voice actor as Adam Sandler, but I didn’t notice until somebody told me. (Same voice actor, different voice and speech pattern.)

    But seriously, I think Craig lacks the most important parts of James Bond: Charme & charisma. He would make a cool villain henchman #1 (I could totally see a scene near the end. where he beats the shit out of Bond until he is able to grab his gun, shoot him in the foot and throw him down a building), but is completely miscast as Bond. (In fact, I didn’t like him in anything until his recent SNL gig. Now I wish someone would cast him in a silly comedy.)

    My main problem with CASINO ROYALE is that it’s boring as fuck and doesn’t make any sense. I mean, I love the parcour chase. That’s some seriously awesome shit, but a huge part of the movie is about a game of poker! A group of guys sit around a table and look at each other. Poker is one of those games that is only exciting when you play it by yourself. Then the whole setup for the game is stupid. “Hey, Mr Bond. MI6 can’t think of any better way to get LeChiffre out of the way, so…would you mind beating him in a party of poker and emberass him in front of some warlords who gave him money?”

    Then they promised us a brand new “realistic” Bond, but in the end he is more cartoony and larger than life than ever! He just shrugs off a poison induced cardiac arrest as if he would do this every day and can even punch a dozen villains out while having a nail stuck in his shoulder! Not to mention the most unintentional hilarious torture scene ever, which only gets sillier when he already screws his girl in the next scene again, as if the producers wanted to make sure that the audience doesn’t have to worry about his manhood. “Hey, don’t worry people! He got punched in the nuts a few times, but you see, after a few weeks in rehab he is able to fuck again!”

    And don’t get me started on QUANTOM OF SOLACE, where Bond first wants to avenge his girl from the last movie, but then instead hunts some guy who wants to sell water to a dictator, while M doesn’t trust Bond until he knocks her bodyguards out.

  22. Interesting, CJ, but I don’t agree with you on any of them.

  23. That would be “interesting points”…

  24. Regarding Quantum, I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that was one of the best Bonds, quite the opposite in fact. So that one is fair game for criticism, even though it probably could’ve been way way worse since they didn’t have a finished script and couldn’t hire any writers to work on it. That’s still not an excuse for all the shakycam bullshit though.

  25. I think Craig is a great Bond because he doesn’t fall for the superficial aspect of the character, i.e., his charm. The charm is a lie, an acquired skill no different than marksmanship or hand-to-hand combat. It’s a thin veneer stretched over an engine of animal brutality, which is itself wrapped around a core of loyalty to Queen and Country, the only thing keeping Bond from being just a thug and murderer. It’s the ultimate metaphor for British imperialism: Bond comes swathed in the finest accoutrements civilization has to offer, but he’s always prepared to dispense barbaric violence to enforce his will. I like that Craig is playing a Bond who’s near the beginning of his career, so his suave playboy facade isn’t totally calcified yet. The beast is right near the surface, not just ready but eager to come out. I can imagine him becoming Pierce Brosnan later in life: blasé, cynical, always cloaking his vicious deeds in a smirk and a quip.

    That said, I’ve liked but haven’t really loved either of Craig’s movies. CASINO ROYALE has awesomeness in spades but it does drag on far too long, as most Bond movies do, particularly in the sagging poker section (if there’s a way to make card-playing exciting onscreen, I haven’t seen it). I admire QUANTUM OF SOLACE’s efforts to get right to the point, and it would be a solid little adventure if it weren’t for the fact that it was shot and edited by a team of hypertensive howler monkeys. The footage I’ve seen from SKYFALL looks great, though. It’s nice to see someone making a big-budget explodorama who knows how to frame a goddamn shot. I’m definitely onboard.

  26. what I like about Craig’s Bond is that he feels believable as a rugged badass who could snap your neck, but at the same manages to also be suave (although like you said Mr M, it feels like just another skill he’s learned to help him in the field)

    I’m looking forward to Skyfall

  27. The only thing I will say about Craig’s Bond is that the ladies (real ones) LOVE him, so he qualifies.

    Can’t wait for SKYFALL.

  28. limey – I remember that college screening for CASINO ROYALE, all the women (and some men) gasping at Craig’s killer abs. (I heard he allegedly hated that aspect and demanded never to do such gratuitous chest-blaring again. Bah.)

  29. So I rewatched THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN tonight, and shit it’s still kinda boring. Such a great pulpy set-up I could get behind, and Christopher Lee (born to be a Bond villain, hell he was a cousin to Ian Fleming) as the sharpshooting adversary….but between point A with the opening teaser and point C when he and Bond finally have their “duel” (which is good fun, I must admit), point B it really felt like the movie was flopping inland struggling for air.

    But I’ll give it credit: How many movies have male villains with 3 nipples?

  30. I’d say it’s easily the cheapest looking/feeling Bond movie (EON one at least) to boot. Love that funhouse though

  31. The Original... Paul

    October 24th, 2012 at 5:39 am

    To me there’s a weird kind of synergy between “Thunderball” and “Casino Royale” (and a couple of the other Bond movies, come to that). In both movies, clearly the production values are excellent and all the technical staff are bringing their A-game, but the movies just completely drop the ball in terms of story and character. These movies frustrate the hell out of me, to be honest. They look great, they sound great, there’s no really bad acting (well, maybe not in “Casino”. “Thunderball” has way too many people in it who just don’t seem to give a crap.) It’s very obvious that both movies had a lot of great people working on them, so to fail as badly as they actually do fail on the most basic level of storytelling and character development… it’s just depressing.

    As for “Goldeneye”, I like it. Do not love it. The “token female villain” (this was at the stage of Bond’s movies where there always had to be a sexy villainess to balance out the un-PC “Bond girls”) is the worst of any of the movies, by far. Poor Famke Janssen – who’s been really, really good in many of the roles I’ve seen her in – does her best, but the character is just… ugh. It’s like some kind of horrific parody-gone-wrong. The tone is wrong, the name is wrong, just EVERYTHING is wrong about this character. To this day I can’t watch that movie without cringing at the Janssen scenes.

    Despite that, though, I think it’s a fairly solid Bond movie. I do like that they kept Sean Bean’s involvement to a minimum in the marketing, not giving away that his role was anything more than a cameo. I was genuinely surprised by the “reveal” when I saw this movie in the cinema.

  32. The Original... Paul

    October 24th, 2012 at 5:44 am

    RRA:

    “But I’ll give it credit: How many movies have male villains with 3 nipples?”

    The way you put it makes it sound like there are leagues of female villains out there with three nipples each. Is this another one of those movie sub-genres that have passed me by?

  33. Paul – True, I can’t think of any other than TOTAL RECALL, and she wasn’t a villain.

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