"KEEP BUSTIN'."

A View to a Kill

May 24, 1985

On the subject of James Bond movies I’m ignorant. A very casual viewer. I come to A VIEW TO A KILL as an ordinary civilian perusing the films of Summer 1985 and hoping this could be a good action movie for its era. According to publicly available data, it is the seventh and final of Roger Moore’s outings as 007. All of his except THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN were summer releases like this, attempting to fulfill that popcorn blockbuster kind of slot, drawing in regular chumps like me along with the generations of die hards.

Last year I reviewed LICENCE TO KILL in my summer of ’89 series and it was cool how much that one combined the standard Bond material with the tropes of ’80s action movies, to the point that he turned in his badge to go get revenge on a South American druglord played by Robert Davi. During the opening credit sequence of A VIEW TO A KILL I could imagine it being a very 1985 Bond in a similar way, and for that brief moment it was beautiful.

The sequence is designed by Maurice Binder, who invented the Bond credit sequence with DR. NO and did 14 of them in total (and also BARBARELLA!), but he captures a neon new wave sort of feel here when his women with black-light lips, eyelashes, body paint and guns dance through flames to the tune of the extremely of-its-time theme song by Duran Duran. This is a movie that kicks off with a model’s glowing orange fingernails slowly unzipping her fur-lined ski jacket, a luminescent 007 logo revealing itself as her breasts spread open (I honestly can’t tell if its printed on a t-shirt, or painted on her skin, both of which have their strengths) but that’s the peak. It never reaches that majesty again, in my opinion

The sequence includes some goofy imagery of skiing and a melting ice sculpture of a woman – kinda weird since we’ve already made it past the snowy part of the movie, when James Bond (Roger Moore, SPICE WORLD) recovers a microchip from a frozen corpse in Siberia and then skis away from The Russians (remember the threat of communism? Also mentioned in GOTCHA!, GYMKATA and RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II).

That opening is directed by Willy Bogner, who also did ski sequences in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, plus ski documentaries and (non-documentary?) FIRE AND ICE (1986).

There’s some good stuntwork there – one of Bond’s skis gets knocked off, so he keeps going, balancing on one foot. He manages to steal a snowmobile, which gets shot and blown up by a helicopter gun (another connection to RAMBO). One nice ‘80s-in-a-good-way touch that first shows up here is that John Barry’s score is infused with little hints of electric guitar noodling.

Also it’s cool when he shoots a red smoke bomb into a helicopter to make it crash. But when he uses a pontoon from the wreckage as a snowboard the novelty of the stunt is overshadowed by a total record scratch of a joke: they abruptly start playing “California Girls.” Worse, they didn’t pay for the original recording, using a soundalike by “tribute band” Gidea Park. See, that’s why Vin Diesel in xXx was so xXxtreme and Not Your Father’s James Bond. Both of them ski and snowboard, but Vin doesn’t think it’s funny to play a Beach Boys cover over it. Totally different sensibilities.

The microchip is something designed to withstand the magnetic pulse of a nuclear blast. MI6 fears that The Russians could use them and then set off a bomb in space to destroy everybody else’s computers. So they send Bond to a horse race to spy on Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, hot off of THE DEAD ZONE), openly sinister CEO of the company that makes them.

There are many things that are fun about the James Bond character. One of them is not “he can pretend to be a rich guy interested in buying horses.” He spends a surprisingly long chunk of the movie pretending he’s trying to learn about horses when actually he’s trying to prove Zorin’s use steroids. Not my kind of party. About the only interesting part of the horse section is when Zorin leads him on a crazy full contact horse race obstacle course which I feel should be against regulations.

But it’s at the race that we first learn of by far the best part of the movie: Zorin’s henchwoman/martial arts instructor/lover May Day (Grace Jones between CONAN THE DESTROYER and VAMP). I don’t think it’s meant as a joke, but I got a big laugh when Bond and his spy friends are watching Zorin in the stands through binoculars, this incredible woman standing out in a startlingly red robe and enormous pope hat/graduation cap, looking like an extra in a Star Wars prequel, and Bond asks, “Who’s that with him under the hat? With the red dress?” as if he has to be specific. And the guy takes a second to say, “Oh, that’s May Day.” As if it wouldn’t go…

“Who—”
“May Day.”

Anyway, May Day is A VIEW TO A KILL. If you’re gonna watch it, she’s the reason. She sports a variety of interesting hairstyles and hoods, does some fight training in a leotard, dead lifts a guy and tosses him. She’s as intimidating as any Bond henchman I know of, but way more fashionable. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t treat her with the proper respect at all times. When she has figured out that this annoying dipshit staying in their mansion is a spy, but then he “outsmarts” her by getting into bed really fast and saying he was waiting for her, Zorin smiles at her and it’s kind of like, “Oh well, I guess I have to have sex with him.”

Worse, at the end when she realizes Zorin is a creep she seems helpless all the sudden. Okay, she sort of saves the day, but only after Bond literally leads her by the hand out of a flooded mine. And she screams when some sparks shoot out at her. It just doesn’t fly. If I know May Day at all I know she’d be carrying him out of there like John Matrix carries a log.

One nice touch in that scene is that she sees one of her fellow henchwomen dead and gets upset. “Jenny!” We never saw enough of that character with the solid Bond name of Jenny Flex (acting debut of Alison Doody from INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE), but I like the acknowledgment that these two must’ve worked together and care about each other.

There’s a part where Bond finds out that Zorin might have been an experimental steroid baby created in a Nazi experiment. Good to know. He’s also an ex-KGB agent. We learn that his movie-Lex-Luthor style plan is to inject water into the San Andreas fault to cause an earthquake that will destroy Silicon Valley and give him a monopoly on microchips. Just think how many apps we wouldn’t have had he been successful!

I realize 1985 is 35 years ago, but this seems dated and clunky for 1985. Some of the action – courtesy of second unit director Arthur Wooster (HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING) and “action sequence arranger” Martin Grace (PATHFINDER) – is pretty cool, like when May Day parachutes from the Eiffel Tower and he chases her to the top of a boat, in part by driving only the front half of a car. But any time there’s fisticuffs it’s kind of saddled with its hero being an ordinary looking 57 year old. So every once in a while they pretend like he can flip off of some stairs or something but mostly he’s slow punching guys like it’s an old cowboy movie.

The old Bond posters were always incredible

There’s a scene in the Eiffel Tower involving a performance with butterfly puppets dancing around on strings. May Day comes in and replaces the puppeteer and uses a butterfly with a poison dart to assassinate a detective meeting with Bond. It’s a cool gimmick but it’s staged so that she walks out in the middle of a crowded room of onlookers and knocks the guy out. They show her in plain view of everyone and add loud sound effects but act like she’s invisible. No one notices at all.

It’s not really worth hammering on the trope that Bond runs into many beautiful young women that improbably go to bed with him, but it’s goofier with Moore because he’s not as suave as most of the other Bonds, and he’s undercover as an annoying rich brat who shouldn’t be attractive anyway. (I like the joke that he plays a recording of complaining to his servant next to a bug in his room). For a while he’s working with oil heiress/geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts, a few years after BEASTMASTER) and it literally seems like her uncle is in town to visit. Doesn’t quite have the sizzling sexual chemistry the series generally tries for.

Of course Bond’s terrible puns, which we now know as “dad jokes,” don’t help with that. Not just the sexual harassment ones but, like, he finds a hidden elevator and says, “Quite a letdown.” Jesus. In his defense, Zorin says, “So, does anyone else want to drop out?” after dumping a reluctant investor from his blimp (“Mayday will provide you with a drink”), so maybe it’s part of the secret agent culture.

It’s pretty cool to see Walken as a Bond villain, of course, but it’s not really a great villain or a particularly memorable Walken performance. David Bowie actually accepted the role early on, but backed out. Then Sting turned it down. Maybe that’s why Walken has that hair. Bowie would’ve been a pretty cool villain and added something to the movie, but it probly wasn’t worthy of his time.

The screenplay is by Richard Maibaum (DR. NO through LICENCE TO KILL) and Michael G. Wilson (FOR YOUR EYES ONLY through James Bond Jr.). Director John Glen had been an editor and second unit director since the late sixties, including on ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER, before he took over directing the Bond movies starting with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, OCTOPUSSY, and this. But nobody gives a shit about that because they only ever want to talk about him doing ACES: IRON EAGLE III. In my experience.

The movie and theme song were hits, though the reviews weren’t great for the former. I was relieved to find out that some people rank it as the worst or one of the worst Bonds, so it wasn’t just me who found it lackluster. Still, gotta love that May Day, and those opening credits. I don’t regret watching those.

SUMMER OF 1985 NOTES

Cold War themes:

The head of the KGB, General Gogol (Walter Gotell, SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS) is a reoccurring character who’s not portrayed as evil, and since Zorin is a rogue KGB agent he awards Bond the Order of Lenin for stopping him. So I’d say it’s kind of a ROCKY IV style conciliatory ending.

Robots:

Q (Desmond Llewelyn, from the James Bond pictures) introduces a stupid robot dog thing that he calls “a highly sophisticated surveillance machine.” Unlike the PROWLER in CODE OF SILENCE I’ve found no evidence that this was a real device.

Tie-ins:

There were two video games, one for Commodore 64 and various systems I never heard of, and one a text based game for DOS and Apple II. The movie also inspired four Find Your Fate books (like Choose Your Own Adventure, I think). And it looks like they were written by R.L. Stine!

Time capsule stuff:

There’s a joke about “women’s lib.” They explain E.M.P.s like you never would’ve heard of it before. The same blimp was used in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Most important thing about the movie:

This is the film debut of Dolph Lundgren. I missed him though and had to rewind – he’s a Russian agent and I think his face is only very visible in one shot after Grace Jones body slams a guy. (He was dating her at the time and happened to be on set when they needed a guy.) According to Sylvester Stallone, Dolph’s screen debut was almost as the Russian villain in a movie released two days earlier, RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, until Stallone realized this was the guy they’d already cast for ROCKY IV. (That sounds kind of made up, though. How would that slip past them?)

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176 Responses to “A View to a Kill”

  1. I agree this is the worst Bond movie. One of the worst things, of course, is that Moore is so old. I was always a Moore fan, almost certainly because he was my first Bond, but even as a young teen I knew this performance (and movie) was a disaster.

    However, I might rank License to Kill and The Living Daylights as the second- and third-worst Bond movies. I had no problem with Dalton himself. It was those damned movies. Granted, the cartoony plots of the typical Bond movies can be kind of ridiculous, but Bond shouldn’t be fighting a drug lord, not even for revenge.

    Walken has his moments, but I feel like he’s coasting, maybe on his bad hairdo. I know nothing about Walken’s personal life, but if you told me that he’s been on drugs at some point I would lay money that his habit peaked in ‘84-‘85.

    I think Tanya Roberts approached Denise Richards level of implausibility, but damn did I have a thing for her back then, so all was forgiven. But, yeah, Grace Jones was where it was at in this movie.

    Hehe, Vamp. There’s a movie that lives in my mind as a goofy ‘80s romp when it is in fact (at least) a little bit more than that. And Grace gets a lovely number that, while no Salma Hayek, is pretty great.

  2. Roger Moore starred in Bogner’s Fire, Ice & Dynamite (1990) sequel.

  3. Apologies for coming in guns-a-blazin’ but in my opinion Roger Moore is far and away the worst Bond and the fact that this is the worst Bond movie doesn’t surprise me (it and “Octopussy” are the only Bond films I haven’t been able to get through, but “The Man With the Golden Gun” is the worst of the ones I have seen). I don’t begrudge anyone else having a different opinion but whenever I hear “He was the Bond I grew up with” as a disclaimer I privately downgrade whatever positive opinion follows. We’re all adults now and we’re capable of recognizing that the quality level of these movies is pretty low. Sorry if that sounds like negativity. I just had to get it off my chest. I’m glad that Vern came to this objectively and arrived at the conclusion that it’s terrible.

    p.s. I also think Timothy Dalton is a top three Bond and I prefer him to Daniel Craig

  4. Follow-up post to clarify that my Roger Moore screed was not directed at Johnny Utah. Johnny you seem like a cool guy and I wasn’t responding directly to you mentioning that you grew up with Mr. Moore since you acknowledge that this movie was “a disaster.”

  5. This is actually one of the classic Bond movies that I have seen in full, although I don’t remember much.

    That said, things you didn’t mention:

    – Patrick McNee has a supporting role and it had quite the event character, to see John Steed (of the british THE AVENGERS show) appear in a Bond movie. Especially since Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman already had pretty iconic roles. Unfortunately he doesn’t do much.

    – The theme song by Duran Duran was not just a hit it was (maybe still is, not sure) the commercially most successful of the series!

    – It was Roger Moore’s last, because he basically agreed with the bad quality, hated the violence in it (especially the scenes with the guy getting shoved into a turbine and Zoran machine gunning down everybody)

    – When it comes to great death scenes, Zoran’s one is often mentioned, because of the look on his face, right before he falls off the bridge. And I agree. The “Fuck, NO!” look is a great touch.

  6. Believe It! – Thanks for pointing that out, I didn’t catch that when I looked at his filmography. That’s pretty funny/cool.

  7. I was seven years old and this was my first theatrical Bond film. For that, I retain some residual affection for it but no, it’s not a good movie. I can recall watching a few Bond films on VHS with my parents but the main draw at that age, of course, was the Duran Duran song. That and John Barry’s penultimate score for the series are its enduring legacy for me.

  8. CJ, let me add to the John Steed/James Bond connection that – beside the fact that they badly needed a sidekick who looked older than the hero – Moore and McNee played Sherlock Holmes and doctor Watson in the 1976 TV Movie SHERLOCK HOLMES IN NEW YORK. I believe Bond even says “elementary” at some point during the break-in in the stables.

    But, yeah, everybody’s right, this is one of the most boring 007 adventures ever.

  9. I am a Bond fan so I appreciate the most magnificent low points as much as the best ones. View to a Kill to me is one of the most magnificent ones along with Moonraker. They just tried so hard, as opposed to forgettable Octopussy and no fun Die Another Day.

    The practical action is always good. I like the fire truck chase and Jones is fantastic. I guess the lack of chemistry and stuff never bothered me because it’s like oh well, they’ll try again in two years.

    My greatest cinematic regrets are not going to see No Retreat No Surrender with my friend and not seeing this in theaters because I didn’t get into Bond until the ‘90s.

  10. And Spy Who Loved Me was my fav til Casino Royale. That just had everything.

  11. Gidea Park had actually had a Top 20 hit in the UK with a Beach Boys megamix/medley a couple of years before this

    Tony Scott was supposedly a bit can of May Day, and cited her as the inspiration for the “look” of Bridgette Nielsen in BEVERLY HILLS COP 2

  12. Daniel- I wouldn’t say “the quality level of these movies is pretty low”. I get that a lot of people don’t like the tongue-in-cheek tone, the deviations from Fleming, the Connery movies etc. But for the most part, especially the Lewis Gilbert films, we’re talking about a sequence of films with some of the best scores, stunts and cinematography of their era. Born at the end of 86, I’m out of touch with my generation’s views on the Bond films (I vastly preferred SKYFALL to CASINO ROYALE, and enjoy quite a bit of DIE ANOTHER DAY), I accept that, but at the same time I don’t think the double-taking pigeons, space stations and inappropriate slide-whistles of the Moore era negate all the entertainment they have to offer.

  13. I recommend Willy Bogner’s FIRE AND ICE. It’s not a documentary, it’s technically a romantic comedy, but the plot is extremely thin and it’s about 90% ski stunt montages, like some kind of DEATH CHEATERS thing.

    I have a soft spot for the old Roger Moore bond pictures, I’ll take something goofy like MOONRAKER over morose post-action stuff like QUANTUM OF SOLACE any day.

  14. I never really understood what Bogner was doing. There was some big hype around him when I was young, but I guess he was skiing really good and filmed it? Maybe he was some kind of upperclass Tony Hawk precursor? I don’t know. It’s 2020, so I should probably google it.

  15. I love how we all agree the action in this movie doesn’t really work because Moore is 57 and too old.

    In other news, James Mangold announced this week he is working hard on a new Indiana Jones script for Harrison Ford, who is 77.

    Also, my two cents, as a huge Bond fan who has spent a lot of time with these movies: I’m not sure Moore is the worst Bond, I think he just got stuck in a really bad stretch of Bond movies. I’m not sure if any of the Bond actors would have survived this and Octopussy and For Your Eyes Only.

  16. And I keep forgetting to comment on the posters. Yes! Yes, they were incredible. I’m not a 007 FAN, but so many of the classic posters should hang on my wall, including the one pictured in your review. They really make the modern ones, that are basically just fashion shoots of Daniel Craig, look even worse in comparison.

  17. AVTAK also had the memorable Moore/Jones back to back poster, and the poster that was withdrawn for shockingly putting Bond in a white tuxedo.

    I guess my hottest take on the Bond films is that I personally don’t think there’s a bad one in the bunch. Lesser ones obviously, but none I would say come under the 5/10 barrier. To that point I would note there’s never been a BATMAN AND ROBIN moment, they’ve always had the sense to know when to reign it in before things get to that point. The flipside of that is that I’m not sure there are any true masterpieces, and the lesser ones don’t have the fascination factor of a BATMAN AND ROBIN, they’re just less good

  18. This is really very poor but, like Krautsalat, I’ll take it over QUANTUM OF SOLACE any day. At least the pre-credit sequence, with its awful, awful snowboarding+Beach Boys thing, signals a desire to entertain rather than a total lack of understanding of action.

    For me, one of the incidental pleasures of Bond movies, and particularly Moore era Bonds, is seeing British character actors who mostly worked on TV in my childhood getting a big movie outing. Here we have Fiona Fullerton. who’d been in a hospital soap in the ’70s, playing a KGB agent, and David Yip, who admittedly had been in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM the previous year. playing a CIA agent, Chuck Lee (Does anyone know if this is a deliberate nod to WAY OF THE DRAGON or just me over-reading happenstance? It feels unlikely, but there it is). Yip to this day remains one of Britain’s most visible actors of south-east Asian origin.

    Also we have Willoughby Gray, who played recurring characters in two unrelated TV sailing dramas in the ’70s and ’80s, as the old Nazi doctor. Gray had spent the war commanding an artillery reconnaissance unit and been commended for gallantry for action in Belgium.

    And yeah, sure, Grace Jones own this one. It’s just a shame it doesn’t deserve her.

  19. Haha, no sweat, Daniel! I get you.

    But it reminds me of something I failed to mention, which is that I don’t argue on any objective level for the quality of Moore’s Bond, or Moore’s Bond movies. There’s some good ones with weak parts, there’s some bad ones with strong parts, and there’s A View to a Kill. Moore and his Bond movies light a warm fire in the heart of my gone childhood, and Moore’s a perfectly fine actor, but I understand much of my warmth is subjective and rose-tinted.

    On the other hand, I still find the Jaws material from The Spy Who Loved Me to be kind of chilling. Is this just because I was 6 and it was my first Bond? Maybe, but he’s pretty nasty in that movie, even on modern-day rewatches. On the other other hand, the Jaws stuff in Moonraker was laughable in a bad way then and remains so now.

    At least the sheriff doesn’t pop up again in TSWLM!

  20. Borg9 — I’m not sure if I like Quantum less than View to a Kill, but it IS awful. Easily the worst Craig.

    Having said that….

    The villain’s scheme in Skyfall was preposterous, but then Christoph Waltz came along and made Bardem look like Stephen Hawking. Jesus Christ, screenwriters.

  21. My hot take: The only Bond films that don’t overstay their welcome by at least 25 minutes are QUANTUM, LICENSE TO KILL, GOLDENEYE, and maybe FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE but it’s been a while so don’t quote me on that last one. All the others have at least one extraneous love interest and location change that only serve to extend the part where it drags in the middle, which, with all the product placement and poncing about in these films, is already way too long as it is. QUANTUM in particular is underrated simply for being the only film in the series that’s the proper length for material this slight. The editing is atrocious but at least I don’t have to watch this smug prick play cards or buy racehorses for a half hour.

  22. My second hot take, probably much hotter, you might want to wear oven gloves for this one pal, is that I rank FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE fairly low. I get the sense it’s more admired for what it isn’t (ie the majority of films afterwards) than for what it is. Which is cool, there’s no wrong way to like a movie (independent of ways that are a symptom of more serious tendancie), but as I prefer a good number of the films afterwards it doesn’t do it for me. I’m also not a huge fan of the “acceptable” Moore film FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, although I think it was a necessary step after MOONRAKER

  23. Majestyk,

    I’m a huge Bond person, and I 100% agree about the “overstay their welcome” line. Many of the movies are pretty anticlimactic. If, off the top of my head, I put together the top 20 scenes in a Bond movie, I doubt many of them would be in the last Act, and most would be before the credits run. As always, you surprise me: that is an unusual foursome of Bond movies you chose to give a thumbs up to. (side question MM, any good horror movies lately?). I love Casino Royale, but man once they get out of the casino, after the ball slapping, it gets pretty forgettable.

    A few random Bond Thoughts: George Lazenby was a sneaky good Bond and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of the few Bond movies where they actually tried to do something interesting with the character.

    Until reading this feedback, I forgot how many bad Bond movies Roger Moore made. Not that he was bad, they were just bad movies. Spy Who Loved Me though is a ton of fun. Connery’s Bond is so different from Moore’s bond, I would love to have seen how they would have fared in each other’s movies.

  24. I started a project of rewatching the Bond films in order this year. The Moore era seems to go on forever, though, and I’ve been stalled before A VIEW TO A KILL for a month. It doesn’t help that my memory of it is that it’s a mostly nothing entry, despite Jones and Walken and the only 007 theme song to hit #1 (which seemed better when I was a kid).

    For me, MOONRAKER and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY are highlights of this Bond period, despite the former’s bad reputation and the latter being thought of as a “return to form,” when the two films are incredibly similar in approach. This is the point where Bond story lines became untraceable. I can tell you what happens in FYEO but not what it’s about. And I sort of always enjoyed being lost in Bond plots. These two movies really shine on a moment by moment basis. They play into the character’s douchiness, and are full of crazy stunts and hijinks involving gondolas and different winter sports.

  25. I have a strong nostalgic fondness for the Bond series and continue to enjoy returning to them now despite their, uh, quirks (to put it generously). I actually recently read all the books for the first time last year and was really surprised by some of the differences to the movies. The biggest surprise to me was how Bond is a lot more of a *character* with a real internal life in the books. That doesn’t come through in the movies as much, but in the books he’s often hurt, scared, and sad about the way his job impacts his life.

    Anyway, this isn’t one of my favorites (though I really have to laugh at Walken’s plan to increase the price of his microchips by blowing up Silicon Valley- the main market for microchips at the time. Good thinking there, Goldfinger), and for some reason when I think about it, I always remember/imagine it stars Dalton instead of Moore.

    I am also a big QUANTUM OF SOLACE defender to be honest. It’s one of my favorites of the whole series, and I think it’s a lot more interesting than it gets credit for. I think it’s the most “realistic” Bond in a lot of ways, aside from perhaps the very earliest films. Speaking of, I think it’s paced a little poorly, but FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE has one of the first all-time great fight scenes in movie history between Robert Shaw and Connery on the train. I think that fight *still* holds up as one of the best the series has ever done.

  26. This one is so weird because it is overall pretty bad but then has these flashes of greatness like Grace Jones. It’s like there’s a good Bond movie hiding in there which just never materializes.

    Also, the opening sequence drove me crazy back then as one of the few people I knew who was even aware of snowboarding at the time. He pulls the ski off the snowmobile and it is suddenly transformed into an actual snowboard with proper bindings and everything. What?!?

    Side note: what is it with James Bond and skiing? Overall, there are a lot of skiing scenes in Bond movies. It’s not like that was a trope of their eras, I don’t think. It’s just weirdly over represented in Bond movies going back to the second installment if memory serves.

  27. Also, the villain of QUANTUM is a particular favorite *because* he’s not a colorful weirdo. He’s just a 1%er rich prick who thinks his money gives him license to do whatever he wants, and gets a hilariously gruesome death for it.

    (Favorite “colorful weirdo” Bond villain is definitely Jonathan Pryce in TOMORROW NEVER DIES, playing a *slightly* more evil version of Rupert Murdoch. He’s so evil that it’s on his board meeting agenda to provide evil updates to his equally evil minions).

  28. Dtroyt- I actually think that thing you mention about there being “flashes” of a great Bond movie in there is true for a lot of the franchise. It’s a rare one that’s solid all the way through, but imo they each have at least a few moments where it gets there.

    Also, I think the skiing is just a holdover from when skiing was a big popular thing to do in real life. bond movies have a tendency to pick up sports trends and throw them in a new flick about five years after the height of their popularity. See also: parkour in CASINO ROYALE, surfing in DIE ANOTHER DAY, skiing in like every Moore flick.

  29. Palermo,

    There are so few ‘plots” that stick out to me amongst any of the Bond films. I can tell you which action scenes are in which, which villains are in which, give you a general “go from point A to Point B” of each one. But if you asked me what the evil plan was for each villain, I would be hard pressed to even put forth a good guess. And I think I have seen all of them at least a handful of times. I probably saw the Dalton movies the least of all of them, but even those I can remember a little bit.

    The Roger Moore films, particularly Spy Who Loved Me, are so full of traditional Bond tropes, that they almost look like an Austin Powers movie when you go back and rewatch them. I feel like they became a parody of themselves. I think this was more a reflection of the changing “Blockbuster” culture. Live and Let Die (1973) and Man with The Golden Gun (1974) are way different than the 5 films that followed, but they were also pre-Star Wars. Moonraker was 100% a response to the wave of sci-fi that started to get pumped out after Star Wars. Man, I was surprised those first two Moore movies were that old when I looked them up.

    And I am not sure why Solace gets so much hate. I think it is the weakest of the Craig Bond films, for sure, but I don’t think it is bad by any stretch.

  30. Hot take or not, over the years I’ve concluded that you only need to watch five of these movies to get the full experience;

    1. CASINO ROYALE to understand where the character comes from.
    2. DR NO to see how a problem solver for the government operates.
    3. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE to witness how the character learns to pretend to be a seducer and a playboy, but still being a blunt instrument.
    4. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME as a lesson in how you can go over the top with the action while still having a serious thriller at the centre.
    5. ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE to get the seriousness and tragedy of it all.

  31. Another hot take: These days people only watch James Bond movies, because they are used to them. No offense to those who genuinely like and enjoy them, but I think they lost their appeal around the 90s.

    Back in their first three decades, it was understandable why they were a success. Bond was a manly man (as the cliche says: “Women want him and men want to be like him”) who went on adventures, that were an outstanding mix of (for its time) top notch action, exotic locations and a bit of a SciFi/Fantasy/Pulp angle too. During the Brosnan era, they became pretty interchangable, although competently made action movies, that failed to set any standards, like the series originally did. Even stuff like the popular CASINO ROYALE was basically just trying to jump on Jason Bourne’s post 9/11 pseudo-realism bandwagon.

    Again, if you genuinely see something in the modern 007 output that speaks to you, that’s awesome. But to me, it seems like the commercial success of these movies is these days only because of brand recognition only.

  32. I think “James Bond” is basically a genre unto itself at this point. It succeeds or fails in how it plays off its own troupes, not unlike a slasher movie or a romantic comedy. I’m not necessarily coming to them for innovation, but because I am in the mood for particular beats to be hit in a story. None of this is a defense of James Bond movies per se, but rather as an experience which one may grow a taste for even in its lowest outings. The attempts (and, usually, failures) to keep up with modern sensibilities and trends are just part of the charm.

  33. Kurgan- Good point about most Bond movies being uneven. I personally love them but there is usually some boring stuff even in the best movies.

    As far as the sports go, you’re right that they often jump on trends but man they have A LOT of skiing. Just off the top of my head, there’s this movie, OHMSS, the Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, the Living Daylights, the World is Not Enough and Spectre. I might even be forgetting some.

  34. I adore the bad Bond movies as campy fun and this is one of the best/worst, just an absolute joy. Give me this over the grim awfulness of “Live and Let Die” any day.

  35. Those of us who read the books first have sort of been waiting for a movie that encapsules what Fleming was going for. Terence Young was on the right path with the first two, and then Guy Hamilton came along and ruined everything. And since then it’s only OHMSS and parts of CR that have been close. Craig has nailed the character, and you can sort of accept that Connery in DN and FRWL, Lazenby in OHMSS, Moore in the last part of TSWLM, Dalton in LTK and Brosnan in GE, are the same guy. But why the hell can’t we get a proper, hard spy thriller to come with him?

  36. There’s a lot that’s wrong with one, but goddamn, I’ll take it in a heartbeat over a lugubrious slog like SKYFALL. I remember the first time I watched this, cackling all the way through the scene where Zorin machine-guns his own men while my cousin sat horrified. “Give me some spare clips.” I understand why people wanted more intensity from Walken, but I enjoy his take on the character — Zorin is just very nonchalant about little things like mass homicide.

    I also remember Tanya Roberts squealing “James!” about three million times, which wasn’t quite as fun.

    I doubt we’ll ever get a Bond on screen just like the one in the books. It gets harder with each passing year unless they go for a Cold War period piece. And he’s too vulnerable — we’ll never see anything like the opening chapter in the GOLDEN GUN novel, where a brain-washed Bond tries to assassinate M.

  37. I hate all Bond movies – and the character of James Bond – but thanks for writing a cool review about it. Like you say, the stuntwork can be great… then the yawning misery of the dialogue and stupidity fills 90% of all of the movies.

  38. grimgrinningchris

    May 29th, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    Why did they give Doody (who was all of 19 at the time) a great Bond girl name when she was in like 5 minutes of the movie… but gave Roberts a boring, lame normal person name?

    With a couple of exceptions, Moore’s movies were by and large the worst of the series.. I won’t say HE was the worst, cuz he is a fine actor and The Saint is awesome… but he was saddled with his own age and increasing cheese… but man, they had most of the best themes… fromLive And Let Die to Nobody Does It Better to For Your Eyes Only and View To A Kill…

  39. I watched THE RYTHM SECTION with Blake Lively the other day. It’s produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, and it’s just what I want from a Bond movie. Why can’t they just reboot the damn franchise into something just as intimate and intense. Preferably with a woman as 007.

  40. Yeah, this is one of the weaker entries. May Day is cool and the opening sequence and Paris sequence have a lot of memorable gimmicks and stunt work.

    I strongly oppose the idea that Bond became irrelevant after the 90’s. Casino Royale had tremendous WOM and re-ignited the passion for Bond among mainstream audiences. It’s also quite easily the best Bond movie ever. It’s a great action film and a great film in general, regardless of the franchise fame.

    Lazenby is by far the weakest Bond. Guy lacks charm completely. Moore is pure masculinity and charisma compared to him. I also think Lazenb’s film is by far the weakest Bond movie ever made. Yes, that final minute is great, but everything the precedes it is terrible. Even the action is terrible, which is maybe the worst sin a Bond movie can commit to.

    Quantum is unfortunately a very good Bond flick completely destroyed in the edit. I blame the director, not the editor. So much of the film is terribly paced, and the action scenes are sometimes completely incomprehensible. If the film would be 10 minutes longer, it could be very good. But now I find it largely unwatchable.

  41. Bond already became pretty irrelevant in the 70s. In the 60s there were hundreds of movies imitating the style of the 007 pictures, but since the 70s the Bond films have been chasing trends. That’s something I still enjoy, I can dig Blaxploitation Bond, Space Bond or 80s Action Bond.

    I disagree about ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE having bad action scenes, Lazenby brings a real physicality to those fights, something Connery lost in his later films and Moore never had.

  42. I was never into May Day in this film, but Chris Walken is great. The score is great (echoing the great theme song). Otherwise it is kinda bad, but I have a nostalgic soft spot for it since it was probably my first Bond movie. I read most of the books as a kid. The title is from one of the short stories I think, where Bond has to assassinate a cellist with a sniper rifle and bails out (I think) because she is beautiful. This of course became a plot point in the next film instead.

  43. I think that short story might have actually been called THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. Think FROM A VIEW TO A KILL was also an assassination story, and was actually set in Paris, so there is some small influence on the movie. I could look this up of course, but that’s no fun

  44. I looked it up, you are right. No fun!

  45. When I was a little kid, I had a big anthology book of adventure short stories with all sorts of different themes, one of which was “Spies”, and that had THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS in it. I always remembered the ending because I think it was one of the first times I’d encountered that thing where the title is actually in the story. At the end, he hasn’t killed the rival assassin (a beautiful cellist), but he reckons he “scared the living daylights out of her”.

  46. Bond. James Bond.
    Having read all the comments I think I can easily crown myself the “biggest Bond fan of outlawvern”.
    Seen all the movies numerous times. Bought the bluray boxset. Saw all the documentaries of said box set times infinity. Saw “everything Or nothing”. Bought the taschen table book. Bought the time special issue. And have been there opening day since I was 7. Want to guess which one was my first theatrical experience?
    A view to a kill! I won’t bother you with a current opinion on the movie. The concensus has been for years now that it’s one of the weaker ones. I just want to help people who didn’t live through that time understand us “tinted by nostalgia” guys.

    James Bond by 1985 was a religion. We awaited every two years for another coming of our lord and savior. He was THE superhero of our time. And Roger Moore was the “fun” Bond. So successful and ingrained in the role that he wanted to stop since before octopussy / THEY (the producers) also wanted to change him for monetary reasons and still when push came to shove they sent the truck with even more money to his doorstep for every new installment.
    He won the “Connery Bond / Moore Bond” match-up at theaters in 1983 for Christ’s sake! Even after “A view to a kill”, where now retro-actively everybody sees him as “too old for”, they desperately tried to keep him on board and it was he who quit for good. And believe me fans where GUTTED. As good as an actor Timothy Dalton is EVERYBODY AND THEIR MOTHER wanted Roger Moore to continue and where enormously underwhelmed from “The Living Daylights” and it’s half-seriousness at the time. The next full-serious try was the weakest box office ever and coupled with rights problems resulted in a 6 year hiatus.
    So don’t be too hard on Roger. He was (and if we are counting movies not years) the longest running bond for a reason. And he made fans of 2 generations in his time who all together would have gladly taken him as Bond until the next generation too.

    PS Culturally the Duran Duran song was HUGE. And the blending of the biggest band in the Universe with Bond was another huge factor in the film’s success. They showed the video clip before the movie in cinemas here!

    Love Petros.

  47. bastardjackyll

    May 31st, 2020 at 2:44 am

    I saw this and Rambo in the theater on the same day, I was 8.

  48. I found reviews from the time saying he was too old, so that’s not just a retrospective opinion. But I want to clarify – I love older action heroes. I tried to be clear by saying that he seems like a normal 57 year old, as opposed to a 57 year old Arnold, Stallone or Tom Cruise (who is in fact that age right now). But also I think someone who is physically older can still be an action hero, but it has to be handled differently from this to not be silly. Also, it could be counteracted by having older women in the cast.

  49. The previous film, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, had already acknowledged that Moore was getting a bit old to be a bed-hopping sex symbol, and rethought his character as more of an avuncular type. He even turns down the figure skater who sneaks into his hotel room. “You get your clothes on, and I’ll buy you an ice cream.” (Though Bond still has a fling with Carole Bouquet, who was 30 years younger.)

  50. Cruise is 57?? Jesus Christ. Yeah, Cruise can still be an action hero. Stallone can still make it work. But Moore always looks uncoordinated and weak in his action scenes. He can work well enough when it’s a ski scene or something and the stunt guy is doing everything, but his fight scenes sucked even when he first started. If he’s going to do Bond at that age they need to just let him get into shootouts.

  51. I don’t think it’s Roger’s age that’s the main problem with his later movies. John Glen sort of rebooted the franchise with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY after all the silly stuff in MOONRAKER. But all his movies after that got stupid, childish stuff in them. Cars cut in half and bar fights doesn’t belong in a Bond movie. And the hero dressing as a pensioner doesn’t help, either.

  52. Vern, you should check out the Who Dares Wins aka The Final Option combo of Lewis Collins and director Ian Sharp. Collins believed his interview with producer Cubby Broccoli nixed his chance at the job. I think the real loss is Timothy Dalton not having Ian Sharp behind the camera. Sharp would later be one of the second unit directors on Goldeneye.

  53. I second that. Haven’t seen it in over a decade but it’s great fun, with a thrilling finale

  54. WHO DARES WINS might not be the most rabidly right-wing thriller I’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly the most rabidly right-wing British thriller. Dig the final scene, where an onscreen list of real terrorist murders is accompanied by the Labour Party anthem. (Though North Americans might mistake the tune for “O Christmas Tree.”) The single action sequence consists of a bunch of incompetent mooks getting shot up by special forces.

    I suppose Judy Davis is good in it.

  55. I tried to watch WHO DARES WINS again earlier this year, but I had to turn it off. Politically it’s just plain offensive, but what I didn’t remember is that it’s also boring as hell.

  56. All of my comments on this one are going to be a scattered bunch. It’s been years since I’ve seen this, but if I’m remembering correctly doesn’t Bond actually look frightened to have to follow through on sex with May Day? Haha, good times. I absolutely loved your scene, Vern on how it would’ve really played out seeing her for the first time.

    I can’t hate on Moore because he was also the Bond from my youth and there was no escaping the movies in my house with my dad and 2 older brothers. They’re totally ridiculous but fun and I would rather watch them over some dreary, depressing movie. I do remember thinking at quite a young age that he was not the sexy Bond, though. Probably one of my first thought out sexual preference ideations was that it seemed like he’d be the kind of guy to fold his socks before taking you to bed. I’m not sure I’d still hold that opinion, but he is a bit fussy. If another Bond is the one who can pull off the terry cloth, shorty shorts, belted jumpsuit bathing suit cover-up Connery wears in GOLDFINGER and is considered the sexiest one, you’re kinda fucked.

    Bond theme songs – Moore did get some of the best ones. Here’s a bit of useless trivia for you: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY is the only opening credits to feature the singer. That’d be Ms. Sheena Easton, who I think was the first CD I ever owned.

    Bond posters – I know Bond girls have a rep for a lot of impossibility, but I didn’t realize being able to grip the cable on a suspension bridge with the sides of your feet was one of them.

    I’m not sure there are many of us on here who were around and old enough to be aware of just how popular Bond was in the 60s/70s/80s. He most definitely waned after that. In 1992 in a college history class of mine the professor asked the class to name off their heroes. He then filled the chalkboard with their names. He then added a name himself because it was a perfect example of something he wanted to illustrate. That name was James Bond. He said up until a year or two prior, he never had to add Bond because invariably, someone else would have.

  57. In 1992 we were too busy idolising that whippersnapper James Bond Jr.

  58. The first time I became aware of James Bond was when they ran a trailer for LIVE AND LET DIE on TV. I didn’t get to see a 007 movie until ‘79, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, but there were posters, toy cars, comics and books everywhere. You just knew he was a big deal.

  59. I was born in 1976, so I have a pretty good grasp how popular Bond has been in different decades. The series has thrived because it has always managed to re-invent itself just enough to become popular again after a relative low point.

    While you can’t directly translate B.O via inflation, and theater-going is much smaller than it used to be thanks to TV, VHS, DVD, Internet, video-gaming, social media, etc, it’s still interesting to look a the American domestic B.O for Bond movies, adjusted for inflation:

    Thunderball ($590 million)
    Goldfinger ($514.7 million)
    Skyfall ($358.3 million)
    You Only Live Twice ($336.4 million)
    Moonraker ($262.5 million)
    Die Another Day ($259.6 million)
    Tomorrow Never Dies ($255.8 million)
    From Russia With Love ($249.8 million)
    Diamonds Are Forever ($248.8 million)
    Casino Royale (2006) ($239.5 million)
    The World is Not Enough ($234.1 million)
    GoldenEye ($229.3 million)
    Spectre ($222.4 million)
    Quantum of Solace ($219.7 million)
    Octopussy ($202 million)
    The Spy Who Loved Me ($196.8 million)
    Live and Let Die ($187.3 million)
    For Your Eyes Only ($184.7 million)
    Casino Royale (1967) ($177.3 million)
    Dr. No ($177.1 million)
    Never Say Never Again ($164.9 million)
    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ($150.3 million)
    A View to a Kill ($132.8 million)
    The Living Daylights ($122.7 million)
    The Man with the Golden Gun ($105.1 million)
    Licence to Kill ($81.8 million)

  60. Of course when you judge the success of a franchise film, you always have to look at the film / films that preceded it. Goldfinger was universally beloved, which paved the way for Thunderball. Goldeneye came out after three low-points in the Bond franchise, so it hand uphill battle to become successful. But the great WOM from Goldeneye made Tomorrow Never dies into a smash, despite lesser reception. Etc.

  61. And Casino Royale was such a monumental debut for Craig that Quantum opened huge even though people ended up not liking it. Although Skyfall managed to go even bigger by playing up the apology for Quantum (“Don’t worry, this one is funny and comprehensible.”)

    I thought I was the biggest Bond fan here but I must admit the Tachen book was out of my price range.

  62. The Quantum of Solace videogame was a lot of fun. It did not care about story continuity andjust gottothe shooting parts. Which made a helluva lot of a better experience than theactual movie.

  63. Yeah, Skyfall managed to become huge despite disappointment to QOS, but it had a lot of things going for it: Goodwill from Royale, Adele’was massive at that point, very strong marketing, and especially 50-year anniversary which was covered in countless newspaper articles and magazine covers also here in Finland.

  64. I like this one more than you Vern, but I honestly can’t disagree with most of your problems with it.

    Roger’s a bit long in the tooth, and while it’s never quite as embarrassing as Connery in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN it’s unfortunate that he ends up shagging Tanya Roberts. At first it almost seems like the film’s willing to create a more paternal bond (whoops there’s my dad pun), like the scene where instead of trying to seduce her he tucks her in and guards her overnight with a shotgun in his lap. There’s really no reason for them to hop in the shower, except that this is the way Bond movies are supposed to end. I’m a fan of Moore as Bond, but honestly it might have been better if they’d already replaced him with Dalton. (For everyone but BRENDA STARR superfans.)

    Trysts with the other female characters are slightly less ridiculous. The Russian agent is a former squeeze (it was supposed to be Barbara Bach from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME but they changed it for some reason). The submarine pilot at the beginning…well, I’ll just say the British government’s shooting themselves in the foot hiring supermodel-level iceberg sub pilots to be stuck in that tiny boat with James Bond for five days if they’re interested in avoiding a sexual harassment case. Honestly I think Moore has the best chemistry with Patrick Macnee.

    Somebody commented that he looks scared during his sex scene with Grace Jones, I agree with that! That would have been one of the first sex scenes I ever saw in a movie when I was a kid, and witnessing sleek, muscular Grace Jones knock Moore around in bed was a pretty extreme introduction to what love-making is supposed to be like. For me that excuses the typical “ugh, another lady throwing herself at Bond”ness of the scene: if he wants the Mayday treatment, he’s going to get it on her terms! (“A little restless but I got off eventually.”)

    Speaking of scared, I like that Mayday loses her cool following the Zorin betrayal. It reminds me of a moment in MOONRAKER where a bad guy takes control of a centrifuge Bond is strapped into and tries to spin him to death; Roger Moore looks completely wrecked and terrified as he staggers out of the pod. I like seeing a tough character rattled, and with Mayday it’s no different. She still manages to give Zorin that look of utter contempt when she blows up with the bomb, effectively spoiling his big plan. Pretty badass.

    Personally I think the big action scenes make up for the lesser ones. Chasing Mayday off the Eiffel Tower into the halved-cab only to have her escape by boat is nifty. The finale on top of the Golden Gate is also pretty dope.

    One thing I’ve never seen brought up anywhere: Zorin executes the mayor of San Francisco after fabricating a tale where Stacy killed him for firing her. And he’s the mayor of San Francisco! This, uh, wasn’t too uncomfortable for anyone considering the real-life murder of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk under similar circumstances to Zorin’s invented scenario, less than a decade earlier? Yikes.

  65. Only somewhat related, but this is one of my dream possessions

  66. Ugh! This is no fun but Google SPY WHO LOVED ME/PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN QUAD POSTER

  67. Solongyoubastard: That’s not the mayor, just an official at the Division of Oil and Mines. (Does San Francisco’s city government have a Division of Oil and Mines?) Though now that you mention it, it is strange they’d stage an assassination at City Hall just a few years after the Milk and Moscone murders.

  68. I notice that the more conservative Bond fans are angry again. They’ve just barely gotten over the fact that a woman has taken the number 007 in the new movie, and now it turns out that their hero has a five year old child!

  69. SPOILERS FOR NEW BOND

    Have to admit my first reaction had visions of SUPERMAN RETURNS dancing in my head, by which I mean my first reaction was “ugh!” But thinking about it, it could make for interesting character development. I’m open; less concerned about that than I am them carrying on the Christopher Waltz Blofeld stuff from SPECTRE, which really didn’t work

  70. Child is an controversial choice, hopefully it will work. At least we can be 100% sure that Craig will make it work.

  71. A child is perfect for Craig because he acts like one every time he wraps shooting on one of these things. Can we be done with this miserable sour-faced stiff already?

  72. Eh? Craig is a terrific comedic actor.

  73. James Bond did have a daughter in CASINO ROYALE (the fun one)

  74. I don’t mind having Bond become a father BUT, what I *don’t* want is for it to be like in ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE and have a big status quo change only to end the movie (or have it happen halfway through or whatever) with murdering the kid and resetting Bond to square one.

  75. Pretty sure it’ll be a complete reset after Craig anyway (and probably after every actor leaves henceforth)

  76. Exactly!

    I hope Craig’s Bond gets a happy ending.

  77. New NO TIME TO DIE (2020) Trailer

    NO TIME TO DIE | Trailer 2

    The mission that changes everything begins… No Time To Die in cinemas this November.

  78. Tanya Roberts dead at 65 today.

  79. Nope

    Actress Tanya Roberts is still alive, according to her publicist

    Actress Tanya Roberts, who was reported by CNN and other media outlets to have died, citing her longtime publicist, Mike Pingel, is still alive, Pingel told CNN Monday.

  80. Rewatched this one last night in honor of Roberts. I still enjoy it. I’m not sure what makes this one shit-tier Bond when it does the same dumb stuff that the others do. I guess that’s the benefit of being a casual fan, I can’t tell what makes a good Bond (the awful and morally corrupt SKYFALL) from the worst movie ever (this one which is entertaining)

  81. geoffreyjar- Am with you on this. Look, I got into Bond during the Moore era so he IS MY Bond. I’d re-watch A View To A Kill before QUANTUM OF SOLACE or even the final (official) Connery outing DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.

    Maybe after the over-the-top Bond In Space outing MOONRAKER, and the exotic locations of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and OCTOPUSSY, Bond careening through SF in a fire-truck just seemed a little too low-key? I mean you could get scenes like that from any of the 500 or so action movies displayed at the local video store or playing on late night TV, but you needed the extra punch of the exotic from Bond. That and I do recall Bond at the big Manor House scenes dragging on, but other than that I have no problems with this and will most likely dig out my DVD for a re-watch.

    RIP Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle

  82. The great divider in the Bond camp is wether you want the movies to be more like the books or not. Or at least the character. And in that regard Moore only succeeded once: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. I think I’ll watch THE BEASTMASTER instead for my Roberts tribute.

  83. Obviously, I watched BEASTMASTER first

  84. By the way, GQ Magazine are hailing QUANTUM as Craigs best in a new piece.

  85. And if anyone’s qualified to rate the art of cinema, it’s the men’s fashion magazine that helped give the world FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS.

  86. I don’t think the source is that important in this case. I see it more as a sign of what might be the common view in a few years. Like the case with ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE – hated for years, then suddenly “everyone” saw what some of us noticed straight away: It the best of the bunch.
    PS! I don’t think that of QUANTUM.

  87. Hmm, I liked QUANTUM at the time but I have a feeling that won’t quite happen. Let’s meet here on January 7th 2038 to assess progress though.

    Has there been a big film from the last 15 years that was initially considered disappointing which is now generally well regarded? Can’t think of one off the top of my head. Feel like we’re a little too fashion conscious and aware of what we’re “supposed” to think of films these days to make reappraisal easy.

  88. That depends on wether “we” are us movie nerds or the general mainstream public. As long as I remember I’ve been accused of being too positive towards new films. And that’s why it gives me some pleasure to see that the net is full of “flops that are really quite good” lists.

  89. There was actually plenty to like about QUANTUM. Kurylenko was a cool Bond girl and Amalric was a suitably slimy baddie.

    It even ends with my best final scene of a Bond movie, ironically one which features no post-mission coitus with the female lead. Bond meets the man who seduced Vesper and made her betray him. We’ve had many baddies who could out-think, out-shoot, out-maneuver and out-fight Bond, but here in the climax of QUANTUM, Bond’s later casual indifference to women meets it’s match, an even bigger “use ’em then dump ’em” asshole than 007 himself would become later. I liked that this guy who appears in one scene, is never seen or heard from again, could have been Bond’s inspiration to morph into a world class serial philanderer.

    Everything else was shit.

    Bond’s dynamic with Felix, nicely established in CASINO ROYALE, royally squandered. The Greengrass-ian camera shakes that rendered pretty much every action sequence incomprehensible.

    Bond trying to be Bourne was a new low. Originals aspiring to be their imitators is depressing.

  90. Agree. The weakest link here were definitely director Marc Forster.

  91. I wonder if Foster will bring his post-action style to his forthcoming take on the THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE mythos?

  92. I can’t wait for Greengrass’ “camera-shakes” to elevate a Tom Hanks Civil War Drama

  93. It will perfectly simulate how the war was experienced by Civil War documentarians!

  94. After what we’ve seen from Capitol Hill this week I guess using shaky cam now would just be insulting!

  95. I always wonder if it *is* Marc Forster’s post-action style. I always hear that the action unit is very separate on Bond movies, and QUANTUM is the only one that used second unit director Dan Bradley – same guy who did the BOURNE SUPREMACY and ULTIMATUM and GREEN ZONE and directed the RED DAWN remake.

    Of course, he’s also done more coherent styles of action, even KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL and that incredible snow sequence in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, so it’s possible/likely that Forster or Eon told him to make it shaky like the BOURNE movies and/or chose him specifically for that purpose.

  96. I’ve blamed Bradley too, but since Forster did the same post-action in WORLD WAR Z I’ve decided it’s his call.

  97. RIP Michael Apted, helmer of my personal favorite Brosnan Bond: The World Is Not Enough

    TWO pre-credits action scenes, a genuinely complex Bond Girl cum Villain, an expanded role for Dench’s M. Pity this doesn’t get more love. And for the record, Denise Richards in tank tops playing a nuclear scientist does NOT negate the film’s many strengths.

  98. I always assumed the directive to use the BOURNE style was passed down directly from the Broccolis. I’d be surprised if anybody has authorial type power on these movies except them. It’s their mom-and-pop hardware store; the directors are just the bored teenagers who work there.

  99. And I agree that THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH is grossly underrated. Still way too damn long. It’s a shame Denise Richards is the only thing anybody remembers about it, because her entire part could be excised and it wouldn’t affect the story at all. I feel like the Broccolis insisted on sticking to the two Bond girls formula no matter what and it ended up sinking the movie.

  100. So, NO TIME TO DIE. What do we think of it? It has the same sombre gravity as the previous two, so if you’re put off by that, adjust your expectations, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Where SKYFALL faltered and failed, this time they got things right.

    My only real complaint is with Rami Malek’s villain. Keeping things vague: He achieves one of his goals about halfway through the movie. After that point, I had only a hazy grasp of what he was trying to do, and no idea at all of why he was doing it. I’m convinced that several scenes were excised or altered due to the ongoing pandemic. There’s been pushback against this idea online, with people insisting that the film was locked down in its present form before the virus really hit. But I haven’t seen much in the way of contrary evidence. This is my solitary COVID conspiracy theory, and I’m very attached to it.

  101. He’s selling poison to dictators, plain and simple. I believe M and Bond describes it as “the usual”.

  102. He obviously has some motive beyond mere profit, and we never find out what it is. It’s unsatisfying, especially given the particulars of this film, that everything is reduced to a throwaway line about attacks on freedom.

    To get a bit more specific — and this gets more spoilerish, though I’ll try not to go much beyond what the trailer reveals — a lot of things make a lot more sense if we suppose that Safin was working with an engineered virus rather than nanobots. The lab where it was developed also works with smallpox. His island base looks much more like a biological facility than a tech-manufacturing plant. And it’s simply much more plausible. Yes, this is a series that featured laser gunfights in space, but the Craig films have tried to move away from that sort of thing.

    The plot gets into gear because Madeleine hasn’t told Bond all her secrets. We do learn one of her secrets, and it’s a big one. I don’t think it matches up too well with what we’re told about those secrets earlier. And the attitude Safin takes toward her at one point seems to come out of nowhere.

    Some of this might just be a script whose third-act problems were never resolved. I mean, we saw that in SPECTRE. But it looks to me like much of the confusion is due to deliberate revisions.

  103. I promise to participate as soon as I’ve seen the movie which only releases here in Malaysia on Nov 25th (assholes!). Until then I see NO TIME TO DIE on any discussion board, I avoid it assiduously like a gas-bag uncle at a wedding who’ll bore you shitless for 20 mins before hitting you up for a loan.

  104. Matt, isn’t that sort of the joke. That we really don’t know what these super villains are up to. They just have to be stopped.

  105. I don’t think so. I mean, certainly that conversation about “the usual” is a joke, but I don’t think that was intended as the end of it. If they were planning to leave him as an inscrutable void, making a meta-filmic point about spy thriller tropes or what have you, then they did it badly. In the movie’s first half we know exactly what Safin is up to, we know why he’s doing it, and maybe we even sympathise a bit. It’s clear what drives him, until suddenly it isn’t.

    This is the big coda to the Craig era — they wouldn’t mean to leave their villain as a cipher. Q is working on finding out exactly what Safin is up to, and then we just stop hearing about it. Safin is anxious to explain himself to Bond and Madeleine, and then he doesn’t. I’m convinced there must have been talk about plague, pandemics, and body counts that got left by the wayside when COVID hit.

  106. For some reason I’ve never figured out James Bond seems to be one of the most contentious subjects to discuss online, so I may well regret this, but my thoughts on NO TIME TO DIE (mild spoilers).

    It’s kind of like two films, somewhat awkwardly smooshed together; a fairly traditional Bond film, which I enjoyed, and a sequel to SPECTRE and kind of conclusion to the “arc” of the Craig Bond films, such as it is, which, aside from the deathly tedious Platinum Dunes FRIDAY THE 13th-length pre-title sequence, didn’t bore me or leave me completely unengaged but I wasn’t really into. It relies on supposed emotional connection to and between many of these characters, which not only has historically (to say the least) not been one of the series strong suits’, but also feels like a stretch for characters who have only had fairly limited screen time over the course of only three films, or in Jeffrey Wright’s case had been mysteriously absent for those same two films. I also think it’s kind of a cheap “stolen valour” move to try and shorthand emotional connections by quoting from the visuals and score of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, although I admit it’s pretty tame recycling by the standards of our “remix culture” and I suppose the majority of people who see this may not know (or won’t remember) that this is a callback. It might strike them as a little more familiar that this is the second in three (and third of six and fourth of ten) Bond films to start with him outside of and re-joining MI6.

    As someone who has somewhat Vernian views of Rami Malek, I was surprised to quite enjoy his presence here, although his character needed a lot more screen time to have the kind of impact they were hoping for. I do unfortunately still find Christoph Waltz to be in the running for the most overrated actor of the 21st Century, and this Hanninal Lector-via-Heath-Ledger-Joker version of Blofeld just doesn’t work for me, not least as they already did a more entertaining and memorable riff on the same kind of schtick with Javier Bardem’s character in SKYFALL. Although I will say the scene with his moving cell is genuinely creepy and unnerving in a way I’m not sure a Bond movie has ever managed to be before.

    I don’t think I’m exactly making an original observation here, but it’s funny, maybe even kind of good in a way, how the Craig Bond films went from somewhat protracted origin to definitive conclusion without ever getting to the bit where he goes on the kind of adventures known to the world from the previous half century of Bond films and novels. It starts off with an origin story that gets very personal, and film two integrates a lot of the personal threads into its main narrative. Film three is the closest any of these come to a straight-ahead mission, but ultimately comes down to something rather small scale and personal, and oddly meta. (Were we always supposed to infer that he’d gone on his own versions of the twenty earlier missions inbetween films? I never quite got what was going on there) Film four retcons and picks up on all the themes we thought had been dropped at the end of film two, and film five follows on from there.

    There’s a lot of talk about how the moral dimension of Bond does or doesn’t fit in with modern sentiments, but I think the main thing that’s gone is the filmgoing culture they were feeding into, building, and sustaining in the 60s and 70s. They were films for people to go see for two hours to escape from their troubles or lukewarm contentment into a world of jet setting glamour. I don’t know if audiences aren’t into that anymore, but I know that’s not how the people paying out 9-digit sums for movies want them to be received any more. They are not to be our escapism, they are to be our new religion, and we need to be emotionally and financially invested in both their past, and any and every path they take in the future. It’s hard to imagine that the next reboot won’t be built from the ground-up with spin-offs for numerous 00s and others seeded into its conception, and I half suspect there will be spin-offs for at least two of the characters here despite its finality. In some ways the Craig films deserve credit for being at the head of this shift, QUANTUM OF SOLACE is more embedded in its previous film than say SPIDER-MAN 2 or even THE DARK KNIGHT, but they’ve also been a little clumsy in trying to catch up when the culture has overlapped them. I can’t say it hasn’t worked, clearly it has on some level for many millions of people, but for me these definitely worked better when they were more or less pure escapism.

    Anyways, this goes out to my boy(?) Dou-Dou, cruelly massacred here and unmourned on screen. R.I.P. little guy.

  107. Pac-Man, I subscribe to Theory that after Casino and Quantum, Dr No through Die Anothet Day happened, then Skyfall. The timeline gets funky because they were made in the modern day when they were made, but aesthetically that feels most right to me.

    I always thought SPECTRE was the closest to a “Bond on a mission” entry. Yeah it has connections and callbacks but narratively he starts out on a mission and ends up in the villain’s lair.

    It’s funny how this franchise has struggled with “is Bond still relevant” since Timothy Dalton really. I hate to break it to people, but super spies didn’t save the world in the ‘60s either. It was always an action hero fantasy and I think it could easily go back to that if they let it, but they’ll probably keep trying to address it. After 30some years of it I suppose that’s as integral to the franchise as pretitle sequences and title songs.

  108. Yeah, I’m not a Bond person so who cares what I think about it, but I would be much more excited if they made them more outlandish. If they must respond to some other popular movie (as they seemed to do with BOURNE), at least do the Bond for the JOHN WICK era. I think Daniel Craig is great, but they lost me by thinking the important thing is to delve into his past and psychology. My friend Matt Lynch *is* a big Bond fan, and I buy his theory that Craig’s run was marred by him being too good of an actor and wanting them to give him more of a character to play.

    (I haven’t seen SPECTRE or NO TIME TO DIE yet but do plan to see them and hope to enjoy them.)

  109. I rewatched SPECTRE preparation for NO TIME TO DIE because I remembered almost none of it and found it to be annoyingly stupid. But I liked NO TIME TO DIE. For whatever my opinion is worth.

  110. “But I would be much more excited if they made them more outlandish.”

    So would I Vern, but let’s not forget, a still hated, often maligned and frequently shat on Bond flick featured a race-swapped Baddie, his albino henchman, an Ice Palace and an Invisible Car.

  111. If they hired 87eleven to do Bond action that would be something.

    I agree, Vern. I loved Casino Royale and liked Quantum of Solace but the idea that Bond’s past is somehow pivotal is so basic. Like people marveled about SPECTRE. What exactly did we learn? He was adopted? He lived in a group home? So, he was like lots of Foster/adopted kids? It’s not that deep.

    It’s really ok to be a guy who goes on missions. It really is.

  112. I feel the same about Batman. I hope the twist at the end of the new one is that he decides it’s cool to be Batman because he’s good at it and it helps people and he’s going to keep it up and try to have a good attitude about it.

    (I love Matt Reeves though and it looks beautiful at the very least.)

  113. There’s just no way to reconcile the Craig-era movies into a coherent timeline with what came before — the Spectre stuff alone makes it impossible. You might as well try to shoehorn CASINO ROYALE ’67 in there. So I’d assume that future films will be in a new continuity yet again. I’m dreading another origin story, but we’ll see.

    I’m as sick as everyone else of the navel-gazing metafiction about Bond’s continued relevance. Does anyone in the audience give a shit? The people who think Bond is an ossified relic of the Cold War aren’t likely to be watching in the first place, and if they do watch, they’re not going to be persuaded by stirring monologues from M. And it gets worse the more “realistic” it is; just as Batman movies aren’t the best vehicle for earnest thoughts on vigilante justice, I don’t need a Bond movie telling me that stoic spies with a licence to kill are the one thing standing between us and barbarity. He murders people, that’s the premise, don’t analyse it.

    But I’m more sympathetic to films about Bond’s “past and psychology,” as Vern put it. Or half of that, at least. I’m not so keen on the “past” part. Nothing intrinsically wrong with it, but with a production team whose idea of clever back story is an evil mastermind foster brother, it might be better to take things in a different direction.

    What’s wrong with psychology, though? Take the three best Bond films — as you’re all aware, those are ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, GOLDFINGER, and CASINO ROYALE ’06 — and two of them focus on psychological drama. And though the first few Connerys don’t give Bond any development arc as such, they’re still marvellous character sketches — think of that moment in THUNDERBALL when Bond pauses to steal a grape. When the Craig films falter, it’s often because they don’t have enough psychology. I’d be less annoyed by the plotting in SPECTRE if Bond and Blofeld seemed like people who’d really grown up together. This doesn’t mean every movie needs to fit like a puzzle piece into an ongoing saga; I want stories about isolated missions too. But you can have character development and a loose continuity and still accommodate all sorts of plots.

    (I’m not thinking of anyone here, but I sometimes see arguments that a lack of psychology is more faithful to the books, which is especially baffling. The books gave us Bond coping with betrayal and suicide from the woman he loved, Bond slipping into alcoholism when his wife is murdered, and Bond trying to reassemble his life after Soviet brainwashing.)

    You know a film I’d like to see, that they’re never going to make? THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, from the novel. No espionage, no high stakes, no international masterminds — just Bond at a motel in the middle of nowhere, protecting a woman from a couple of thugs.

  114. I went on a record as thinking the too-Nolan-y looking direction of THE BATMAN is a waste, and I still think that but I admit the classy person’s PUNISHER:WAR ZONE-look of the last teaser makes me at least want to watch it (I’m sure they’re thrilled). At least it looks like Colin Farrell is being allowed to go mega.

    As for the Craig situation, isn’t it more that he was big mover in trying to make “elevated Bond”, at least in the later films? He’s the only one who ever got a producer’s credit, and it sounds like it was him who really didn’t want to go with Danny Boyle’s more lighthearted, less SPECTRE-sequel-y approach for UNTITLED 2020 BOND MOVIE. Timothy Dalton was, frankly, at least as good an actor as Craig (although his stagey style arguably never completely translated to style and maybe was even a little dated even by the 80s) but I think he saw Bond as a character with a screen and literary legacy worth honouring and perhaps giving a spit and polish, I get the sense Craig saw it more as something that needed updating to something “more sophisticated”, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that was right. At any rate it’s clear the producers love him and would have kept with him until he was 80 if he’d been interested.

  115. Matthew B.- You almost certainly know this but supposedly Fleming was embarrassed by the critical reception of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and gave the rights for the title to be adapted, but not the story. You would think that would no longer be an issue 60 years after his death, but rights can be a funny thing.

    Given that Bond is with Amazon now, and that we’re in the 2020s. I can’t imagine there won’t be some Bond series; maybe one could be a limited run period series based on the SPY WHO LOVED ME novel? And if that’s a success they can do a second season based on Anthony Burgess’s treatment for the SPY WHO LOVED ME film where a radical terrorist group, CHAOS – the Consortium for the hastening of the Annihilation of Organized Society, threaten to nuke the whole of Sydney unless the Queen appears naked on international television.

  116. Pacman: Yeah, I thought about mentioning the rights issue. I imagine they could work something out if they had to — they made an arrangement with Kingsley Amis’s estate for the SPECTRE dialogue taken from COLONEL SUN. You’re right that a streaming serial is the one way I can imagine an adaptation happening, though I was thinking an isolated episode rather than an entire season. Bond doesn’t even show up till halfway through the book; that’s the first thing they’d change.

    I’d love to see Burgess’s script on screen. Season Three of Unseen Bond could be Donald Westlake’s FOREVER AND A DEATH.

    You know what I’m surprised they’ve never really used? MOONRAKER. One of the best novels, and almost none of it has turned up in the movies.

  117. My guess is (if they really did commit to keeping it faithful-ish) they’d get around that by having a flash-forward to a dramatic scene with Bond where it looks like someone is about to be shot or something, fade to black in the middle of it, and start with an on-screen text that says “one week earlier” or whatever. That seems to be a popular device these days.

  118. “I feel the same about Batman. I hope the twist at the end of the new one is that he decides it’s cool to be Batman because he’s good at it and it helps people and he’s going to keep it up and try to have a good attitude about it.”

    Ah, the SEED OF CHUCKY ending. “I’m Batman…and I dig it!”

    Trailer still looks like a parody to me. I keep waiting for Ben Stiller to show up.

  119. Ugh I really hate License to Kill. Wannabe generically gritty and a plot from Death Wish 5.

    87Eleven was mentioned as needing to do a Bond, but I don’t really see any issues with the action. The Craig era has had great action stuff, easily as good. The silhouette fight and the train fight in whichever movies they were in were great, and the stuff in Casino Royale was tops too. And the stuntwork in the new one, wow.

  120. Never had a problem with LICENCE TO KILL the Patti LaBelle songs were the last ones in the entire franchise I liked until the Chris Cornell song (which is the last one I liked period). Then again it’s pretty difficult for me to dislike anything by that woman in her prime.

  121. LICENCE TO KILL is … all right, I guess. It’s more a high-budget Cannon movie than James Bond, and overlong, but once the plot gets going it’s fun watching Bond destroy Sanchez’s operation from within. The truck chase is fantastic.

    It’s also one of the most misogynistic films in the series. Carey Lowell is supposed to be a kick-ass combat pilot, but spends most of the movie pouting like a teenager because Bond’s spending time with Talisa Soto. Soto, meanwhile, gets paired off by Bond with the creepy and probably murderous dictator. Most egregiously, it borrows the Felix Leiter shark attack bit from the LIVE AND LET DIE book – but since his friend’s maiming apparently wouldn’t be sufficient motivation for Bond, the script gives Leiter a new bride to be raped and murdered in the opening minutes. It’s not the first movie I’ve seen with that sort of plotting, but the polished gloss on a sleazy exploitation scene always kind of pissed me off.

  122. Della’s rape and murder is part of a long history of screenplay contrivances that’s convinced only the perpetration of sexual violence truly gets an audience on the side of the hero and eagerly anticipate the Villain’s comeuppance.

    That’s where you get those umpteen action movies where it isn’t enough for your baddies to have robbed a bank and shot 3 innocent bystanders or taken a building full of hostages and executed 2 of them to show they’re not fucking around. At one point, one or more of them need to be potential rapists as well to drive home the point these are really, really BAAAAAAD GUYS.

    Jason Alexander’s yuppie was plenty sleazy in PRETTY WOMAN without that 3rd act sexual assault on Julia Roberts. It wasn’t enough that the Burmese commander in RAMBO had entire villages massacred and made them run across mine-strewn paddy fields for sport. Dude had to be a pedophile too.

    It’s dumb.

  123. “It’s really ok to be a guy who goes on missions. It really is.”

    This..I can get behind 100%

    I’d really like the conversations about the next Bond flick to focus on how much escapist fun it’s going to be without the half a dozen portentous op-ed pieces about how James is “an unfortunate relic of Britain’s Imperial Past” and how past 007 iterations were essentially that of a “sexist, misogynistic rapist”, the latter statement made by the director of the latest installment no less, conveniently forgetting allegations of his own sexual misconduct.

    To quote Colin Firth in KINGSMAN “It’s all gotten rather too serious, I’m afraid”.

  124. If anything Timothy Dalton was to good an actor for director John Glen to handle. In THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS the actors facial expressions were all over the place. And when he had gotten that under control for LICENSE TO KILL, the miserable direction and lacklustre script betrayed him.

  125. Supposedly they weren’t the best of friends, with Dalton dropping out of Glen’s CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: THE DISCOVERY when the latter joined.

  126. I agree everyone talking about the politics of everything constantly has gotten old…but at the same time we’ve basically went along with seeing women get raped and have no characters, or movies that were 100% white for about 100 years. So a few years years of articles I don’t have to actually click on is no big deal to me.

  127. I think I’m gonna regret asking this, or at least being the one to ask this, but I don’t really understand what “basically went along with seeing women get raped and have no characters” means here, or if you’re talking specifically about Bond movies or all movies?

  128. Well that was me obviously overstating things but yeah, look at the history of movies. Obviously there were some good female roles, and they did better in dramas or comedies but it’s hilarious watching flicks with a critical eye and seeing how many of them has the woman be the girlfriend or the one who sort of helps. In genre flicks of the 50s they didn’t do jack shit, and forget seeing a black person. Get to the 80s and if you want some gratuitous nudity in a flick (only females of course) the easiest way was strip clubs or sexual assaults. You even watch an 80s drama or whatever like Mr. Baseball…it’s like time for a sex scene for no reason but to get some tits in the movie. It’s so weird, how many pointless sex scenes have been in crappy movies just so women could get naked? And I got no problem with naked ladies, but watching some of this shit now is pure cringe.

    Bond maybe didn’t get into rapes so much, although the female body count is pretty damn high…came down to did they get fucked and then killed, or did they get fucked and then get to be the arm candy and not do anything useful.

  129. Only thing I’ll say is that I think on literally all, or maybe all but one or two, of the Bond films since film #10 of 25 THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (which opens with one of the great “hmm, I wonder who this cool guy they’re talking about i…WHU, IT’S A WOMAN?!?” scenes) at least one of the leading women on the publicity tour mentioned, coached, of their own volition or somewhere between the two, that their character “isn’t the typical Bond girl, she’s something more”. How many of these proclamations stand up to scrutiny in 2021, make sense in the context of their time or were ridiculous even then is for us to judge.

  130. Oh I loved that. And they didn’t hold up to scrutiny then, much less in modern day. We’d all laugh about the new actress talking about how she was finally the one to hold her own, guessing how useless she would be, and then seeing the movie and watch them not do anything but look good and hopefully do one competent thing.

    Grace Jones had to be a villain to actually come off well.

  131. To say another thing about this film we’re in the thread for, I think it’s underappreciated that they somehow managed to make Walken’s character simultaneously a Nazi, a communist and a greedy capitalist.

  132. Ana de Armas is my favorite female character in possibly the entire Bond series and I wish we’d gotten an entire movie of her. Not even necessarily just her. I loved her and Bond’s interaction and would’ve loved to see their buddy action movie.

  133. I don’t read the articles as the click-baity headings are enough of a poke in the eye

    “Connery’s Bond a Rapist”-Cary Fukunaga

    You have the biggest tentpole releasing, with anticipation at an all time high after frequent delays, how about talking about how big, epic and awesome it’s going to be or how it brings the Craig Era to a Glorious Close? Instead you choose to ride the currently fashionable outrage wave to shit on past iterations of Bond.

    Filter ANY fucking work of art more than a decade old through today’s oh-so-precious prism of sensitivity and it won’t make the cut. I know Tarantino gets shit now, but I predict in a decade all his movies will require an accompanying advisory: Warning! Flagrant use of THAT WORD!

    It would be easier to accept all this hand-wringing if I could detect but a whiff of sincerity in them instead of the stench of smug righteousness. That “Ooo you see how sensitive we are?”

    Please. I’m fairly sure back in 1965, in darkened theatres where THUNDERBALL was screening, there must have been quite a few eye rolls when Bond coerces a nurse to sleep with him else he’d get her fired. They weren’t all insensitive pricks. They just lacked a Twitter handle.

    And finally, I defend all Strip Club scenes in movies as I have it on good authority that the best place to receive confidential information from a snitch or bond with your new partner after a stressful day is in a smoky bar with loud music and at least 2 naked women dancing in front of you. It is apparently also the best place to start a fight.

  134. Within the admittedly limited range they needed to operate in, Fiona Volpe in THUNDERBALL was a stone cold killer and impervious to Bond’s charm. Tracy in OHMSS is a wonderfully complex character. Major Anya Amasova in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was a capable KGB agent and Bond’s equal. Melina Havelock in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY went Lady Snowblood on her parents killers. Octopussy actually ran her own criminal empire. So, not all of them wilting wallflowers but the Connery/Moore era also frequently went the other way, with Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore’s “Gay-to-Straight” conversion after a tumble in the hay and Britt Ekland’s Goodnight, shoved into a closet so Bond could have sex with Maud Adams (in the same room!) particular low points. The coercion of the physiotherapist at the clinic in THUNDERBALL is just flat out terrible in any decade.

  135. I’m really not bothered by think pieces about misogyny in Bond movies. Lord knows it comes up in the comments here often enough. And if Fukunaga makes some offhand comment that gets exploited for clicks by entertainment sites, fine, the marketing guys at MGM can scream at him, but it doesn’t worry me. Just keep that stuff out of the screenplays. It’s not like they’re going to have Bond turn to camera and apologise for stacking Solitaire’s deck of tarot cards. The stern dialogue about sexism, like the dialogue about Cold War fossils, isn’t really about Bond’s character as currently written. It’s about the reputation of the movies themselves. So what’s the point? It just comes off as defensive. If they want the films’ image to change, the best strategy is to write good female characters. (And lately, with the usual caveats about SKYFALL, I’d say they have been.)

    The “not your typical Bond girl” comments are always hilarious, but you can see why the publicists want them – there’s decades of dubious history to push back against, much of it in the movies themselves. It might help if the Eon team didn’t cooperate with all those Playboy and Maxim pictorial spreads, but maybe they know their market better than I do. We’ve really had Not Your Typical Bond Girls since 1964. Pussy Galore helped bring down Goldfinger, didn’t need rescuing, and was five years older than Bond. If only we didn’t have that scene where he forcibly kisses her till she decides she enjoys it.

    (As an aside – I don’t see any basis for calling her character in the film a lesbian. Would anyone say that if it weren’t for the book? She’s not conventionally feminine, but neither was Cathy Gale.)

  136. pegsman: I don’t know, I like Dalton better in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. In LICENCE TO KILL he leans too much on his misty-eyed squint.

    Muh: If you think that women in ’50s genre films “didn’t do jack shit” then you ought to watch more ’50s genre films, maybe starting with Barbara Stanwyck’s filmography. The more common comment I hear is that women’s parts back then were better, at least in terms of high-budget productions from major studios.

  137. It wouldn’t surprise me if Fukunaga’s comments were supported, or even suggested by the studio. It’s not going to stop anyone from buying a 4K 60th Anniversary Mega-Deluxe Restoration of GOLDFINGER, or however they make money off the old movies these days, even backlash is just free publicity and will just lead to another backlash defending the comments, and criticising those objecting. The backlash to Craig’s casting in 2005, might be the earliest, fairly quaint in retrospect, example of online backlash being ridiculed in the mainstream and being leveraged, perhaps not even intentionally, into free advertising for the film; this ain’t their first rodeo.

    My feeling with these annoying clickbaity articles, and I hope I’m don’t come across as condescending or judgemental as this is as much advice for myself as anything, it’s something I struggle with too and will no doubt be proven a hypocrite at some point on these very boards (especially if the ETERNALS discourse around here goes the way I suspect it might…), is that it’s best to just shake your head at them and then move on. Reading the articles/watching the videos reacting to them, and discussing them months or years afterwards, isn’t going to make these kind of articles go away, it’s just prolongs our own irritation.

    Now let’s all kick back and enjoy some Italo Disco

    DJ's Factory - A View To A Kill (Duran Duran Cover)

    From '' A View To A Kill ''Label: Rush Records -- RR 12011Format: Vinyl, 12"Country: GermanyReleased: 1985TracklistA A View To A KillMusic By -- Duran Duran...

  138. The commentary around how there weren’t a lot of “strong women” in movies 30 or 40 years ago not to mention criticisms of earlier Bond Girls stems from the rather contemporary and specious reasoning that they weren’t strong THE WAY WE WANT THEM TO BE STRONG. Which means what exactly? She needs to be an ass-kicking ninja proficient in 4 forms of martial arts and capable of taking on men at least a foot taller and 200 pounds heavier?

    I get a bunch of mixed opinions when I say Tracy in OHMSS (who BTW rescues Bond after his escape from Blofeld’s mountain lair)is a truly amazing Bond girl. Multi-layered and complex but also flawed.

    But everyone and their cousin are in complete agreement that Michelle Yeoh in TOMORROW NEVER DIES is truly Bond’s “Equal”. She is classified as STRONG because she can do EVERYTHING Bond does: Take on a dozen men in close quarters combat, proficient in fire-arms, athletic, resourceful and for the most part, de-sexualized.

    Which is all good. But it begs the question of whether that’s the only template available or acceptable to make the cut as a fully formed female character nowadays?

  139. Well KayKay, we don’t expect ass kicking women in your regular dramas, but in movies where everyone else is an ass-kicker…then yeah why not? No one’s saying they need to be like that in Pretty Woman.

    And in terms of, say, For Your Eyes Only which is the one I know well enough to discuss offhand…it sounds awesome that the woman is a Death Wish killer, doesn’t it? A real badass! But after her first hit, James has to take her hand and run with her (because women don’t know how to run), then she drives but only succeeds at crashing the car, so James luckily takes over and they escape. James saves them from drowning. At the end she only comes face to face with the guy she wants to kill because another guy already kicked the shit out of him. She simply walks up…wow exciting character stuff from the lead female Charles Bronson.

    So she’s the perfect example of the “strong woman” Bond movies had…does A competent thing, then pretty much follows James around.

  140. I recall plenty of male allies in Bond movies who aren’t badasses–Q and M, first and foremost, are never shown to really be capable of punching out a henchman. The guy in Living Daylights was a nebbish. Valentin in Goldeneye and TWINE is imposing, but not particularly fit or even trustworthy.

    But around the time of Skyfall, you do get a Moneypenny that herself is a skilled field agent–just so she can spend the rest of the series sitting at a desk and bantering with Bond, just like Moneypenny always does. It makes you ask what’s the point?

  141. Of course there are going to be plenty of allies who don’t kick ass in a James Bond movie, when 85% of the cast with anything to do are men. No one is saying that everyone’s going to be a ninja. But also Q and M are desk dudes, there to assist missions. And when selling the idea of a female who could hold her own with Bond…maybe have her sometimes do something cool?

  142. This conversation is never going to end, is it? I used to think we were living in a universe of infinite possibility, but now I see the truth. It’s just James Bond all the way down.

  143. I guess the universe is kind of like the STAR TREK films where you can be in an entire alternative dimension but you still just end up remaking WRATH OF KHAN.

  144. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  145. Muh, it would be unreasonable to expect a Bond girl to kick the type of ass Milla does in the RESIDENT EVIL flicks. Hence my statement “within the admittedly limited range they are required to operate in”. There’s not much maneuvering room in the Bond Sandbox. All co-stars need to adhere to the SECOND BANANA COMMANDMENT in big franchises or star vehicles: Thou shalt shine, but thou shall not OUT-shine”. Unless of course you happen to be working with an amazing monument to coolness like Dolph Lundgren who can make a SKIN TRADE and happily cede the best action scenes to Tony Jaa. So the fact that a Melina Havelock can actually take out an assassin with a crossbow during the Moore Era counts as a win for me.

    Saw Renee Russo kicking ass in LETHAL WEAPON 3?…until she gets shot in the climax so Riggs and Murtaugh can do their heroic stuff.

    Saw THE ROCK take on Diesel in FAST FIVE?…until he gets owned.

    Hell Michelle Yeoh’s Way Lin, the most ass-kicking of all Bond girls (once again, excluding NO TIME TO DIE which I haven’t seen) still got captured in the sub and then needed to be rescued from drowning by Bond.

    Any my point isn’t that a woman in an action movie can’t kick ass, but that delivering roundhouse kicks to the head shouldn’t be the sole criteria used to judge her strength. And that applies to male characters too. To Kaplan’s point above, Harris’ Moneypenny can more than hold her own against Bond in strength of character, leadership and resolve. That’s a STRONG woman as far as I’m concerned.

  146. Vince, remember the SKYFALL thread…

  147. How could I forget?

    In some ways, I don’t think we ever left the SKYFALL thread. We’re all still there. We’ve always been there…

  148. KayKay I think you’re not even reading my comments. Notice I more talk about the women’s uselessness more than kicking to the head. They actually set up a story with this revenge seeker in For Your Eyes Only, and instead of her taking on the main bad guy, let the OTHER (male) second banana do it. Bond doesn’t do it. So why not follow the story set up from the beginning?

  149. We are the SKYFALL thread.

  150. Battle not with James Bond, lest ye become a James Bond, and if you gaze into the SKYFALL thread, the SKYFALL thread gazes also into you.

  151. Do you think the SKYFALL thread is like the diaries in that beta-bro classic THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT where if you read them hard enough you go back to the time they were written? Because late 2012 looks mighty tempting from where I’m sitting.

  152. We absolutely must keep the conversation new and exciting when talking about the formula movie from 40 years ago.

  153. I know the SKYFALL thread devolved into an unhinged, mostly (? I really hope) satirical, debate about USA vs the world and Rambo vs Bond, but was that the one where Mouth made the comment, “I can’t hear you over the sound of the American flag on the motherfucking moon.”? I’m not going to try to find it in that monster of a thread, but I think about it at times and it still amuses me.

  154. My favorite Mouth comment was on, I think, the LETHAL WEAPON 4 thread, where Tawdry was lecturing us about anti-Semitism and Mouth said “I’ve killed more anti-Semites than you’ve ever met.”

  155. My buddies Ctrl and F just checked out the SKYFALL thread for me, and it seems like the word “flag” does not appear in any of the 507 comments in that thread, so I don’t think that is the thread, although it looks like Mouth posted an image there at one point that no longer shows up so maybe that could be it?

  156. I don’t remember it being an image, but who knows. I know he said it somewhere in a crazy USA is great debate. Did we have those on more than one thread? Ah, the good old days when we could make outrageous jingoistic statements, even if they were ironic, because our national spirit wasn’t completely broken.

  157. I think Shoot’s antipathy towards the Rambo movies, and debates about whether or not they are taken as a serious icon of American pride or mostly as a joke, was a bit of a running thing for a year or two, so maybe it was in another thread where that came up?

  158. The “American flag” comment was in the thread for THE EXPENDABLES. (Turns out that Bing is a lot better than Google for doing searches through the comments here.) I can believe the argument was spillover from other threads, because the only inciting act there seems to be Pegsman and Shoot’s comment that COMMANDO is better than RAMBO II, which come the fuck on of course it is.

  159. Maj, have you heard from Mouth recently? I hope he’s doing well.

  160. I read your comments just fine, Young Muh Man. If the bug up your ass is that Melina should have been the one to deliver the coup de grace to the baddie, fine, I’ll concede that. It wasn’t a deal-killer for me especially when you got one of the most grounded and breezily entertaining Moore entries especially coming after the ridiculous MOONRAKER (and what a nice name Melina Havelock is, after having endured Holly Goodhead).

    My point is one on expectations. Yours expecting women to be integral and useful to the plot in a franchise during an era when they were expected to be Arm Candy at best and Cannon Fodder at worst. Mine was any Bond Girl rising above the insultingly ineffectual Goodnight in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN or Tiffany Case in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (both, incidentally, clad in only a bikini at the films’ climax).

  161. Intrigued by the eye-rolls and references to the SKYFALL thread, so went and read all 500+ of the comments.

    That’s what happens when you’re one of the newer commentators. Here I am thinking I’m contributing revelatory insights when I’ve basically been refrying old beans.

    That’ll teach me to presume I’m SQUID GAME-ing the discussion when veterans have BATTLE ROYALE-ed the fuck out of it almost a decade ago.

  162. Wrongo…I didn’t say I EXPECTED them to be, just that they’re not, and how funny it is watching Bond movies pretend they are over and over. And the few times they even had a possibility of doing something, they fucked it up. Shit man, Bond barely does anything at the end of For Your Eyes Only, the big hero is Topol, who is introduced more than halfway through that movie.

  163. Have you watched any Bond movie besides FOR YOUR EYES ONLY? Since that seems to be your sole frame of reference so far. Just out of curiosity, what’s your sample size of Bond movies to pronounce Bond Girls don’t do shit “over and over”?

    Fuck, if you’re starting off on a baseline of “This Bond Girl looked like she had the makings of a bad-ass but then just ended up needing to be rescued by Bond”, then we have nothing more to discuss because that’s every freaking Bond girl outside of the Craig Era (which still dipped the odd toe into that hoary trope). Da fuck do you expect? That was the bloody Bond Template. But if the extremely sexist Connery/Moore/Lazenby era managed to give us a Fiona Volpe, Pussy Galore, Tracy Bond and Anya Amasova who in various degrees aided Bond amidst the admittedly large pool of shrinking violets and flat out bimbos, then it’s good enough to counter arguments they “didn’t do shit over and over”.

    And let’s just take FOR YOUR EYES ONLY off the fucking table, because Topol being magnificent and stealing the show is currently the only common ground we have on this topic.

  164. Maggie: I haven’t heard from him in a few months, but as far as I know, he was doing just fine.

  165. All I know is, it seems like the Bond movies aren’t real interested in being Bond movies anymore, instead chasing the storytelling trends of superhero movies and… This Is Us, I suppose; meanwhile, the Mission Impossibles are way better at being spy action movies and they know better than to spend any amount of time on Ethan Hunt’s childhood. Hell, arguably Lashana Lynch’s character is a rip-off of Ilsa Faust.

  166. I’m no expert, but isn’t that Bond’s whole thing? Chasing trends?

  167. No, usually Bond WAS the trend, but every once in a while he jumped on bandwagons too. (LIVE & LET DIE/Blaxploitation, MOONRAKER/Star Wars, LICENCE TO KILL/violent American one man army action movies, CASINO ROYALE/Jason Bourne’s post 9/11 pseudo-realism.)

    But as I said last year in March in this comment section: Personally I think around the 90s they lost everything what made the serious unique and stand out.

  168. It sure sounds like you’re saying Bond’s been chasing trends for literally my entire lifespan.

  169. Eh, I don’t care enough about Bond to try to change your opinion on that, but his movies used to be the benchmark for big spy movies and popcorn cinema in general for something like at least 2 1/2 decades, so that single attempts like “007 goes to Harlem because SHAFT was a hit” or “007 shoots a lasergun in space because STAR WARS is the biggest thing ever” or “007 goes on a bloody killing spree and this time it’s personal because that’s what 80s action cinema was about” shouldn’t be the ones to judge the whole series by.

  170. I don’t think your math quite adds up. It seems to me that the original run of Connery films were influential, but even then they started upping the camp to compete with the Bond parodies. Any way you slice it, there are far more years of copycat Bond than trailblazer Bond.

  171. I leave this analysis to the real Bond experts, but from my knowledge and perspective, every new Bond movie was an event that was at least one or two steps ahead of the others until at least the mid 80s. By then we had Spielberg/Lucas FX heavy blockbusters on one side and Arnie/Sly action movies on the other, so it was a bit hard to stand out for 007, other than by brand recognition.

    But if course every true Bond fan is free to disagree with me here. I’ve seen most movies only once and they don’t hold a special place in my heart.

  172. I think only two of the Moore bonds weren’t spending at least part of their time chasing (then) current film and TV trends on some level, and one of those (the very film we’re in the thread for as it happens) turns derivative of a then seven year old movie. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, I think that’s all part of the fun.

    I think the line of thought may be though, and I’m not necessarily saying I agree or disagree with this, is that while MOONRAKER is obviously cashing in on STAR WARS, it plays much closer to a Bond film than a STAR WARS one, whereas the BOURNE influence on QUANTUM OF SOLACE is almost as hard to deny- though people try!- and some people feel it plays more Bourne than Bond. It’s kind of like, brace yourself, David Bowie taking influence from the New Romantic scene he himself influenced for his early 80s albums, vs like Winger or someone’s grunge album.

    This thread still dominated. Not even a culty new horror film or a potentially politically divisive Scott Adkins film can knock James Bond off his perch. What is this, the entire rest of the world of the past sixty years?

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