I just saw the new movie, Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig, and I really enjoyed it. It was fun and exciting, with great stunts and high production values—hell, the film even had a main character named James Bond.
Too bad, Casino Royale isn’t a real Bond flick.
Why isn’t Casino Royale a real Bond flick?
Sure, the lead character is named James Bond, but that alone doesn’t make a movie a real Bond flick (see Never Say Never Again—or better yet, don’t). Tragically, the latest Bond movies are fast becoming indistinguishable from the equally entertaining “Transporter” series starring equally British tough guy, Jason Statham. In fact, while the Broccolis think there have already been 21 or 22 Bond films, there have really only been about six: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds Are Forever.
In short, the Sean Connery ones. And not because I think Sean Connery is the best Bond. Frankly, I don’t care who the actor is. No, there have only been 6 real Bond flicks because most of the scripts lack the requisite Bond-ness to qualify. But before I get to defining that, I want to point out what should be obvious to the producers, but is apparently not:
Bond films are, at their core, male fantasies.
They are the guy-equivalent of a cheesy Harlequin romance novel, only without wasting as much paper. Or one of those romantic movies that in no way realistically represent male/female interaction. Bond movies aren’t supposed to be real or believable.
And the scriptwriters should stop trying to make James into a 3-dimensional, flesh-and-blood character. If guys want depth and introspection—say, to make a girl think we’re deep and introspective— we’ll watch Ordinary People.
Bond flicks are action pictures, not navel-gazing character studies.
Bond represents the quintessential/archetypal masculine persona in its most idealized form. He’s good-looking, strong and silent. Bond is driven only by instinct and self-preservation; devoid of complex emotions. In fact, he possesses the only two essential male emotions: Horny and Killing.
As the ultimate ubermensch, his feats and actions are beyond what ordinary men could ever achieve. Like making beautiful enemy spies who want to kill him fall in love with him instead. Or defusing a bomb with exactly 0:07 seconds left on the clock. Or jumping a speedboat off a ramp.
Bond doesn’t care about collateral damage to fruit stands.
During such acts, he doesn’t care if he kills an innocent bystander (he does have a license for that, you know). He’s not worried about his insurance rates, or finding a babysitter for Saturday night. He doesn’t care whether he’s creating a “hostile work environment,” or worry about getting sent to HR for sensitivity training. Bond does what he has to in order to get the job done. Period.
And imagining ourselves possessing that kind of power and freedom is the true appeal of Bond films. Modern men can’t do those things (without also doing jail time, anyway). That’s the fantasy: Doing whatever the hell you want, shooting anyone who looks at you funny, scoring with hot chicks, and getting paid big bucks for it.
And that’s where Hollywood keeps screwing up. So, in an effort to improve future Bond movies, I offer the Broccoli family this helpful checklist.
To be a real Bond flick, the film MUST have the following features:
- An ambitious super-villain. Bond should only be called in to fight a guy/girl that poses a global threat—space-based nuclear missiles or satellite lasers at a minimum. You don’t call 007 in for Columbian drug lords with an Uzi or two. Hell, send Rambo after that guy; Bond has better things to do. If the Army, or heaven forbid, the cops, could do the job, you don’t call a Double-0. Gotham PD didn’t use the Bat-Signal every time some old lady shoplifted tins of cat food, did they? No. You keep 00-Seven under wraps in some paradise screwing Caribbean girls until you find him a worthy adversary who ominously pets a white cat for some reason—an adversary who doesn’t work alone.
- Henchmen. Every truly evil Super-villian needs a few mindless drones, incapable of independent thought (kinda like how Dick Cheney needs Bush). These stooges serve, basically, as ‘body-count’ for Bond after he gets his mitts on semi-automatic firearms. Henchmen are anonymous “extras,” not real characters with tragic flaws due to unhappy childhoods. I don’t care how Jaws got his metal teeth, or that his violent streak comes from not having a father figure as a child. All I need to know is that he’s a bad guy and, frankly, metal teeth are all the back-story I need.
- A bitchin’ lair. Bond super-villains need hang-outs that you won’t find in your local Homes & Land magazine. I’m talking about crazy, rising-out-of-the-sea condos, volcano-based duplexes, or lunar-orbiting tudors. You know, up-and-coming neighborhoods.
- Women (plural). Bond MUST bed at least three UNBELIEVABLY attractive women per movie, two of whom will get killed shortly after having sex with Bond (or possibly even during). The least “hot” (but cutest and smartest) woman will survive for the sole purpose of having one last sexual encounter with James while the end credits run. None of these ridiculously stunning women can be considered “love interests” for one simple reason.
- Sex. Bond only has sex. He is a licensed killer and CANNOT fall in love with a woman without putting her life in jeopardy and making himself vulnerable. Remember On Her Majesty’s Secret Service? Bond falls in love, gets married and then, on his way to the honeymoon, she gets all shot up—lesson learned. That’s the 007 downside; he can never fall in love. As a side benefit, that lack of human connection and emotional closeness ensures that Bond keeps his edge. Sure, one day he’ll snap and shoot up a schoolyard full of preteens, but then “M” can just have him taken out by a younger, less psychotic 007. It’s the circle of 007 life.
- Gadgets. People think the gadgets are important, but they’re not. They’re just “get out of impossible predicament” cards. Unless the gadgets are super-amazingly-cool, they’re just plot devices that let the screenwriters get back to the business of drinking their lives away. With one notable exception:
- An Aston Martin. It is Bond’s only critical gadget. Notice I didn’t say, “A car”? That’s because it absolutely MUST be an Aston Martin. No other car says, “I’m a Brit, eh what?” with that funny Monty Python accent. (Except maybe Jaguar, but any schmuck can afford one of those…) And the car must be invisibly pimped, tricked and just plain stuffed with every weapon imaginable, short of one that fires killer bees.
- Calmness. James Bond doesn’t run. Ever. Because running implies a lack of quick thinking, resourcefulness and/or planning; three things that will quickly get a 007 killed. Bond uses his muscles, wits or, in a pinch, Q-gadgets to pull his ass out of the fire at the last minute. Believable? Rarely, but remember, this is a fantasy. Don’t overthink it.
So there you have it, the eight characteristics of a real Bond flick. If you know Albert B. or any of the folks at Danjac, LLC, tell them to read this. I’d love to see a movie again that lives up to Ian Fleming’s original conception of a one-dimensional, sex-crazed, killing-machine named, Bond. James Bond.