Regardless of how many adult die hard James Bond fans there are in existence – and there are many – we don’t go to the movies as much as our younger pop culture consumers. Everyone’s favorite British Secret agent was getting a little long in the tooth and falling further and further off the radar of today’s popcorn munching demographic. I thought Brosnan did an excellent job as James Bond, but when he told the Broccoli’s he wasn’t coming back for another round after Die Another Day – I expect Barb saw the handwriting on the wall and knew that more drastic measures were called for if the franchise were to continue into a fifth decade.
Silhouette of Violent Impending Death
Enter Mr. Daniel Craig. Initially, although I’ve been a fan since I first noticed him in Road to Perdition, I didn’t like him for the next James Bond. This was only because one of my personal favorites, Eric Bana, was also being considered for the role. To say that things have worked out for the best would be a severe understatement. Admittedly my judgment was clouded on the matter and they could not have selected a better man for the re-imagining and reboot of one of the most successful, prolific and sacred movie franchises in human history.
My point and do I have one? After first seeing the 22nd Bond film, Quantum of Solace almost a week ago, I have read a slew of State-side reviews and they all not-so-cleverly compare the flick to a modern action franchise that has become the standard by which all others are measured – and rightfully so. “The name is Bourne. Jason Bourne.” I can accept this to a point, but many people that find the pint-sized Matt Damon completely believable as the rouge agent are absorbing this comparison hook, line and sinker.
It’s important to remember a few things before daring to mouth the word “ripoff“. The Bond films are a business, and no matter how strong their history or fan base – if they cease to make money they will cease to be made. That would be a far bigger tragedy than having to tweak the formula to attract the modern-day wallets. It is possible to please both sides of the theater aisle, and this weekend’s 70 million dollar U.S. opening is a testament to that fact. It can be done, and it has been done. Well… done.
The other talking point reviewers are parroting this weekend, however, is that the new movie is a step back for the new Bond. Again, I have to bring you folks back down to reality (my reality, anyway). Royale was a very tough act to follow but Solace was also required to be a very different movie. It’s the first Bond film to ever continue the plot of the previous one, and that plot is easily summed up in one word: revenge. The Bond we already understand to be the most ruthless, thuggish and brutal since Connery rocked the tux wants the asses of those responsible for the death of Vesper.
The very first scene of the movie is a heart-stopping, hairpin car chase through the mountains of Italy, during which many of Quantum’s (S.P.E.C.T.R.E. for the new millennium,) goons are dispatched into the next life – and the action rarely slows down for the duration. The subtle set up, character development and tie-ins to Fleming’s world were already established in Casino Royale, creating the bridge from Brosnan to Craig – and now it’s clobberin’ time.
Although I definitely bemoan the absence of John Cleese’s Q, Judi Dench and Jeffery Wright are on hand and effective as M and Felix. There is one other “character” from the Bonds of yester-year that is noticeably absent. The uber-villain. I don’t need to see white cats, boomerang hats and stainless steel dentistry in every film, but we’ve got to do a bit better with the main nemesis’ in these otherwise wonderful reboots. So far we’ve had a twitchy Frenchman with a penchant for knots and a slightly grumpy, bug-eyed environmentalist, also French. I’d like the first scene of the next script to read something like this:
INT. ORBITING SPACE STATION – TIME OF DAY IRREVLEVANT BECAUSE IT’S FRIGGING SPACE
Cigarette smoke and Russian dialect fills the control room. From the vantage point of a CAGED PRISONER, we see TWISTED FUCK BENT ON WORLD DOMINATION enter through an automatic door with a visible limp, metallic hand and boa constrictor around his neck.
I don’t need cufflink darts, tuxedos or Lotus Esprits. I do need a British protagonist who is also a semi-sadistic womanizing thug and a villain with some sort of mental illness and the potential to give young children nightmares. I hope we can compromise on those points, Barbara Broccoli – but otherwise, fantastic job thus far. I am drinking a second huge martini of relief.