Posted on November 19, 2015
My favorite thing ever — and I mean this literally, there is nothing I enjoy more — is when people criticize James Bond movies for any other reason than who played James Bond. What are James Bond movies about? James Bond. That’s why they’re called James Bond movies instead of Thoughtful Interpretations of Worldwide Intrigue and Subterfuge.
The only proper criticism of a James Bond movie is that James Bond wasn’t played by Sean Connery or Daniel Craig (and sometimes Pierce Brosnan). Okay, let me back off on that a bit and just say that the only proper criticism is that a Lazenby or a Moore was involved.
All right, let’s talk about Dalton and Brosnan. It is my belief that both of those actors would have made excellent Bonds. It was the franchise itself that sucked so hard during their tenures that made them look bad.
James Bond is a weird mix of two polar opposites, especially in the books. On the one hand, he’s a sadistic bruiser with a license to kill. Literally. He could shoot you for taking too long at a red light and no one would challenge him on it. But on the other hand, he’s really quite the suave charmer.
The reason Connery and Craig are uniformly and without question or challenge from the internet agreed to be the best Bonds is because they combine those two traits so well. They physically look like bruisers and yet both have the rough good looks and stealthy charm of a real lady killer.
If I could figure out how footnotes work in this Wordpress Theme, I would add a footnote here explaining that I don’t know why someone who is successful at seducing women is called a “Lady Killer” but it probably has something to do with old people. End Footnote.
The biggest sin of replacing Connery with Moore was that Moore took the role too far into the suave zone. He always looked like someone who would rather talk you out of some information than beat it out of you. But his reign as 007 also coincided with what appeared to be a lack of faith in the franchise at the producer level. For some reason, right when the world was actually dealing with international terrorism on a scale only Ernst Blofeld could have imagined, they decided Bond was to be mostly played for laughs.
They tried to get serious again when the role went to Dalton and then to Brosnan but by that time they were so indebted to all the in-jokes and legacy story elements that they really couldn’t get out of their own way. This, of course, culminated with the ridiculous invisible BMW.
James Bond movies are not about gadgets as so many people like to claim. They are about James Bond. And the more gadgets they came up with, the more stupid 007 looked.
Moon buggy race, anyone? Metal mouthed giant?
Here’s another footnote: The funniest gadgets ever were the exploding cuff links from one of the Flynt movies. Flynt was terrified he would accidentally drop one and blow himself up. Every time he heard a siren throughout the film, he’d quickly check to make sure both cuff links were still there. End Footnote.
So what changed? Why is Casino Royale considered by everyone who has and has not seen it to be the greatest of all the Bond movies?
Daniel Craig himself had an interesting take on that while being interviewed on the @nerdist podcast: Austin Powers. They had to stop, rewind and reinvent the character because Mike Myers had so perfectly deconstructed the whole Bond Movie Mythos in his spy movie send-ups that they literally had to distance themselves from their own material.
Are there problems with Spectre? Yes. Absolutely. Why take so long to introduce Ernst Blofeld? Why retcon his relationship to Bond? Spectre, an organization that the film is actually named after, appears on screen for about three minutes. WTF?
But who cares? The real answer is: Daniel Craig played James Bond which means the movie is flawless.
And the real question isn’t what was wrong with Spectre, it’s what will they do now that Craig is retiring? This is an opportunity that will not present itself again. The franchise owners must seize the initiative now or forever regret their lost chance at greatness.
What’s the big idea?
Retcon the whole series so that James Bond is not a person, but a designation for whoever is currently occupying the position of 007. That means that all of the movies and all of the Bonds exist in the same universe. When the Bond played by Connery retired, they hired a new man whose name we don’t know, to step up and become James Bond 007 and so and so on.
This would give us the chance for one scene in one movie with all the Bonds having martinis together in one room. Mind blown.
Let me rush in here to say that this is not my idea. I’m not sure if it came from Max Landis or if it’s one of those memes that is burped out and infinitely regurgitated by the restless mind of the internet, but I heard it from Landis during his extraordinary interview on the @nerdist podcast. I’ve talked about that interview before. It’s amazing. Go find it and listen to it before you judge me.
Who thought of it’s not important. What’s important is that Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig are all still alive. This is the one chance we have to make this universe whole.
Someone get me a Broccoli on the phone!