Thursday, November 13, 2008

James Bond, RIP

I saw a very good action film last Sunday. It was called Quantum of Solace.
Before the film, I was led to believe that this was the latest in the James Bond series but evidently that was not correct.

In the opening scenes, the hero (in an Aston Martin) evades three villainous cars behind him in a breathtaking display of vehicular stunts over a rugged terrain. At the end of the adrenaline pumping sequence, he opens the boot of the car to reveal an abducted man and says, "Time to get out".
In another scene, a beautiful Secret Service agent tells our hero that if he tries any funny business, she would have him chained and jailed. In response, the hero smiles and says, "we will see about that." His companion almost prods him - "Does she have handcuffs?" And our hero laboriously says, "I am banking on it."


Does anybody among the producers and directors even know what James Bond stands for? Is it only having gigantic sets, orchestrated car crashes and killing megalomaniacs intent on world domination?
If I wanted to total a desert hideout of a villain, I would employ Schwarzenegger and a machine gun. If I wanted to kill millions of enemy soldiers, one Stallone is more than enough. Jumping over buildings is something Vin Diesel does in his sleep. Hell, if I wanted to disintegrate Pakistan, there is always Sunny Deol and his hand pump.
But when James Bond kills a villain with a spear gun, I don't expect him to stop there and gasp for breath. I expect him to say, "I think he's got the point." And then, maybe adjust his tux.
Or when he electrocutes a villain, he finds it "Shocking, positively shocking."
This is why I go to see a Bond movie.

Bond is supposed to terminate mega-villains. Effortlessly. He is supposed to have a gun (a smart Walther PPK, not an ugly machine gun) in one hand and a stunning woman draped on the other. He is supposed to know about the finer things in life. And he has to - has to, has to - have a sense of humour.
Also, if the stunning lady has a stunning name, it will be kinda cute!

So you have Pussy Galore. Holly Goodhead. Plenty O'Toole. Xania Onatopp. May Day. Honey Rider.
And you have Dr Christmas Jones (in The World is Not Enough) about whom Bond famously remarked during an intimate encounter, "And I thought Christmas comes only once a year..."
In Quantum (probably for the first time in the history of Bond movies), the real name (Olga Kurlyenko) of the actress playing the Bond Girl was more exotic than her screen name (Camille). And in an act of supreme sacrilege, a second girl is steadfastly referred to as Agent Fields. Only in the titles is it mentioned that her full name is actually Strawberry Fields.
Bloody hell!
Of course, when Craig kisses her back in an allegedly passionate scene, he does it the way people taste pasta sauce off a very hot ladle. If he is supposed to be charming by just flashing his eight-pack (or is it sixteen-pack?) abs, then somebody has very wrong ideas about the series.

Bond is supposed to be a little heartless about women.
In Tomorrow Never Dies, he left Paris (the girl, not the city!) for several years after going out by saying, "I'll be right back." He had just one love story - when he married Teresa in On Her Majesty's Secret Service - and he is supposed to be a suave rake all through.
To show a person who is grieving for his dead girlfriend for two movies, you need to have Hugh Grant who can mumble and stutter through his non-existent one-liners.
For heaven's sake, Bond got over his wife's death in half a film.

Bond villains are supposed to be big enough.
They try to rob an entire country's gold reserves. They attempt to start wars between superpowers. They try to siphon off billions of barrels of oil. They make off with satellites and nuclear bombs.
And in Quantum, we have a villain who looks like our Engineering Mechanics professor from college and whose ambitions are not any higher. I am not divulging the apparent ambitions of Dominic Greene to avoid spoilers but either I misunderstood the plot or a self-respecting MLA from UP has larger designs than him.
Where is Goldfinger's son? Or Dr No's surviving henchman? Can they please come back and try to assassinate Barack Obama on January 20th?

Dear Producers of Bond Movies -
Do you even realise why we like to see Bond movies? Because he is a childhood hero. He does EVERYTHING that we can never do. Smart guns. Snazzy cars. State-of-the-art gadgets. Stupendous looking women. Unbelievably powerful villains. And he handles all of them so bloody well. We can never do any of this and therefore, we look forward to the escapism of two hours.
Maybe this Bond film (thanks to the absolutely brilliant marketing and PR) will just shovel in the dough by getting millions of women and Van Damme fans to see something they want to see. But for little boys in their mid-30s, it is the loss of yet another childhood hero.
As if that was not enough, even Sachin may retire in another couple of years...

For some convoluted reason understandable to only ladies and Ross Geller, Daniel Craig never says the signature line in the film. Before I saw the film, it was a bit disappointing to know that the iconic line would not be there.
Now, I feel it is a blessed relief. Because the handsome man in the tuxedo could have been anybody in the world but not Bond, James Bond.


Artnavy said...

well said
am yet to see it- plan to catch it on DVD whenever

Nilendu said...

I don't get why you are so upset with this one. Just came back after watching it -- loved it. It could have been 20 minutes too short, however. The Bond Chick was awesome, well tanned and great in action scenes. Bolivian desert was an ultra-cool locale for the action stuff and the brief chat with Felix the CIA dude was perhaps the best ever exchange of the duo.

Rock on Broccoli folks! Cannot wait till 2010.

Dipta Chaudhuri said...

@ Nilendu: Even I liked the film. Except that it was not a Bond film.

Might as well look forward to Rocky VII.

Nilendu said...

Dude. Presidents change, PMs change, Cricket Captains change. So do themes and packaging of popular characters. Feluda starts using cell phones, Batman uses hi-tech garage and Nakshatra changes its "ambassador". Lame puns and wiping off crumbs from Tux were getting stale anyways. Daniel Craig has brought an entire new set of audience to James Bond. Guys who do WII, guys who do Beer (than Scotch), guys who dig Its the guys who changed. James Bonds' was a mere after effect.

the mad momma said...

well your beloved pal agrees. in pretty much the same words. he watched it and said - The Bond is dead.

and then complained abt the lack of lines and fancy thingummies. argh. no wonder you are friends. blech

i dont care. i just went to watch daniel craig.i came home happy

Rimi said...

I find it very interesting that you put these two phrases in such close conjunction with the other:

"He does EVERYTHING that we can never do...stupendous looking women".

I would like to know what the partners of men of your ilk (for example, The Mad Momma) think of this coincidence.

(I'm reading a lot of Freud this week. Plus I was always beshi paka)

spiderman! said...

Exactly my thoughts. Could not have put it better into words.

Nilendu said...


The operating keyword there was -stupendous looking "women".

We DO cavort with very exciting, great looking, intelligent, that-we-won't-exchange -for-even-Laetitia-Casta -- WOMAN.

But then you deal with singular.

Closing eyes - a big warm mud-bathtub - a few of them-- etc etc. Serial or parallel. That's one big thing about James Bond that hits right at the point.

James Bond movies or "Toorko Haaremer Bondini" -- we search for that world inside.

Dipta Chaudhuri said...

@ MM: Check if OA has a mole on his right shoulder. No? Even I don't. That confirms that he and I are long lost brothers.

@ Rimi: The correct word is 'berey paka' ;-)

@ Nilendu: I was wondering what appreciation of puns has got to do with 'new age' men and action films of their choice. So I went to and found this link...
Just in case I forgot to say this earlier, QoS is NOT a Bond film.

Rimi said...

Nilendu--*good* save. I am dead impressed.

Dipta--accepted :-) (jodio paka howar boyesh amar onekdin chole gaechhe)

Nilendu said...

I still don't get it. I have started loving Craig as Bond. Yeah, he is not "sensitive", does not crack smooth pun etc. He is a bit brooding, but totally a man of action. Perhaps carries a bit of conscience too. Last week they were showing one of toupee wearing Sean Connery's Bonds. I am so thankful we have Craig now.

Oh BTW, as you almost always agree popularity is the ultimate measure of success -- Solace procured $70M at box office last weekend here in US. Do you understand what $70M at this economy means? We all went to theater knowing fully well Fidelity is laying off another 3K and CITI (with its Indian CEO) another 55K. We came out very happy.

Dipta Chaudhuri said...

Sigh... Craig is not sensitive? He is brooding over his dead girlfriend for two movies now. Did you even read what I wrote?
I guess this is your McCain-Mamta syndrome working here. Oppose for the heck of it.
Let us agree to disagree from here...

Nilendu said...

Pierce Brosnan was a "Pretty Boy". Craig resurrected the series.

Urv said...

Very aptly put. It was a good film but not a Bond film..

//little boys in their mid-30s

:D make that mid-20s too please.. specially for the line that follows..

Anonymous said...

I totally, absolutely, completely and wholeheartedly agree. It was a reasonably okay film but as a Bond flick....naaaaaaaah! Very disappointing. I want my Bond back. Someone replace the monkey, please.

Anonymous said...

Came across your blog today...sorry about this but I liked the debate more :)
Adding to it, even I didn't liked the film. In the film I missed all that u have written and also the background music of James bond during the action scenes. But then, did we had any action scene of Bond movies level?