Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bond as Loser


When Quantum of Solace had released, I had mourned the death of Bond. While some agreed with my contention that Bond needed to be a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur", people felt the more (physically) rugged, more sensitive, less articulate avatar of Bond was better suited (pun not intended) for the new age.  

According to my minuscule mind, a James Bond movie has to unfurl in the following way:
1. A context-free action sequence (mandatorily involving a chase in an exotic location) in which Bond saves day and ends with a punchy one-liner 
2. Revelation of nefarious plans of a megalomaniac seeking world domination 
3. Briefing, kitting up and arriving at exotic location ending with introduction of the 'Bond girl' and an initial skirmish with the villain's henchmen (where Bond wins on points, not a knockout)
4. Revelation of the end-game plans, enabled by active use of arms, ammunition and gadgets 
5. Final showdown at villain's lair, leading to its destruction and triumphant closing with Bond getting into a clinch with the girl 
(Oh, there is also the Bond song. That was done wonderfully this time.) 

In many ways, a Bond film is a Bollywood film. However, it needs to update itself with new technology, new issues and new contexts. When one sees the Sean Connery films now, the gadgetry is cringe-inducing and the politics of the villain (SMERSH, for example) is outdated. However, the character of Bond endures as does the OTT-ness of the villains.   

To bring in the audiences, the new-age additions have to be made. 
Make Q younger and more smart alecky. Mock the pen-bomb silliness. Update the politics. Bring in YouTube. Make Bond useless with a Walther PPK but great with a hunting rifle. But for God's sake, make him a hero and not a mere protagonist. 

In Skyfall, Segments 1, 2 and 3 happen somewhat satisfactorily though the opening sequence doesn't end with Bond's triumph but it kind of merges with Segment No 2 (where a crisis is precipitated). Segments 3 and 4 tick off all the boxes but Bond remains rather subdued in all of it. When all Bond does to catch a villain is to switch on a GPS locator and MI6 commandos do the rest, then you are not modernising him but changing him into a handsome Q. 

I loved the fact that the final showdown did not happen in the villain's lair but in Bond's own backyard. But I have a serious, serious issue with the climax. And that is the point of this post. 

Dear Mr Mendes and fans of Mr Mendes - 
You have gone on and on about Bond suddenly becoming real, the character becoming more contemporary and the overall series getting heft and depth. But have you considered the following? 
The villain's objective was to kill M. And he succeeded
Did you realise this? Did you even notice - in between your breathless celebration of Craig's hunk factor - that Bond actually failed in Skyfall? All his Home Alone antics came to a gigantic naught because the villain killed the woman who was Bond supposed to protect. Without getting into the need for the villains to have goals crazier than killing the MI6 boss, the bottomline was that Bond couldn't stop a toothless computer hacker. 
Is this the new Bond? A loser? 

By all means, modernise the series. Make Bond grapple with new things, new problems, a new world. 
But please, please, please don't turn him into a Lester Burnham. 


Diptee said...

I loved the movie... But i also agree that killing M was just not done. :|

Anonymous said...

LOL! Loved your last line and reference to Lester Burnham. I didn’t mind getting Judi Dench killed off. The whole movie was focusing on the change of guard theme, with a new Q and new M and God knows what other letters. And I rather like Ralph Fiennes so I’m very pleased with the ‘New & Improved’ M.

small talk said...

complete waste of a movie... if the director does not get bond's DNA, what do you do?