Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

Previously on Never Say Never Again: James Bond refused to let a silly thing like a hotel bombing put a damper on his sexytime plans. We learned there’s nothing hotter than being naked and getting felt up by some random fifty-year-old dude in a bad toupee. Bond was very nearly killed by a video game, but luckily, that game wasn’t Gravitar, because he surely would have died of boredom.

Cut to Bond and Domino in a large ballroom, about to have that dance that Bond just paid $267,000 for. Specifically, they’re about to dance the tango, and there’s even a huge crowd of rich people gathered to watch.

As they dance, they whisper to each other, and Domino is trying to figure who Bond is and what he’s up to. Bond eventually tells her that despite her brother Jack being in the Air Force, he’s actually working for Largo. He then twirls her away from him and casually says, “Your brother’s dead.” Classy move, James. Next, they’ll do the cha-cha, so he can tell her that her dog just got run over!

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

He commands her under his breath to “keep dancing” as he explains that Jack was “used and then eliminated” by Largo. Domino is looking pretty distraught as they dance, as well she might, and the crowd looks a little concerned. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell.

The article continues after these advertisements...

On a balcony above, Largo and Fatima look on. Largo is ready to give Fatima another chance to kill Bond, and “this time, you’d better not fail.” Fatima goes to grab his face, but then he calls her “Number 12”, and she just walks away, looking like she’s struggling not to laugh. I guess you had to be there.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

Fatima walks down the stairs, being the crazy lady she is the whole way down, dancing and throwing her hat away and shaking her hair and humming to herself. Meanwhile on the dance floor, Largo abruptly pulls Domino away from Bond, and orders an end to the tango. He compliments Bond’s dancing skills, and then invites him to the yacht for lunch tomorrow. Domino says this doesn’t work for her, because she’s supposed to pick up her brother tomorrow, but Largo lies that Jack called to say he would be late. Bond gives Domino a knowing look.

Oh hey, remember that guy in the storage closet with the alleged gyroscopic bomb, who thought he would blow up if he moved? I sure didn’t, but here he is, still holding the thing. Bond pops in long enough to grab it and thank the guy for holding onto it, and exits. The guy passes out, and then we get the expected punchline when Bond opens up the “bomb” and pulls out a cigar.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

Bond returns to the villa. It seems to be dawn already, and the way this is shot, you can tell he has a not-so-great surprise in store for him. He grabs an apple off a table, and munches away as he climbs an M.C. Escher-esque staircase. A window suddenly bangs shut, and downstairs, a shadowy dark-haired figure runs past the camera.

Bond calls out for Nicole, but she doesn’t respond, for reasons that are quickly becoming obvious. Nevertheless, Bond wanders around some more looking for her. There’s more exciting apple-eating action as he stands at a bedroom door. He finally gets suspicious, and puts his apple down by impaling it on a golden statue of a Hindu goddess (Kali?). Well, now you’ve really pissed off the movie gods, Bond.

He draws his pistol and heads into the bedroom. He pulls back the sheet on what I think is supposed to be a waterbed, but looks more like a bathtub or a pool table filled with water. In a jarring edit, we get a shot of Nicole, dead and face down in the water.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

Cut to a familiar pair of stilettos click-clacking down the stairs. Bond runs after her to some fast-tempo jazz, and spots Fatima hopping into her car and driving off. So Bond runs into the garage, and unties that very special trailer we saw back at the airport, revealing a motorcycle.

Bond puts on a helmet, but keeps his tux on, and then we see his stunt double on the bike, roaring out of the garage. Bond even pops a wheelie, because… well, you know. Wheelies are cool.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

And so begins a high-speed chase down winding roads, as Bond’s souped-up Yamaha tries to overtake Fatima’s red R5 Turbo. Fatima speeds on, nearly colliding with the obligatory truck carrying long, metal tubes. Why is there always a truck in movie chase scenes carrying long, metal tubes? Do these tubes have any actual purpose, or are they specifically for causing scary-looking near-crashes?

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

Bond nearly collides with the truck, and has to slide his bike underneath it. Bond is then able to ride his bike up and down some steps, and he eventually catches up with Fatima. As they speed through a town, two other cars join the pursuit. Fatima gets on a walkie-talkie to the other drivers. “Don’t touch him, he’s mine!” And Fatima doesn’t like sloppy seconds!

They all enter a tunnel, and suddenly Bond is cornered. A large truck and a few cars block the path, and the two drivers who were chasing him get out, wielding a crowbar and a chain. These guys do realize that British secret agents are allowed to carry guns, right? Is someone going to bust out the nunchucks next?

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

“Don’t ever come to this leather bar again!”

Finally, a guy with an actual gun comes along, and motions for Bond to drive up a ramp and into the truck’s trailer. Bond obeys, and then they close up the ramp behind him. Given how slowly they’re closing the ramp, you can kind of see where this is going. Naturally, Bond takes advantage of how they’ve kindly given him what’s basically a stunt ramp, and burns rubber and goes flying over all his would-be captors’ heads.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

The chase is back on. Fatima calls one of her men an “imbecile!” while Bond pops a wheelie coming back out of the tunnel. And now Bond’s bike is between two of the bad guys’ cars, so Bond punches a button on his super-secret spy bike dashboard. Actually, he’s got three buttons: one red, one yellow, and one blue. The blue button seems to lower some kind of attachment behind his rear tire, but I have no idea what that does. Then he pushes the yellow button, which causes some other kind of attachment to swing out. This also appears to do nothing.

A long last, he pushes the red button, and I don’t know why he didn’t just push that one in the first place, because this is the only that seems to do something: flames shoot out of the back of his bike, and Bond goes rocketing up and over the car in front of him.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

After he jumps the car, the driver slams on his brakes for no reason. He gets bumped by the car behind him, which some way or another sends him plowing into a parked car, causing a spectacular crash. The car that was behind him also crashes, even though the driver could have easily hit the brakes or just turned a little to avoid them. I wonder if perhaps the driver fell asleep. Maybe he was watching this movie.

Bond continues to pursue Fatima’s car. He hits the Rocket Button again, and goes flying across a marina. I’m pretty sure the filmmakers thought the rocket-powered motorcycle would be as popular and memorable as Bond’s jetpack in Thunderball. And maybe it’s just me, but isn’t the dashboard the last place you want to put the bike’s Rocket Button? I mean, Bond actually has to take his hand off the handlebars and is unable to steer while being blasted forward by a rocket-powered engine. But hey, what do I know about designing super-secret spy motorcycles?

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

Bond then follows Fatima through an archway, and ends up inside some sort of waterfront warehouse. But soon he’s lost Fatima, and then a metal gate slides shut, trapping him inside. He motors around for a while, when suddenly something that looks like the mast of a sailboat swings out, and knocks Bond flat on his back.

He loses his helmet, and Fatima jumps out of nowhere, holding him at gunpoint. While Bond is still sprawled out on the ground, she forces him to hand over his gun. She then tells him, “Spread your legs.” Hey, that’s his line!

Fatima says he’s “quite a man”, but as it so happens, she’s “a superior woman!” She asks him to guess where he’s going to get the first bullet, and he knows with her “hatred of men” that he’s going to get it right in the nuts. Being the crazy lady that she is, she silences him with, “You know that making love to Fatima was the greatest pleasure of your life!” Bond, never one to let a gun in his face get in the way of a good one-liner, quips, “Well, to be perfectly honest, there was this girl in Philadelphia…” Someone give that man a rimshot!

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

She yells at him again to shut up and says, “I am the best!” Bond just humors her, saying he’s going to put her in his “memoirs” as “number one”. So she makes him prove it. She picks up a random piece of paper off the ground and tosses it at him, and orders him to “Write!”

He goes along with this, while of course pulling out Q’s pen with the Union Jack flag on it. You might have a pretty good idea of how this is going to end, but anyway, Fatima dictates the note to him. She wants him to write down that “the greatest rapture in my life was afforded me in a boat in Nassau by Fatima Blush! Signed, James Bond, 007!” Yeah, I’m not sure what her end game is here. Does she just want some kind of memento from the time they boned?

Unfortunately, Bond still thinks he’s in a comedy club working on his routine. “I just remembered, it’s against service policy for agents to give out endorsements!” Geez, Fatima, at least shoot off one of his feet or something. Anything to make him stop with the one-liners.

At long last, he fires the “pen” at her, and then immediately ducks out of way to avoid getting shot. Fatima sees that the pen has barely hurt her, and starts laughing maniacally, while preparing to shoot Bond. And then the projectile embedded in her gut starts shooting out flames. A moment later, Fatima explodes like her body is made up of at least 80% gasoline.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

We get one final ridiculous shot showing that all that’s left of Fatima are her flaming stilettos. Farewell, Fatima Blush. You were an entertaining Bond villain, to say the least. I’m sorry to see you go, mainly because all we’re left with for the remainder of the movie is Blond Eurodouche.

Sirens wail off in the distance, and a moment later, the French police are at the gate, and they’ve already got welding tools that they’re using to cut their way inside. Bond is looking for an escape route when Felix Leiter suddenly pops out of the woodwork, complimenting him on “how you handled the lady!” What, was he just standing there the whole time eavesdropping? Thanks for coming through in the clutch, Felix.

The next thing we see is Bond on a bicycle, and Leiter jogging and shadow boxing. They’ve both stripped down to their underpants to make it look like they’re just two guys out getting some exercise. In their underpants. Leiter even still has on his black dress shoes and socks, but the two men get waved through by the police anyway. Leiter looks back and laughs, and this gets some upbeat comedy jazz on the soundtrack.

The jazz continues as we get a shot of the Flying Saucer in the harbor. Suddenly, we’re under the surface, and Leiter and Bond are in scuba gear checking out the yacht. Bond finds some sort of sliding door that lets him inside, but the door immediately closes behind him, preventing Leiter from following. Bond takes off his scuba tank and goggles, and climbs a ladder.

Cut to Bond coming up through a hatch, and his wet suit has mysteriously disappeared, and now he’s only wearing swim trunks. Bond’s attempt to quietly sneak aboard comes to a quick end when a butler walks up and says, “Mr. Largo is waiting for you, sir.” Bond tries to act just as nonchalant, and the butler gives him a robe and leads him off to meet Largo.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

On the way there, Bond passes Domino and links eyes with her, most assuredly eye-fucking her for a brief second. Then he’s in the ship’s control room, meeting up with Largo, who cheerfully declares, “You are a bit early for lunch!” And also, most of our lunch guests board the ship above the water line!

They exchange pleasantries and Largo offers him a drink. And wow, this time Bond actually asks for a vodka martini! He doesn’t specify if it should be shaken or stirred, but maybe he’s like Daniel Craig and he doesn’t look like he gives a damn. Actually, judging by his performance, Connery himself didn’t give a damn by this point.

Meanwhile on the shore, Leiter comes out of the water, looking pissed. And even though we could clearly see his hair in the underwater shots, he’s now wearing a full hood as part of his wetsuit. Between this and Bond’s disappearing wetsuit, I have to say, great job on continuity, everybody.

Next, Bond is in what Largo calls his “situation room”. And much like Wolf Blitzer, this situation room is where he keeps track of everything going on in the world. Bond quips that Largo could “run a small government from here.” But Largo corrects him. “I could run a large government from here!” Give that man a rimshot, too.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

And then we finally get a hint of what Largo actually does for a living when he explains that these days, his business is oil, which is something of a “departure” for him. Bond hopes “it doesn’t blow up in your face!” Subtle, James.

Largo simply chuckles and says he has work to do, and “time is money”. He says they’ll meet for lunch, and then just leaves Bond standing around in his situation room, which doesn’t seem like the brightest move. Naturally, Bond catches sight of a computer screen that mentions the name “TEARS OF ALLAH”.

And now Bond is strolling around the boat, completely unaccompanied. Domino tries to get his attention, but the butler shows up, and she hides. As Bond is led away, Domino is able to make some silent hand gestures at him to indicate they should meet up later in Domino’s dance studio.

In the studio, Domino demands to know what happened to her brother, but Bond shushes her. To drown out their voices, he walks over to a stereo and cranks up the bad ‘70s porno music. Largo, in his secret computer room, hears the funky jazz and opens up the wall, once again revealing the one-way mirror. He sees Bond and Domino talking, but can’t hear anything. Largo furiously fiddles with buttons, trying to eavesdrop, but it’s no use.

In the studio, Bond is asking Domino if “Tears of Allah” means anything to her. So she shows off the blue-green necklace that Largo gave her, which is currently hanging on a mannequin. Domino says Largo told her it’s “very valuable,” to which Bond replies, “It doesn’t look it.” James Bond, instant jewelry appraiser! She then reveals that Largo is heading for his home in North Africa, a place called “Palmyra”.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

Bond says he needs to get out a message, but to do this, he first has to kiss Domino. “I want you to respond as if you like it!” Oh, come now, James, don’t sell yourself short. You know that kissing James Bond is the greatest pleasure in her life! It’s the greatest rapture afforded to her!

He explains, “I’m doing this for two very good reasons.” One, I’m horny. Actually, he says reason number one is to “provoke a reaction”. A reaction in his pants, I think. As he moves in for the kiss, Domino asks what reason number two is, and it’s “Because I always wanted to.” You know, ever since he first saw her, two days ago.

They kiss, and we see that Largo has already run out of his secret computer room, and he storms angrily into the studio. Alas, Domino and Bond are already gone. Somewhere else on the ship, Domino sets off the fire alarm. Hey, you can get into a lot of trouble for that, young lady! Everybody instantly clears out of the Situation Room, and once they’re all gone, Bond enters and starts randomly punching buttons on a machine to send out a signal.

Over in the dance studio, Largo gazes at a photo of Domino with her brother. He drops it, and it shatters on the floor. Yeah, I don’t know what the point of that was.

And now Bond has snuck into Largo’s computer room. How did he know this even existed? Oh right, Bond is psychic. In the dance studio, Largo pulls out a fire axe and starts smashing all the mirrors for no particular reason, and eventually he turns the axe on the turntable, killing the porno music. And that’s when he finally hears the fire alarm going off. Largo looks at the one-way mirror, and somehow intuits Bond is in there, and runs off.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

We’re now back with M and Moneypenny and Moustache Guy at MI6. Moustache Guy says that they picked up Bond’s message, and he’s heading to a place in North Africa called “Palmyra”, but none of them has any idea what that could be referring to. M tells his man to look into it, and the other guy looks positively befuddled on how to go about doing that. My confidence in British intelligence is dropping by the minute.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

I’m not sure what happened on the yacht in the meantime, but we cut to Largo, Domino, and Bond standing on the deck, and they’ve all changed clothes, and Bond looks through binoculars at a ancient castle which turns out to be Palmyra. Largo says this is his “retreat” where he can “escape and enjoy all my treasures.” And on this line, he gives Domino a creepy perv look, just because it’s been a while since he did that.

Cut to the three of them entering a cavernous, ornate mansion. Sinister cello music plays as Largo asks his “princess” how she likes her “new home”. Seems like it might get a bit drafty in the wintertime, but otherwise it’s okay. Largo then glares at Bond. Why are the three of them hanging out together, anyway? Is Largo hoping this will turn into a hot threesome?

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

Suddenly, one of Largo’s henchmen appears and cocks his rifle. Largo grabs the back of Domino’s head hard, and tells Bond that “the game is over”. Game over? Spoken like a true arcade game designer. Largo has his goon take Bond away, while Domino looks terrified.

And now, Largo is in some other part of the place, holding up a hefty jade statue. He claims it “belonged to Napoleon’s empress”, and hands it to Domino. Being nervous and frightened, she nearly drops the thing. Largo tells her to be careful and adds, “That is your… wedding present.” You know, some new silverware would have been just fine.

Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 5 of 6)

He says, “You betrayed me. But I forgive you!” Domino breathes heavily as she asks what happened to her brother. Without even giving him time to reply, she goes, “I hate you. I hate you!” So Largo grabs her face and lays a big wet, messy kiss on her.

She’s so freaked out that she drops the jade statue, which shatters on the floor. She says, “You’re crazy!” Hey, you’re the one who just destroyed a priceless historical artifact, lady. She tries to slap him, but he grabs her hand, kisses it, and starts whistling some random tune. “Maybe… I’m crazy.” There’s a slight possibility.

That’s all for now. Check back next time for the not-very-thrilling conclusion of Never Say Never Again!

Multi-Part Article: Never Say Never Again: the lost recap

You may also like...

  • Gallen_Dugall

    “Do these tubes have any actual purpose”

    Big metal cylinders actually have a lot of purposes, however given the size and length of these I’m guessing they are intended for drainage. These are the sort of things you need to run under roads to keep them from being washed out by allowing the water a path to flow that doesn’t carry off soil and the road atop it. Being very low mass they probably end up in movies because they’re big but relatively safe to have tumble around. With a service life of 25+ years some other popular applications are as pipes and culverts, drainage systems, stormwater systems, fish passages, conveyor covers and overcasts, ventilation systems, utilidor systems, culvert relines, Nick Nolte’s summer home and much much more.

  • Muthsarah

    This film was very instructive for me, as a fan of movies in general, and a fan of Bond films especially.

    “Never Say Never Again” is ugly. From beginning to end. In a way that fellow early 80s Bond films “Octopussy” and “For Your Eyes Only” weren’t; both films at least knew how to look good (and FYEO had a lot else working for it as well). So it’s not the era that’s to blame. Bond + Early 80s can still work, both aesthetically and otherwise.

    Also, yeah, very similar story to Thunderball (for obvious reasons). But I actually enjoy watching Thunderball, warts and all. I have seen this film twice. I’m probably never seeing it again.

    This film is instructive because it shows just how much Bond films rely on style to sell themselves as even basic entertainment. So much of the Connery Bonds wouldn’t work if they WEREN’T of the 60s (and not just style, but the horrible gender politics). Ditto for Moore in the 70s, or Dalton in the later 80s. Reduced to their bare story elements (or at least the bare elements of this story), these films are B-grade pulp, all of them. The stuff that surrounds the perfunctory dialogue and the highly-unreliable acting, THAT’S what makes Bond films work. Be classy, be slick, be dramatic, be bold. Just don’t be “Never Say Never Again”. This is, without a doubt, the cheapest-looking Bond film I’ve ever seen (not counting the 1950s TV “Casino Royale”, which isn’t comparable in any way). No artistry whatsoever. Dr. No is “Barry Lyndon” compared with this.

    This film taught me that a superficial appreciation of cinema is just fine, if that’s what makes the film work. Superficiality is not shallowness, it’s just appreciation of one of the many layers that makes for a good movie. And Bond films NEED style of some sort if they’re gonna work. The 1960s, forget it, anything made then looks good. 1970s films work if they either embrace the campy, over-the-top style that still tried to be leading-edge, or go the exact opposite and go for nice, scuzzy grit. 1980s films look great if they’re just loud, fun, shallow bits of fluff that embrace the relative lack of pretension of the time. Never Say Never Again managed to miss every one of these. And so, it lays bare the many inherent flaws of these kinds of stories. It’s fine watching a film where the villain doesn’t kill the hero (for no good reason), if it feels staged and almost classical. We don’t poke holes in Shakespeare’s plots, do we? It’s contrary to the point. To the attraction. We come to Shakespeare for the language, the the poetry. As long as it has that, it works; nothing else matters. Similarly, we can believe that a Bond girl would fall for James in 0.24 seconds, because that’s just a central conceit. But it requires SOMETHING more than just “he’s Bond”. He must be instantly cool, unflappable, inspiring confidence, or just charming and gentlemanly as hell. This film shows us none of that.

    Bond NEEDS style to work. And this film managed to out-UN-style “Diamonds are Forever”, the previous franchise low-point. Or maybe it didn’t, and it was just paced slower. Either explanation works. Point is, it doesn’t work. At all. Worst Bond film at the time of release. Thunderball gets plenty of hate for its pacing, but at least it knows how to look good while being so slow. Same reason Terrence Malick has a career, I guess.

    Klaus Maria Brandauer is fun in these films, even though he comes off more as a henchman than a main villain. And that’s all that works here. I blame the aesthetics. I blame the lack of anything that remotely matches the ingenious set designs of Ken Adam, or the almost-legendary scores of John Barry. This was a Bond film that had nothing going for it but the presence of the original Bond, plus a respectable villain. And that’s not near enough to make it work. It’s a little distressing to think of how many other Bond films (most of which I really like) could have failed had they lacked what this film lacked. But for the grace of good behind-the-scenes artists, I guess. It’s astonishing that any Bond film could be this bland. Even the Brosnan era never quite plumbed these depths of cheapness (though, for the record, I would still take NSNA over “Die Another Die”, but that’s for other reasons).

    • Gallen_Dugall

      That was a lot of good stuff you wrote there. Two things in particular struck a cord with me.
      “these films are B-grade pulp, all of them”
      That was my revelation while revisiting the Bond films in the wake of Skyfall, they just aren’t very good. Entertaining, sometimes yes, but none of them make much sense. Then again try revisiting one of the low grade rip offs like “Agent For HARM”, “Danger!! Death Ray”, “Secret Agent Super Dragon”, “Code Name Diamond Head” and you soon start to realize that most people in film making have no idea what they’re doing.
      “But for the grace of good behind-the-scenes artists”

      Can’t agree more with that.
      I don’t know about the specific style issue quite so much. Then again I like the Brosnan era films.
      NSNA didn’t have a story it wanted to tell so much as it had a franchise it wanted to milk.

      • Muthsarah

        Skyfall – Roger Deakins = Crappy Dark Knight ripoff.

        I won’t go so far as to say that I disliked “Skyfall”, but, it’s a film that succeeds on technical merits alone. The story is terrible (and contrived, being more than a little similar to “The World is Not Enough”), the third act is almost comical in the worst ways, and I – and this is more than the others, a matter of personal taste – am tired of the “who can we trust?” “there’s a mole in our system”, “OMG, what’s real, what is reality + COMPUTERS ARE MAGIC!!!!!!!” plot.

        Bond doesn’t work in the 21st century. “Casino Royale (2006)” worked because it was relatively simple. Arms dealer. Or drug dealer. Whatever the baddie was, it’s all the same. Sabotage. Running. Punching. It’s well-edited. It has some wit. It really COULD have worked on-screen 40 years previously, with only minor changes for technology (cell phones). But it coulda worked. It was based on a book from the 1950s, and they didn’t really change THAT much (at least in the parts based on the book). So it’s a good, classical espionage tale. A perfect fit for a (then) 50-year-old action lead.

        But Bond was written for an age when an agent could literally be all alone in a dangerous situation. No cell phones. No GPS. No, James, you can’t just call in an airstrike. No, you can’t check the Internet for an antidote to the poison you were just injected with. Figure your own way out. You are ALONE. Work your own way out of your jam, by your wits and experience alone. I’ve read a number of the books. While they’re not all gems (some are decidedly less), they feel true to the cinematic character, at least through Dalton.

        Hence why I think the whole fundamental formula breaks with the inclusion of modern technology. Bond is a Cold War espionage story. You just can’t remove him from that. Casino Royale (2006) worked because they kept it simple and mostly classical. Skyfall, however…well….it has GORGEOUS cinematography. Roger Deakins is easily the best thing about that movie. I also like the Jellyfish skyscraper fight scene, if only because it has a single unbroken shot. No cutting. It just….has a steady camera. No, that shouldn’t seem unusual, or even remarkable. But it does, given modern action films. It doesn’t cut. It doesn’t shake. It’s in silhouette (minus 5 points for House Eon), but still, good by today’s standards.

        But without the cinematography, and the good performances by Dench, Bardem, Craig, “Skyfall” woulda been a huge disappointment. As is, it’s just a disappointingly mixed bag. And, for the record, I am looking forward to “Spectre” with dread, because EVERYTHING about it reeks of the worst parts of Skyfall. Expect “The Dark Knight Rises” remade. All of you. Expect “The Dark Knight Rises”.

        Also, to end on a more positive note:

        Re-watch “Moonraker”. Yeah, the story’s $#!+, I’ll grant you. But watch it for the score and the sets. I guarantee you’ll like it more, if you just know what parts of the film really deserve the focus. It’s a very well-made film. If only they’d created an even-decent script, it would surely be remembered more fondly than it is today. It doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the worst.

        • Gallen_Dugall

          Moonraker gets points from me for Microwave Frequency Lasers which were actually developed at the time and proved more effective than conventional firearms… although they could be completely foiled by aluminum foil… or chainmail, serious drawback. Also they were much more bulky than what is shown in the film.
          I’m not sure what was wrong with Skyfall. Skyfall seemed to have a plot interrupted by a hamfisted effort to shoehorn more and more Lady Dench into it. The first third of the film feels right and then it shifts tone and plot and keeps shifting. F*ing Joker magical explosives – that only worked for Batman because it was a comic book. Anyway by the time I saw Skyfall I had moved from being amused by callbacks, through being annoyed with them, and had begun to loath them so I can not watch it objectively.

          • Muthsarah

            Well, M was an integral part of the villain’s plot. She was the Bond girl that James had to protect. She wasn’t “shoehorned” in. They took what was almost a peripheral element of “The World is Not Enough”, put it in the center of the story, and wrote the rest of the movie around it. I think.

          • Gallen_Dugall

            To me it feels like they took an existing script, cut out the real antagonist plan and motivation, then glued in a bunch of stuff about M in order to give her more to do. I strongly suspect that the script was originally about Bond and an agent he shot. So revenge against Bond and not M. Best guess was that the story was that no one believes that agent to still be alive, there’s some is-he isn’t-he stuff, Bond gets framed for stuff, has to escape MI6 and completely disgraced the baddie moves in for the kill so that Bond has to hole up in his family home to defend himself with only the resources on hand.
            What we’re left with is absurdly contrived revenge where the stakes couldn’t be lower and focused on a character that we have no investment in. It is very much like Diamonds are Forever where we spend most of the movie following the killer gay duo mixed with following Bond following their trail. In both films Bond is reduced to a secondary character.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            I’ve said this before but Skyfall had 3 writers.

            It shows.

          • Gallen_Dugall

            That makes sense.

          • Mr. Greene

            Three CREDITED writers. Peter Morgan was the original writer — and, actually, I believe Paul Haggis had also been involved, at one point. Neither went credited.

          • Muthsarah

            Eh…..Silva being the rogue agent, once-burned, that fits perfectly well within a “get revenge against M, and while I’m at it, all of MI6” plot. For all of Skyfall’s failings, the idea of M cutting an agent loose when it would have become too much a bother to rescue him, is absoLUTEly in keeping with her character going back to Goldeneye. Her big dialogue with Brosnan-Bond, about her being an analyst – cold, obsessed with numbers and such – it totally fits with the idea of her cutting the cord on Silva. Granted, Brosnan-Bond and Craig-Bond are NOT in ANY way in-canon with each other. They are not. But what is seen cannot be unseen, y’know? Bond fans know. I know. To me, that’s the most important thing. :p

            The idea of Dench-M cutting Silva loose, either because he got in too deep and couldn’t be extracted without a terrible price (a la Brosnan-Bond in Die Another Day), or because he himself was seen as too much of a walking, breathing liability (surely, he didn’t become Bond-villain-mad ONLY after being cut loose, MI6 seems to breed rebellious agents – see also Alec Trevelyan). Either way, whoever it was that had captured Silva…

            NOT EXACTLY SPOILERS EXCEPT FOR OVER-SENSITIVE MARKETING CONCERNS

            China China China China China China China China China China China China

            END NOT-EXACTLY SPOILERS

            …had probably helped to turn him against MI6, or at least cut him loose to bite his old hand for not saving him.

            To me, this part of Skyfall’s plot makes total sense. Why is it so hard to believe that, sometimes, an agent has to be cut loose? Abandoned. “We do not officially acknowledge the existence of [Silva] or his activities and strongly condemn any of his supposed violent activities towards our partner-in-peace [China]”. Didn’t take even half a second for me to process that first-viewing. Silva got caught, M cut off contact, [China] kept him around, convinced him that M was really to blame for his predicament, set him loose on his old handler. Off he goes, to cause chaos to someone that isn’t [China]. Hurrah!

            Again, I don’t follow behind-the-scenes production notes (“Spectre” is the first film where I’ve actually bothered to check up on such things, BECAUSE what I’ve heard has been so bad, I want to know to go in guarded), but the plot of Skyfall seems well-constructed. That part of it, at least. Just not the payoff. Just not the execution of Silva’s plan. Computer magic. Contrived chase through the sewers, where Bond is forbidden (by the writer) to ever be able to do anything to get in the way of it.

            Again, it’s the technological thing that eats at me. The idea of a former MI6 agent seeking revenge on M for being abandoned because either protocol or math? Totally cool. I’d love that, if they played it as some kind of “License to Kill” in reverse – the baddie has a vendetta against MI6 for being personally wronged. It’d be like “Goldeneye” without the eleventh-hour Lienz Cossack thing thrown in (which, while absolutely historically true, didn’t work within the movie, because of how late and throwaway it was). But Skyfall just felt too artificial, once the main plot got going. The first act, very good. The third act, kinda stupid. Second act? Dumb as hell. I HATED that big chase. Never once did I feel Bond had a chance. Silva’s precognisant “genius” went WAY above what I could buy from this series. Even over the goofiest Moore-era stunt.

            Maybe had they played it more for laughs. Seemingly admitted the contrivance, I coulda had fun with it. But, like with technology itself, these new Bond films are DETERMINED to be taken as serious action dramas. If you’re gonna do that, fine. But you HAVE to make sense. You can’t have it both ways. Be campy and wink at the audience, or make perfect sense. One or the other. Skyfall ultimately failed because it didn’t realize which side it wanted to be on. Maybe the multiple writing teams had something to do with that. But with all this money, and a good, safe three-year (EDIT: in this case, FOUR-year) window between releases, what excuse is there for not being able to put a decent script together well before filming?

            I don’t know how well you guys are following the “Spectre” news, but I have been following it. I won’t spoil anything for you, but, to keep it simple, they are still shooting without finished screenplays. Without the producers being satisfied with the final acts. Major re-writing (during production), trying to make compromises to fix things that, apparently, aren’t working. Flying-by-the-seat filmmaking. With a 300+ million dollar budget. No excuse. Sloppy, sloppy filmmaking. Expect eleventh-hour just-good-enough fixes. Expect a highly-compromised movie.

            I just have to wonder if ANYONE at the top has any clear idea of how to run this franchise. Maybe they just got lucky with Skyfall and its massive box office. Spectre could do well enough on goodwill alone, but still be a massive disappointment for fans. I’m girding myself. I suggest at least moderate caution from here on out.

            EDIT: As for the “original” plot you describe, that just sounds horrible. If anything, bringing M into it sounds like a clear improvement. Having a whole movie where MI6 is convinced (by an obvious) villain who only Bond (and the audience) thinks is actually alive and evil, to cut Bond loose and thus force Bond to fight for his life a la Kevin McAllister. That woulda ruined both the movie, and the franchise, and the whole premise of MI6 or M being remotely competent. Even if we were to assume that your original scenario was accurate, I’m FAR happier with what they actually made of it. Was it John Logan who stepped in to revise the Purvis and Wade screenplay, or the other way around? The former wrote Star Trek: Nemesis, the latter pair wrote Die Another Day.

            Good God, why were ANY of the three involved with this movie?!

          • Mr. Greene

            To be fair, the original Bonds had a LOT of stuff written on the fly or during production, too — From Russia with Love, especially, which utilized the talents of an uncredited Berkely Mather during production to heavily polish the script (the Siamese fighting fish speech is all him, for instance, as well as that ENTIRE subplot of Grant shadowing Bond throughout Turkey), and where LARGE chunks of the film were wholesale re-shot at various points later in filming in order to clarify and/or change plot points. It’s a damn wonder it turned out as great as it is.

          • Muthsarah

            Most of this is new to me. And FRWL is my favorite Bond film.

            I know filmmaking is collaborative, and that on-set writers and directors and often actors not-uncommonly contribute ideas during principal filming that make it to the final cut, some of which ends up being iconic (Han’s “I know” from Empire being a particularly well-known example). I did know about the re-shoot of the opening scene from FRWL, just to give “Bond” a mustache to underscore that it wasn’t really him that was dead two minutes into the Bond movie, but that was due to test audience confusion. And, among other crimes of taste and rationality, test audiences famously gave Goodfellas (the theatrical cut) the lowest scores Warner Bros had ever seen in a screening. Test audiences are morons, is where I’m coming from. That reshoot wasn’t necessary.

            But the fish speech? Nice little detail. Dunno why they didn’t come up with it earlier, considering that it so nicely sums up everything that Spectre, the driving force behind almost everything in the movie, is trying to accomplish.

            However, FRWL was dusted off in less than a year. As in, the whole movie, script to final cut to distribution. “Spectre” is fundamentally rewriting the whole third act after almost three years of production and over $300 million spent. With that amount of money alone, I can’t not think producer/studio interference on all levels, probably from the start, and an overall chaotic production, probably spurred to foaming-at-the-mouth paranoia at the prospect of NOT matching Skyfall’s borderline-obscene box office.

            Traditionally, it was the highest-grossing Bond films that marked the collapse of an era, and the following film had to pick up the pieces, re-invent the brand, and keep the franchise going. This time, it seems the follow-up to the massive hit is going to cause all the problems. Unless…Spectre out-grosses even Skyfall (certainly plausible, given that this movie will certainly open with at least $500 million, given Skyfall’s rep and an unlimited advertising budget), and BECOMES the film that both A) out-grosses all other Bonds, and B) convinces Eon that MAJOR changes are needed to save the brand. Which seems comical today, but, well, “Die Another Day” wasn’t THAT long ago, really.

            Damnedest thing, that trend. Bond fans have been lucky that they’ve managed to dodge that bullet time and time again. I suspect that’s what’s gonna come around once again – we’ve got another You Only Live Twice or Moonraker or Die Another Day on our hands.

          • Mr. Greene

            I hope not — this might be more Thunderball. Although they do seem to be going for a definite On Her Majesty’s Secret Service flavor with that last trailer…
            Have you read the e-mails? Sony was absurdly insistent on cutting costs, to an almost absurd degree, every step of the way — I assume to “maximize profits” should the film become as massive a hit as Skyfall was. I’m surprised EON wasn’t allowed to flex its budget muscles even a little; nope, just “cut here”, “give this to the second unit”, etc. Crazy.
            By the way — it was also Berkely Mather (uncredited, again) who had Oddjob kill Tilly Masterson earlier on in Goldfinger than in the novel. If I recall correctly, he even had a credited screenplay with Richard Maibaum — it was sold at Christie’s back in 2001 — but even so, just like Joanna Harwood (who I believe contributed a treatment), he went completely uncredited in the final film.
            …and then there’s the delightful little memorandum featuring Sean Connery’s thoughts on one of the Goldfinger script drafts, wherein he declaimed Oddjob squeezing the golf balls as being “ludicrous”, and with Connery overall being EXTREMELY concerned at the jokey way the script was going. (No longer seems to be online, though, which is a damn shame.)

          • Muthsarah

            “this might be more Thunderball”

            I said it above (or below, whatever). I’m predicting “The Dark Knight Rises”. Bloated, unsatisfying. Introduce a major character from the mythology, half-ass the most recognizable plot-centric event, and just…meh. Disappoint. All-around. Especially after the previous blockbuster.

            “Have you read the emails?”

            I think so. Some of them, at least. Seriously, the OHMSS tie rumors freaked me out more than anything. While I wouldn’t be 100% against them sorta-remaking it (it’s an imperfect film, but nowhere near flawed enough to require a remake of this sort, especially given my objections to almost every bit of modern filmmaking versus what was standard in the New Wave/New Hollywood era, including OHMSS), I wouldn’t want a half-assed cover version of it, with a thick patina of cynicism and meaningless gloom thrown in to help the medicine go down. Bring in Tracy, bring in honest-Blofeld (not J.J. Abrams’ “mystery box” Blofeld like they’re so obviously doing with Christoph Waltz’ Franz “Ernest Stavro Blofeld” Oberhauser – and if they make Blofeld into Bond’s sorta-brother, I am friggin’ DONE with them, seriously, that is the WORST of modern comic book it-all-ties-together $#!+), so what if the long-time fans know how it’s gonna end. You’re clearly aiming at the great unwashed masses who’ve never even heard of OHMSS. Or Tracy. Or Diana Rigg. Or “The Avengers”, probably. So what if they don’t know what’s coming. LotR fans knew how that story was gonna go, and it went over well, didn’t it? Bond fans will watch a film with Tracy, knowing what’s gonna happen, because they love Bond. You have them already. Don’t try to be so ingenuously coy and try to both lure the ignorant while thinking you can deceive us fans.

            Anyway, my fears of them doing a half-assed OHMSS remake spurred me to actually research “Spectre” – sidebar, OHMSS is my second-favorite Bond film, and possibly my most-loved, quality be damned – and….

            SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

            I was relieved to discover that I probably don’t have that much to worry about. Especially since Craig-Bond already had a great love, Vesper. And while that ended poorly, I didn’t want Eon to give him another requited true love. He’s the “darkest” Bond yet, after all. Let him be forever spurned and angry and loveless. It’s his thing, and he wears it well.

            END SPOILER END SPOILER END SPOILER

            As for Connery and Goldfinger, I’d never heard of that other on-set rewrite either (serously, this Mather guy is unknown to me). I do remember hearing of Connery’s overall displeasure with the story, mostly as regards Bond’s passivity. Spending most of the movie just sitting around, NOT getting killed by Goldfinger (in a way certain to draw a rant from Scott Evil). Sure, even if Bond’s accurate in his threats, and killing him would just bring another agent, why let him live? Alive or dead, MI6 will either send a new agent or not. Goldfinger kept Bond imprisoned, didn’t kill him, MI6 didn’t know, didn’t do anything, and Bond foiled him anyway (after…uhh…doing something…that I really, really hate thinking about). No good reason not to just kill him. And all Connery-Bond did (other than…that thing) was have a brief comical scene with a guard before his escape. That’s it?

            Needless to say, Goldfinger is not one of my favorite Bonds. Not the worst, not close to the worst, but further from the best. Its treatment of its female characters is probably the biggest strike against it. Honor Blackman does well…for so long as she’s well-written. Or written at all. Jill and Tilly (and Dink) are just embarrassments. None of them really needed to be there, and perhaps the film woulda been better off had they not been, for all they do.

            Also, I really liked the Oddjob/golf ball thing. He was such a happy guy, constantly amused by life, so any chance he got to show off couldn’t help but put a smile on my face as well. The way he reacted when he saw the mirror that tricked Bond into crashing his car, especially. Effortless, charming. Bond did get cartoonish fast, but not in this film. The classic four-minute laser bench sequence alone (well, plus the golf scene, and the Bond/Pussy Galore plane scene, and Bond’s quip about Goldfinger’s horse, and the relatively sedate nuclear bomb/gold vault scene), well…that’s a lot of examples. Sure, it got silly. But it kept one foot firmly planted.

            I know Connery loved FRWL best (so does Craig, apparently). I do wish the series would go back to such simplicity. But, no. All baddies must be international stateless computer hackers/information specialists in trench coats, who randomly show up as untouchable crooks, free to monologue, have already infiltrated everything and who are probably just a bunch of rogue agents or other (British) terrorists fighting for causes so nebulous as to be utterly meaningless, and hence, universal. Pure, homogenized entertainment. I’m bored with these safe, stateless criminals with seemingly magical powers of precognition and three keystroke computer hackery. Bring back the petty thugs. The Kristatoses, the Sanchezes, the Scaramangas. I’ll settle for a Kemal Khan. They all had flair. They were bad, but they were all personal. Approachable baddies. The return of Spectre promises only another nameless, faceless, utterly nebulous organization of pure evil. Which was quaint in the 1960s (in retrospect), but doesn’t jive with the super-serious tone of today’s Bond. Just a deus-ex-machina rogue’s gallery – as evil as they need to be, as numerous as they need to be, as brilliant as they need to be, as replaceable as they need to be. Whatever. Just enough to give Bond a predictably challenging organization that can be reliably counted on to do just enough to push him to the limit, fail, and get away scot-free, ready for the next adventure in three years’ time. Another samey adventure. Quantum didn’t work. Spectre isn’t looking any better; they just have better name recognition.

          • Mr. Greene

            I did like QUANTUM, though; they were as impersonal towards Bond as SPECTRE was in the books. Bond wasn’t “the main enemy” for Blofeld in the books; he didn’t even give a damn about Bond until the 00 started poking around at Piz Gloria, and even then Blofeld could barely remember Bond’s name in You Only Live Twice. That was HUGE, for me, when I read those books after seeing the films; big contrast.
            But I don’t think SPECTRE will be a particularly straight adaptation; more skewed, using the tropes in a mash. I’ve heard something similar done before to avoid a full-on remake — hell, maybe I’m thinking of one of Nolan’s movies. But I do like that they’re using some of the same plot points in a new form — only thing I don’t like is that they’ve apparently not only doubled-down on the Q-Moneypenny act (I did not like their characters at ALL in Skyfall — two completely incompetent smarm-machines), they’ve also utilized a plot twist I initially thought was brilliant and turned it into something profoundly stupid-sounding — especially when you think of how the Craig films started off, with that impersonal “the universe doesn’t know, doesn’t care about, Bond, but he must fight villains in order to protect it” thing — it always seems to be brought back to “personal”, “personal”, “personal”. I like that in small does, but when they whallop you over the head with it, I kind of hate it.

          • Muthsarah

            NOTE: Possible spoilers. I don’t remember everything about what’s public and what’s leaked. Most is just wild speculation.

            Yeah, tying events back to Bond’s past (as in, before Casino Royale) is just one of the many tropes that action films today just won’t get away from. Every villain has at most two degrees of separation from the hero as a youth, and there’s always a vast conspiracy theory underpinning the baddie’s plans that the hero has to unravel, one that forces him to re-evaluate his whole worldview and question his previous allegiances or whatever.

            Paranoia isn’t really that fun to watch, if it’s so ham-fisted and formulaic. Even before the trailers came out, after hearing of the re-acquisition of the rights to Spectre and Blofeld, I assumed that Blofeld and Bond were going to have some personal tie now, like he knew Bond’s parents and maybe (probably) had something to do with their deaths, because Bond’s father was a secret agent investigating an organization that a young Blofeld was a flunky in. That Bond would discover this whole tapestry in the second act, it would make MI6 seemingly complicit, Blofeld would try to appeal to Bond as an old family friend (and not in a restrained Harry Lime kinda way), and, in a crucial moment, Bond would have to turn to Aunt Mae as his moral center.

            Oh, wait, that’s Spiderman. Nah, they’d NEVER do that here.

            Though making Ernst Stavro Oberhauser into a long-lost kinda-brother is really no better. And completely unnecessary. Why can’t the good spy-man just punch the evil bad-man because he doesn’t want the world blowed up? Isn’t that enough? It’s BOND. Go with a simple story for once, and spend your energies on making the film look and sound stylish and fun. Honestly, if Spectre turns out as convoluted and grim as Skyfall, I’ll be rooting for Disney to buy Eon and turn it over to the Marvel crew.

            EDIT: Just saw the new trailer. Looks well-shot. But OUCH, that dialogue. Like they wrote a screenplay for the trailer itself. “They say you’re finished” “What do you think?” “I think you’re just getting started.”

        • KM

          So, Bond is strictly a Cold War thing and doesn’t work in our modern world. Sounds a lot like the advice George Lazenby got from his agent. And we all know how accurate that bit of foresight turned out to be.

          • Muthsarah

            That’s a good point, though it’s not exactly the same thing.

            Up front: I LOVE OHMSS. Not the best film from a technical standpoint (Lazenby’s game, but he’s no Connery, and the second act drags), but it may be my favorite nonetheless. Maybe because it’s not as polished as Casino Royale or From Russia With Love. Like being extra affectionate towards a slightly ugly dog.

            Also, I don’t know much about the history of Bond productions, but Diamonds are Forever (which I assume had been chosen, at least going by the OHMSS DVD end credits) with Lazenby woulda been a disaster. Connery sleepwalked though most of that, but he still had an on-screen charisma that Lazenby probably wouldn’t have been able to match, and his presence probably helped to sell what was an incredibly ugly and incredibly stupid film to an audience that, after OHMSS, seemed ready to bail on the whole franchise. Lazenby played a decent literary-type Bond, and his more laid-back (but very physical) performance worked well with the movie less-ostentatious feel and the romance plot, but he also had the benefit of one of the best Bond scripts, based on the best-written Bond novel, IMHO. Diamonds are Forever the book was not very good (at least not the second half, the part the movie was – marginally – based on), and the screenplay was even worse. Tiffany Case was destroyed as a character, and Charles Gray was the least-fitting Blofeld yet. If Lazenby had stayed on, he and the producers all might well have regretted it. Having Connery come back and perform so lacklustre…ly probably helped with the transition to Moore by making it clear that a transition was really necessary, while just having Connery might have saved the franchise at the box office. I’m worried that, had Lazenby stayed on, it might all have gone the way of Brosnan after Goldeneye: diminishing returns, tarnishing the whole franchise. At a time when reboots weren’t a given.

            But to your specific point: Yeah, Bond’s formula wasn’t cutting-edge by the late 60s, and the misogyny in particular was probably getting outdated, but I have to wonder if the rise of counterculture in cinema would have made Bond as outdated as I feel modern (post-Cold War) technology has. Personally, while they’re comparable, I don’t think they’re equal. Your example mostly applies to Bond’s appeal to the audience, mine more to the story’s connective tissue.

            I think people can be forgiven for thinking that Bond’s formula of a middle-aged white guy strutting around the world with his fancy gadgets, treating women poorly, and taking orders from stuffy old Englishmen seemed like the kind of stuff that was ripe for change in the eyes of the forward-looking youth audience. And while the Moore era kept almost all of this formula, they were forced to increasingly play it for laughs, painting with broader strokes (i.e. J.W. Pepper), making Bond’s uncanny knowledge bank into a running gag, and moving away from him as a physically-dominating action hero and more as a dapper gentlemen who has to dance his way around silly henchmen, eccentric masterminds, and (sadly) mostly useless women. To me, that’s the franchise itself acknowledging that their tropes were outdated, but trying to have fun with it; in this, they were probably helped along by the aging Moore. Kinda like how The Naked Gun kept portraying Frank Drebin as being an irresistable ladies’ man; we’re meant to think it’s absurd.

            And even OHMSS toned its act down heavily compared with You Only Live
            Twice. It’s the audience, actually, that had the final word: They didn’t like the change, and they particularly didn’t like Lazenby. And while I know that Eon wanted Lazenby back, I do get where he was coming from in walking away, especially given the public backlash to his film. So I think the “advice” to Lazenby was sound; Bond WAS already a bit outdated. Eon just had to find a loophole of sorts, turn a sexy, over-the-top action series into self-parody, and get a Bond with a flair for comedy.

            For me, the biggest problem with modern technology in Bond films is that it changes almost everything about the formula, and limits Bond as an action hero. And villains who do their dastardly deeds using computers are just not ever going to be as viscerally interesting as someone who uses real flesh-and-blood type weapons – laser satellites, nuclear bombs, plagues. Stuff that will kill you in ways that are easy to comprehend and spectacular to witness.

            At its worst, it turns technology itself into a lazy kind of magic. The villain can use technology in an abstract way to…do whatever he wants. How is Bond supposed to stop magic? I may be a Luddite here, but seriously, how are you going to make an action scene wherein the hero has to beat a hacker? If the villain is just sitting around, terrorizing the world through code, because hackers are the new megalomaniacal wannabe-despots, then how is Bond going to stop him? Sit down and pound out his own code? What a boring movie that would be. Action movies need running, driving, punching, shooting. Divertissments involving scrolling on-screen code detract from that. Silva – and Skyfall in general – was a lot more fun, and easier to appreciate, when Bond had to defend against an assault by a helicopter blaring music a la Apocalypse Now, rather than just standing there recognizing Silva’s next move by reading clues in the code that, apparently, MI6’s tech guys didn’t even notice. So he can keep up with a Parkour God, survive a gunshot and a long fall from a bridge into water, AND he’s a programming savant. Really? And we’re NOT to supposed to think of this Bond as a walking in-joke? Sounds more like Moffatt’s Sherlock. But if it takes computer genius to stop a computer genius…

            …well, better they beef up Q’s role, I guess. Bond’s gonna need a full-time sidekick.

            Also, while the franchise has always played fast and loose with plausibility, modern technology also takes this uncomfortably far by forcing us to believe that Bond can maintain his anonymity despite everyone having cell-phone cameras and the ability to immediately send an image or sound recording of Bond anywhere in the world in seconds (yes, Die Another Day was the first to do this, one of its more understandable sins), not to mention video cameras everywhere, recording everything. How’s he supposed to go undercover? Or sneak into…anywhere? Or not die before he even knows the villain’s up to something? There’s no reason for the baddies NOT to just kill him before they get around to Step 2 of their evil plot. Sure, that’s part of the classic formula…but the newer movies are also playing things more seriously, so these plot holes just can’t be hand-waved away like when Blofeld didn’t just shoot Bond when he had him at gunpoint, all those many times. Technology allows them to learn anything they want about him (because MI6’s security encryption sucks so hard they’d be better off keeping all sensitive files in manila envelopes), find out exactly where he is, and launch a drone strike at him if they want to. Somehow Silva snuck several armed helicopters into British airspace and shoot up the place for 30 minutes without anyone noticing, so why couldn’t he had just launched armed drones? Or a cruise missile? He knows computers. Therefore, because technology in these films is an all-powerful magical force, he’d might as well be a god.

            In an age where World War III may well be fought entirely by coders, a guy who saves the day by running around, chasing cars, shooting stuff just doesn’t seem as plausible. At least not as dire, considering that Bond the Fulltime Hacker would apparently be a million times more effective at saving the day. Why should SPECTRE even leave the bunker? Have all of them portrayed like pre-Pleasence Blofeld – sitting down, behind a screen, face obscured. At least if you’re gonna have coders as the new masterminds, text documents as the new nuclear bombs, and…geez, what’s a Bond girl to do?

            I’m not saying they can’t make a modern-day Bond film. I just think they need to work AROUND modern technology and not so much THROUGH it. Goldeneye was a good movie, because it wasn’t just Bond (or Natalya, really) vs. Boris. Silva was scarier when he was actually physically shooting at Bond, or otherwise in direct contact with him. When he went all Joker/Loki (you mean, he MEANT to be captured all along?!!) and magicked his way through most of the second act action scenes using his technological precognition, it just felt like the writers were leading the audience along by the nose. None of it felt organic. Or interesting. Just shut off your brain and accept that everything Silva means to happen will happen, and it doesn’t matter one bit what Bond does. He’s as passive as the audience, really.