Is James Bond Dead ?
I grew up with Bond movies. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, and Roger Moore fuelled my teenage and post-teenage fantasies of a fun, exciting, glorious and meaningful life. What could have been more gratifying than a license to kill the bad guys and to fornicate with beautiful women on Her Majesty’s Service with a government expense account?
I didn’t understand why Broccoli dumped Lazenby and Dalton, two of my favourites, but then Albert Broccoli was as fussy about his Bonds as I am about my vegetables and two cups of coffee; I don’t drink Starbucks roast and I love broccoli. He retired Pierce Brosnan, I thought, for his poor bed performance in The Thomas Crown Affair and Rene Russo’s compassionate smile. If you’re a woman you just can’t look at a Bond man with anything less than pleading admiration.
I rarely see a movie twice, but I must have seen each Bond movie at least twenty times. The theme song of “You Only Live Twice” still rings in my ears, yes that’s my song.
There comes Daniel Craig with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
Craig reminds me of the concierge at LAX Hilton, he looks pissed off most of the time anticipating a bad tip. “I didn’t choose this job, it chose me” says his face. You don’t want to risk tipping this guy. Thank you very much, it’s a small bag, I can manage it myself.
I was kind of disappointed with Casino Royale, but there was enough suspense and Eva Green, the stunning actress with emerald eyes, who carried the whole movie and mesmerised the audience to a shocking anti-climax. This woman can be more French than Catherine Deneuve and more English than the most Anglo BBC anchor. Even Bond, the incurable bachelor, fell in love with her and decided to retire and raise a family with her, but Eva understandably preferred to drown herself.
Quantum of Solace starts with a routine car chase. The Carabinieri, Italy’s finest, are firing at Bond. I guess I was about to figure out why when my brother says “Come on, you couldn’t possibly be sleeping, this is a Bond movie, James Bond, wake up!” Huh, snort , snort, whose car tumbled down the hill? Is James Bond dead?
Next we are transported from Italy to Haiti, presumably courtesy of British Airways. Who’s the chambermaid, snort? And I can hardly keep my eyes open. Sorry, she turns out to be the heroine, the one James Bond is supposed to, you know. They’re driving in a yellow VW bug, just like my first baby, when the heroine pulls a gun on Bond and tries to kill him, and I don’t blame her. Bond jumps out of the car and runs. This is so wise. If a woman pulls a gun on you, just run. Don’t stand around and argue.
Then we see Bond waiting on a scooter behind vegetable crates, and he’s not looking for turnips or tomatoes. There’s a tiny bit of suspense here, what in the quantum world of sub-atomic motorcycles is 007 waiting for? He’s waiting for the heroine to get on the bad guy’s boat so he can rescue her on the high seas, there’s no point in rescuing her on the quay. As soon as the boat leaves he flies his scooter into a barge and walks over the other barges to save the lead lady from the bad guys in the boat. That’s a cheap, low–budget stunt, Broccoli. I could have done that myself without going on Weight Watchers.
Where’s Q with his exploding gadgets? How can you have a Bond movie without Q and the Bond car?
At nightfall Bond gets chased by two bad cops on motorcycles and the body of his friend is discovered in his trunk. After fixing the bad cops Bond dumps the body in the garbage bin. “It doesn’t matter to him now” he says. Maybe they do that in England, but thank heavens garbage collection and funeral services are regulated in British Columbia, it couldn’t happen here.
What’s the plot and who’s the bad guy? I ask my brother between snorts. He says it has something to do with spitting lamas and poor, barefooted, thirsty Bolivian natives. The tired-looking nice chap that looks like your friendly cashier at Safeway turns out to be the arch villain. He’s out to steal not Bolivia’s oil as we were led to suspect, but those poor peasants’ precious water. Come on, even the baddest villain wouldn’t do that. Oh Broccoli, what a dumb script this is. Have we run out of villains and evil in this world? Why can’t your crook rob Wall Street, Bill Gates, or Steve Wozniak so he’d stop dancing?
Finally the bad and the good guys come together for Armageddon at a super modern luxury hotel in the middle of the Bolivian desert, presumably built for people that love to watch snakes and vultures. This is the ultimate vacation resort for the American Tourist that has been everywhere including the North Pole and Galapagos Islands. The Generalissimo of Bolivia is a jovial, kind looking man with a bushy moustache. He reminds me of my late uncle until he starts raping the waitress. Come on, Broccoli, a bottle of Viagra wouldn’t work on this guy.
Next he jumps on our heroine with dishonourable intentions when a really pissed off Bond drops in through the roof. Chop, chop, and another chop, and the Generalissimo is mercifully saved from his pending heart attack and dispatched to Valhalla. We can’t figure out why the rooms of the luxury desert resort are exploding one by one, too much gas in the water maybe, but alas, Bond and Bondie are ultimately exploded to the safety of the desert.
I decide to wake up when Bond and our heroine kiss in the car at long last. There’s nothing like some sweaty, sizzling desert romance and sex to save a movie, as they say. Then the heroine jumps out of the car with a disgusted look on her face and walks away, and I can tell it’s not Bond’s antiperspirant. She’d rather walk a thousand miles of desert than kiss or drive with this guy, and I can understand why.
I don’t want to give away a truly bad ending, but Bond decides to let nature kill our friendly cashier for having failed to convince anybody in the audience and the cast that he’s a bad guy. Nobody except Bond took the poor chap seriously. All he did was to buy some water for cash from a corrupt official, like many good business people do nowadays, and bribery is not a capital crime anywhere except China. He drives the guy to the middle of the desert and hands him what I think is a can of beer, possibly Guinness Ale, and says “I wouldn’t drink this for at least 10 hours if I were you.” How gracious can you get? But wait a minute, I was wrong, it wasn’t Guinness or Fosters Ale, and you’d never guess what was in the can.
In the final scene M, nowadays stands for Bond’s Mother Superior, announces to Bond that the bad guy was discovered dead in the middle of the desert. Since the no-fly zone and Saddam are gone, Britain’s elite SAS commandos must now be patrolling the Bolivian desert looking for dead bodies. “Was there anything beside him?” asks Bond. “Yes, there was an empty can of motor oil.” Yuk, if he drank that stuff they would’ve found more than just an empty can beside him. “We’re now trying to find out if it was Pennzoil or a generic brand. Apparently he was overdue for a tune-up and died of natural causes”. The latter part is my pro bono suggestion for an even better alternate ending.
Even Judi Dench can’t save this movie, but she can certainly sanitize it for you folks that believe in the sanctity of justice under the law.
Mr. Broccoli, if you want to hire me for the next flick, I’m available, able and willing.
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Friendswood, Texas, United States