Consider the Following – 50 years of Bond, James Bond
I recently watched “Skyfall,” the 23rd movie in the venerable James Bond series. I wouldn’t call myself the world’s biggest Bond fan but I’m definitely someone who appreciates the adventures of 007. I was looking forward to seeing a movie that some critics were calling “the best Bond film ever.”
As the credits rolled, I tried to decide where I would rank the movie in the Bond film canon. “Skyfall” featured several well-done action sequences and boasted a couple of suspenseful moments but it also contained numerous slower moving spots that seemed to drag the pace down a bit. While in no way would I describe it as a bad film, it certainly wasn’t the best Bond ever. It was probably somewhere in the middle, maybe a little closer to the top than the bottom.
To me, the best Bond movie has to be “Goldfinger.” With its better-than-average plot, interesting villains, classic one-liners (Bond: “Do you expect me to talk?” Goldfinger: “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.”) and everything else that, when done in moderation (as opposed to some of the eye-rollingly dumb dialogue and situations that seemed to pepper many of the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan movies), makes for an excellent Bond caper.
Was Sean Connery the best Bond? Part of me says yes; part of me isn’t ready to fully commit. I wasn’t around to see Connery’s movies when they first came out (and no, I don’t count “Never Say Never Again” as canon) but have since seen all of his Bond films. Being the first, Connery established the role and left a fairly high bar for all of the Bonds that followed.
I got a healthy dose of Moore’s movies on programs such as “Saturday Night at the Movies” — do people even remember when there were only five or six TV channels and a weekend movie was special, must-see programming?
I liked Moore but he stayed with the franchise for a film or two too long (was anyone else disturbed by his performance in “A View to a Kill”?) and more often than not, I found his more casual take on the role to be distracting.
As a young teen, Timothy Dalton was the Bond I saw in the theaters. I really liked him as Bond for a while but in hindsight, with only two movies to judge, and considering he played a darker, harsher version of Bond that nowadays, I’m not sure I truly like, I can’t call him a favorite anymore. George Lazenby was okay in his only shot at the role, but again, he only did one movie.
Brosnan had a nice debut in “Goldeneye” but his movies grew increasingly silly, especially with some horrifically bad tongue-in-cheek one-liners and obvious CGI effects that detracted from the movies instead of adding to them.
I don’t dislike Daniel Craig as Bond — although I am still trying to accept a blue eyed, blond Bond — but his interpretation is a little too rough and gruff for me. I realize that’s what the producers want out of him and to his credit, he’s done it well. In general, his movies are much more realistic than many previous Bond films, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in doing so I feel they’ve removed some of what made Bond Bond. I want to see James Bond and all of the things that traditionally make up a Bond movie (again, in moderation), not James Bond acting like Jason Bourne. I mean, they even moved the gun barrel opening for Craig’s films from the start to the end. Why? Some traditions were not meant to be tampered with.
As I noted, there are things about the Bond movies that I find … well, annoying, at best. The biggest one has to be the stupid names they’ve given to some of the female characters. Pussy Galore? Plenty O’Toole? Octopussy? Christmas Jones?
I mean, really, those aren’t clever. They’re not creative. They’re just dumb. Sorry, Mr. Fleming!
But of course, I’ll still go see the next Bond movie when it comes out. It’s like when you’re flipping channels before bedtime and you come across some classic Bond movie like “The Man With the Golden Gun” (a Bond movie that’s not always highly regarded but it’s a guilty pleasure of mine) on some random TV channel.
You can’t help but stop and watch … like Bond fans have been doing for the past 50 years.