The first ever Deadpan guest blogpost from our very own JustaJoe! Sharing his expertise about the Brosnan-era Bond films. Thank you very much, JusstaJoe!
Bond. James Bond.
I recently had the opportunity to watch all 4 of the Pierce Brosnan “Bond Films” in sequential order, over 4 consecutive nights.Typically speaking, films in the Bond franchise had not been “good films”. That isn’t to say they weren’t enjoyable or didn’t make a lot of money but other than their music score, art direction or perhaps the “visual sequence”… there was little danger of them being mentioned at the Academy Awards. To a Bond fan though, this is of no consequence.
I saw my first Bond film in my mid teens and I was hooked. It was the Roger Moore era and even though I had read three of Ian Fleming’s novels before ever seeing a Bond Film, to ME these films defined what a “Bond Film” should be!The Bond film is it’s own genre. Well, maybe more of a specific sub-genre of the “Action Adventure” film. To be a TRUE Bond film it needs several key ingredients; Stunning action sequences, Stunning females, Stunning cars. Gadgets that are fantastic but not too far beyond the realm of possibility. A 2 dimensional villain (consistent in his character…but not complex because – we don’t care) and of course a stunningly dashing/charming/smart/clever/strong/ruthless/deadly/unstoppable/lLIKEABLE James Bond. Oh, and the opening, pre-title sequence should leave you with your mouth agape … and lead seamlessly into a titillating title sequence that was some graphic designer’s big chance in life to finally shine!
With all of THAT as my premise, I will boldly state, the first two Brosnan Bonds may be the Pinnacle of the Bond Film genre!
1995’s “GoldenEye” is firing on all cylinders as it hits each and every one of my key “Bond Film” metrics! Brosnan is dashing, the women are sexy, the villains are despicable, the quirky side characters are quirky, the action is nearly continuous and the evil plot is not overly complicated. (Note: a negative for a Bond film is slow “plot/character development” scenes that give you too much time to think) This is a fabulous start to Brosnan’s tenure as Bond. He was blessed with a good director and a great Bond script which play’s him neither “tounge in cheek” (like the later Moore scripts) nor as a tortured, dark, brooding “Batman-esque” character. I can watch this film again and again.
1997’s “Tomorrow Never Dies” – Holy Crap! Somehow they knocked it out of the park with two in a row! This again hit’s ALL of the “Bond Film” buttons … but they have gone one step farther and added a supporting female character that you’d like to see in her OWN franchise! Michelle Yeoh is not only a fabulous Bond girl, she can act! … and for the first time in my memory of Bond Babes … her fight scenes look REAL. When she throws a punch you don’t have to suspend disbelief!Additionally, with the benefit (or curse) of viewing this film from where our world is now, the film has developed a disturbingly “prophetic” feel to it. The “fantastic” has become a little too close to reality. This is another film I could watch again and again.
1999’s “The World is Not Enough“. Ooof. Well, we new it was coming. While not a bad film, it slipped a few cogs from the previous two efforts. When you watch these films back to back, you can feel when a struggle for creative direction starts. Someone has decided that they needed to put in some scenes to “build tension”. This slows things down and gives your mind a chance to wander. Not a good thing for a Bond film. Also, they are trying to slip in some of the 80’s era “tounge-and-cheek Bond” while simultaneously trying to give him “pathos’. That’s a problem and frankly, an over complication of a character that doesn’t NEED to be complicated.Also, Dr. Christmas Jones. OMG! Talk about “product placement.”
2002 “Die Another Day“. Well, that’s a wrap. Right from the horrific, Madonna produced “Theme Song”, you know that something is amiss. In summary, it has too many slow bits and it’s plot is way too convoluted (and after they get to Iceland the film just becomes a big ol mess), and some of the action sequences become “hokey” even for a Bond film. In some ways it feels like different parts of the film were written by different committees who all had their own ideas about what was important in this film. In fairness, if you had never viewed “GoldenEye” or “Tomorrow Never Dies” this film would be an okay Bond film. Or even if you had just not viewed those films recently. If you’ve come home from an evening out and it is the late movie on TNT… hey, it’s still a Bond film!
Sadly, after “Die Another Day”, Barbara Broccoli who after a previous legal battle had regained control of the character decided she wanted to make a different kind of film for her Bond franchise. Brosnan had ask for more money and while Die” was the 6th highest grossing film of 2002… the market was now flooded with “Action Adventure” films and someone convinced her that “Action Drama” was the future. That Bond films needed to be more serious. That James Bond needed to grow up. Brosnan was “let go”. 🙁
It would be hard to argue that some of the recent Daniel Craig films aren’t much better “Action Adventure Films” then many of the franchises previous efforts and even just all around better “films” … it’s just that they aren’t “Bond Films”.
In the 60’s and 70’s, Hollywood desperately tried to copy the bond formula. Then Hollywood, as it always does, grew on the theme and we got any number of “more realistic” Action Adventure films. Franchises like “Jason Borne”, “John Wick” and many of the Marvel characters (with their dark and/or twisted back stories) were making lot of $$ and I guess Broccoli wanted in on some of that loot. Now, Bond films are trying to copy OTHER franchises. For me, “Dark and Gritty” will never be a “Bond Film”. With the Craig films it’s like “The Dark Night” stumbled into the wrong franchise … and didn’t even get to bring his “Toys”. Where’s the “fun” with the new films? After viewing a Bond film I want to leave the theater feeling energized, amped up and perhaps a little giddy.
A true “Bond Film” should be a thrilling but always FUN ride. JustaJ0e
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