Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I USED TO HATE JAMES BOND
For reals. James Bond has always irked me. Irked me deeply. He is this suave older man who truly makes no sense. He is impossible and he knows it. I personally want to smack Pierce Bronson (or however you spell that punk's last name) in the face with a wet fish. I really want to kick him in the balls. This is personal.
Bond is trash and always has been. I think I have only sat through one entire Bond film until the past 5 years of my life and that was FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. That movie was some drippy trash, lemme tellyuh.
Now all of the Bond defenders are going to say, "You didn't look at the good stuff!" WET FISH SMACKS ALL AROUND, PEOPLE. You defend Bond, you are getting the fish. I was at a church of Lucifer rummage sale a few years back and picked up THE ENTIRE BOND BOX SET. No, not the books, smartass, the videos. I watched Dr. No. I must say that it had a moment or two, but nothing that I can even think of to post here off the top of my dome. Next up was GOLDFINGER. Well, I start-stopped that thing for a solid week until I realized that I was not going to stay awake through that crap no matter how many times I was teased with the idea of Connery's ball getting sizzled by lasers.
Oooooh, shaken not stirred! I am such a badass! I always wear a tuxedo. In some of my movies I smoke. I look like a wet blanket with my shirt off. The exotic betties flock to me. I have smooth quips. I shoot silenced bullets. I like gadgets. My hair is properly coifed. I have a permatan. I draw attention wherever I go. I am always high-rolling. I always say that my name is, "Bond, James Bond". Don't you want to be like me? - Ian Phlegming's character's inner monologue.
WET FISH. SMACKAGE.
There is no use for such a character. The man is impervious to all! He has no heart. He is nothing but skill compounded upon skill compounded upon womanizing skill. He knows too much for every situation. He outhinks them all. He is constantly 2 steps ahead of the game and half-drunk. He is a baby-boomer fantasy. He just doesn't work for me.
People argue and say that Roger Moore was the best Bond. Any man that stars in a movie called Octopussy probably should get such a vote. I never made it all the way through Moonraker, but I am pretty sure that what I saw was complete drivel. Old schoolers swear up and down that it was Connery who was the man. Then there was Timothy Dalton (who was damn good in an episode of Tales From the Crypt where he turned into a werewolf). And what was the name of that failed Bond? Dirk Lazenby? Something like that? I would wind up with a freshly caught mackerel and splat each of these people in their perma-tanned faces and forget about it five minutes later. These people don't count. they are portraying something that doesn't work. They need to be humbled with rock cod scales across their bronzed faces. I cannot and have not been able to buy into the fantasy, until now.
So Matt, Gabby and I took it in yesterday. First we drove through a local "dirty burrito spot" and got California Burritos. This in and of itself was something new to me. You can't pick up a burrito this dirty at Taco Bell, you have do pick this up at the taqueria up the street that is in the faded white building with the menu handwritten in spanglesh. A California burrito is carne asada, pico de gallo, cheese and french fries in burrito form. Matt later remarked that it is basically a Happy Meal wrapped in a tortilla. The stuff was bomb.
The crowd in the theatre were from the generation that is a solid 20 and 30 years beyond mine. Once again, I was reminded of the fact that this was not my tribe and I freaking hate James Bond. Then the movie started.
Bond is now, people. Bond is right NOW. This was a prequel. We see Daniel Craig get his double-oh status and proceed to put in mad work. The opening scene is some serious action. Luther said that this scene out does the chase sequence in Ong Bak. He is right. But in Ong Bak, that stuff was real, and I am sure that many people died while filming it. Bond on the other hand was polished and wired and probably bluescreened. Still, it was some action to behold. And once that action broke and the movie got underway plotwise, I was riveted to my seat. Yeah yeah, you can get all, "If this was a prequel, why does Bond have a cell-phone?" on me. I understand. I let that one slide. You should too, or I will have to reach out and touch you with a rainbow trout.
Bond has ego. A little too much ego. M (Judy Dench in a pre-Q role) tells him more than once that his ego is going to get in the way. Bond's ego does get in the way, and homeboy learns from it.
Bond can fight. It seems that the aggression displayed onscreen was about 8 to 10 notches above anything I ever saw one of those previous asshats do. These are some serious hits to the face that he is giving and taking. In one post-fight scene, Bond really looks like he has been pounded and clawed to a point of ugliness. This is the kind of guy I can get behind. He bruises, and he deals out an impressive crunching.
Bond gets owned. He gets owned at cards. He gets owned in several fights. He gets owned by his boss. he gets owned by a poisoned drink. He almost dies...sheeeoot....he does die in one scene. Bond puts it down and makes the stuff almost possible. Somewhere along the baby-boomer path, the writers thought that it would be good to show a guy who never gets tarnished. They were WRONG. The new Bond goes through two tuxedo shirts in a rough-assed card game. One is bloodied the other one is soiled and scorched. The bloodying and the soiling and scorching have to do with Bond's enemy's fluids and his own. Bond gives at the office.
What drove the previous films (in my limited summation) is that the stuff was improbable. Basically, old-school Bond was like some sort of primped modern Greek god, doing the unholy and the inhuman, at an unholy, inhuman pace. People 20 and 30 years older than me were gobbling that crap up. Same as they gobbled up Superman and a bunch of other baby-boomer nonsense. Superman, Shazam and James Bond all needed a good fish swat across their kissers. Just enough to let them know that the common man, the real people with real problems weren't buying into their insulated escapist world. What has that world gotten me? Nothing. That world wants me though. Did you see Superman Returns? That world wants me, but that word will have to work a little harder. Superman is so damn perfect that they couldn't even really give him problems. That world called out to me last summer and failed heinously. That world called out to me again this fall, and this was no failure.
I am from the MARVEL-AGE, people. I am from a time when heroes have problems. Where heroes are real people in situations that should be handled by a boomer-hero, but the real hero pushes through with real blood, real sweat and real pain. I want a flawed hero. A flawed hero is real. Daniel Craig is the real.
What makes this all work and why I have so much wood for this film right now is this: IT IS A PREQUEL. You get to see Bond before he became the asshole that I hate. The key factor is his relations with women. Bond actually falls for this girl and gets OWNED. She uses him. This is the scar tissue that the rest of the series hangs on. I don't know about you, but I think it is badass. The lesson for Bond is that he has to close his emotional doors. And he does, you have all seen how closed those doors are. How ridiculous it all is. How he bangs woman after woman with no remorse. Why? He is incapable. He says it himself in Casino Royale. He says that he needs to get out of the business before he doesn't have any soul left. This is the brilliance.
Bond is successfully castrated as a decent male on many levels in this film. Furthermore, you get to see why. Goldfinger's laser never did get to sizzle Connery's nuts, but today's Bond takes a serious gas-pedaling via knotted rope. Bond's nuts are attacked on all levels, and because of this, we are able to see his sleazy over-the-top trysts of his future as a little more sensible...a little more compensating. This Bond has taken blows to the balls that wound the soul. The rest of the film syllabus speaks to how he handles his pain.
The other bit of genius? This movie was made for ME. Why? Because I don't have to see another Bond film as long as I live. I have seen him at the top of his game and at at his most vulnerable. It is made dead clear at the end of his film that Bond is preparing to slouch into the Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Bronson(whatever) direction of Bond. I now understand why Solomon told us to weep at the beginnings of things.
Daniel Craig is the man. I'm telling you, this guy puts it down like the way it is supposed to be put down. I have put my bucket of fish away.