Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Shaken, Not Stirred - A James Bond Eulogy

Back when it was announced there would be a new guy replacing Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, I remember thinking "What the hell are they doing?" The James Bond franchise is more consistent than McDonald's, and far more enjoyable in repeats. I'm sure there were money and/or political issues behind the scenes, so suffice to say that I think they made a huge error canning Pierce Brosnan, especially because I think he was as close to Sean Connery -- and to the actual James Bond character -- as it gets.

Enter Daniel Craig -- the next soon-to-be former James Bond. The last time the owners of the James Bond franchise decided to go in a different direction, they hired Timothy Dalton to star in two post-Roger Moore James Bond films, and both -- while decent -- were not James Bond movies. I remember reading PR on the first of those two films, The Living Daylights, and I to this day recall how the producers opted to go in a more serious, "gritty" direction. Timothy Dalton is an accomplished Shakespearean actor, so it figures that if he could play Othello, Hamlet and MacBeth, he could handle 007.

Uh uh. The pair of movies in which he starred were mediocre, run-of-the-mill films that were a waste of the James Bond theme. And then they got wise and hired the right guy, the guy they should have hired before he became Remington Steele: Pierce Brosnan.

So after they finished the last Pierce Brosnan film, "Die Another Day," they began leaking how that was going to be it for Pierce Brosnan. And every day since then, and up until they release the new film, a remake of Casino Royale, I'll be counting the days until Daniel Craig is a former Bond.

I'm not a Bond maniac -- I haven't spent $300 on the re-reissued Bond DVD's, and I don't even have all the films on DVD -- that, despite the fact I've got about 750 DVD's (and was dumb enough to purchase the original 'XXX' starring Vin Diesel). The bottom line, while I'm not an extremist when it comes to James Bond movies, it irritates me more and more as Sony or whoever plugs the hell out of the newest Bond movie. I don't want to see it and I definitely won't bother thinking much about it when it fades from theaters. But what I don't much understand is why the producers of these films never learn. They hired Paul Haggis ("Crash") -- an excellent screenwriter -- to make the script "grittier." Except the problem is when they tried making the series grittier, they released two Timothy Dalton performances to people who let them know they wanted the "real" James Bond, not some brooding, dark version of him. Oops.

So for this Casino Royale -- the original, incidentally, was a spoof -- neither the gadget-master, Q, nor Miss Moneypenny, the ace-in-the-hole babe-a-licious secretary, are around -- this, despite the fact that the Bond movies work because they include the same elements each time around. Now, Bond's famous martini, "shaken...not stirred," is no longer. Instead, when he's asked how he wants his martini, his response is "Do I look like I give a damn?"

Yep...that'll work.

And once they're finished flushing James Bond down the toilet, perhaps they can revise the Nightmare On Elm Street series by portraying Freddy Kreuger not as a maniacal nightmare-killer but instead as an extremely persistent Amway salesman with really bad skin.

So pardon me, when you ask me whether I've noticed the new James Bond movie's in theaters, if my response is "Do I look like I give a damn?"

I don't.

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