Has Bond himself become too formidable in the past 30 years? (i.e., "One-man army Bond")

donnydracodonnydraco America
in Bond Movies Posts: 13
One of the more fascinating facets to action cinema lies in the rendering of the hero's power. Viewers tend to focus more on character, but in this genre, the reactive "skill-sets" are nearly as vital, as they must be carefully calibrated to the tone and style of the film proper. The balletic, euphoric carnage of JOHN WICK or Tarantino epic like KILL BILL, for instance, would undermine a more grounded actioner.

If there was one quality to the modern era of 007 of which I'm wary, it would be the nearly-omnipotent nature of Bond himself. From GOLDENEYE on, Bond (d)evolved from stealthy and/or gadget-laden assassin to a sort of Rambo-in-a-tux. This was problematic enough for me in the Brosnan era (the machine-gun-in-each-hand personage of TND), but downright jarring in Craig's gritty, character-driven tenure. His was a run of "heightened realism", and yet for every visceral scene in which Bond both dealt and received damage (e.g., the stairway sequence in CR), there'd be another in which this newfound verisimilitude was undercut (e.g., the parachute-landing in QOS).

For me, the worst manifestation of this came in SPECTRE, when the "first-person shooter" element that marred the Brosnan era returned. Having escaped lobotomy, Bond exits Blofeld's base and effortlessly shoots down Blofeld's henchmen. No tension, no suspense, just point, shoot, and repeat. Sadly, Fukunaga continued this in the otherwise technically-perfect NTTD; Bond, Nomi and Paloma are seen decimating entire private armies. And sure, it's stylish and fodder for good fun, but it all has a distancing effect. No matter how handsomely-crafted, say, the stairwell ascension is, the stakes are lowered when Bond can just roll over a dozen or so baddies, as if they were bowling pins. It has me pining for the days when Lazenby's Bond had to rely on Draco's mafioso to annihilate Piz Gloria, or when Dalton's Bond had to strategically take on Sanchez's cadre in LTK. It's not enough to have 007 bleed, if you rarely believe he can be killed.

Does anyone else think Bond should revert back to a lethal-but-vulnerable combatant?

Comments

  • Posts: 206
    I have been mouthing the same concern since the ‘90s.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,612
    Birdleson wrote: »
    I have been mouthing the same concern since the ‘90s.

    TSWLM & TND did start it, but SP perfected it. ;)
  • Posts: 206
    He did no such thing in TSWLM. He had an army with him.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    edited November 15 Posts: 16,612

    Birdleson wrote: »
    He did no such thing in TSWLM. He had an army with him.

    But he shot it. Dude you have an anti-machine gun fixation... it's okay for a moment like in TSWLM, but extended firing in other movies makes you nutz.... ;)
  • Posts: 1,646
    Back to the original poster, yes, I had that concern while watching NTTD at just how much time was spent mowing down people with machine guns and pondered how much time they could've saved with fewer shootouts. The SP scene of Bond with the machine gun added to the misery. Once in a while is okay but NTTD did feel like video game territory at times.

    I said cycle of Bond and a woman taking on the bad guy and his forces that started in LTK and through the Brosnan era was predictable back then. It came back in QoS and had a variant in SF and then in NTTD.
  • FeyadorFeyador Montreal, Canada
    edited November 17 Posts: 223
    Yes, @donnydraco, you're highlighting an important tonal inconsistency throughout the Craig years. While the psychology of the Bond character is generally more "real" than in earlier films, the violence (or 'action') itself is just as, or even more, fantastical than ever in many cases. And this was evident from CR onwards ....
  • donnydracodonnydraco America
    Posts: 13
    BT3366 wrote: »
    Back to the original poster, yes, I had that concern while watching NTTD at just how much time was spent mowing down people with machine guns and pondered how much time they could've saved with fewer shootouts. The SP scene of Bond with the machine gun added to the misery. Once in a while is okay but NTTD did feel like video game territory at times.

    I said cycle of Bond and a woman taking on the bad guy and his forces that started in LTK and through the Brosnan era was predictable back then. It came back in QoS and had a variant in SF and then in NTTD.

    I'd argue that LICENSE TO KILL should have been the template for these sort of conflict dynamics. Bond and Pam don't succeed because they're impervious to machine-gun spray, but because they're calculating and, at a few junctures, just plain lucky. From the underwater/plane escape to the cocaine-grinder deathtrap, I actually believed that Dalton was constantly on the razor's edge, which is why that film, though not without flaw, is infused with far more tension than most of the Brosnan/Craig installments.

    Seriously, Bond has to mow down at least 50 henchmen in NTTD (to say nothing of Nomi and Paloma's comparable tallies). How is this otherwise-dramatic movie better off for it? The effect produced is akin to reading a few chapters of Fleming on your Kindle, before the screen shifts to a DOOM or WOLFENSTEIN level.
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 711
    This is creeping into "third-person effect"-territory, but isn't this what audiences expect from action films today? I am not an archivist of the genre, so there surely are films that buck this trend, but when was the last-time in a widely seen action film that the hero/heroine didn't at some point single-handedly mow through a group of anonymous henchpeople?

    I agree, btw. that Bond doesn't need to be an Olympic athlete in addition to all his other skills. He is knowledgeable on everything, charming, a very good shot and driver and has an incredible pain tolerance and drive to succeed. That's already more than enough. He doesn't also need to be super-naturally fast and strong and the greatest hand-to-hand combatant in the world.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    edited November 17 Posts: 19,976
    I'm afraid I do not share the OP's concerns, despite the solidity of the case. Apart from Rambond aboard the stealth boat in TND, I have always enjoyed Bond's post-LTK shooting, including the shootout at Blofeld's lair in SP. Bond can shoot accurately and precisely; he has great reflexes and he can move really fast. It's no coincidence that these skills were added to the list with the advent of the first-person shooter video game genre. The physics of these games, which were augmented over the years, doubtless inspired filmmakers to adopt a more adrenalized aim-shoot-hit-repeat! style as well. When done properly, I'm all for that. The hallway shoot-em-up at the end of NTTD is kinetic, extremely well-shot and
    the nod to the gun barrel sequence is pure genius!

    It's the best FPS gaming I've seen without my hands at the controls! If anyone proves a great marksman, let it be Bond, especially a Bond who's as energetic as Craig. And if the actor does it well, then I'm in action Bond heaven. In fact, the Bond-plus-army formula, as seen in YOLT, TB, TSWLM, TLD, ... has led to some epic climaxes which I enjoy just as much, but in the end, I prefer to see Bond do most of the work himself. If that requires the extra-special talent of being an amazing shootist, well, then let's go for that. An intense fight centred around Bond, like in the sinking house in Venice, works better for adult me than Bond plus frogmen or Bond plus US soldiers.

    The other complaint, about the attempts at heightened realism versus the fantastical, is one I can certainly agree with, except that I once again don't see that as a problem in itself. This conflict has been around since the early days. FRWL: gritty cold-war thriller, but the boat battle was a bit much. OHMSS: Bond operates in a pretty naturalistic environment, but mass hypnosis is not out of the question. FYEO: we keep both feet on the ground for most of the film, but a pleasant drive in the country in a hat on wheels, shaking off some cars with muscles, is just as fine. So yes, the parachute touchdown in QOS isn't offensive to me, whatsoever, not like Q's scenes in LTK.
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