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True enough, but Leiter's big beaming smiles did pull me up sharp the first time I saw it, I have to 'fess. It seemed really out of place to me - a set jaw and a look of grim satisfaction might've been more appropriate?
Maybe I muddied the waters a bit, I get what you mean. I actually agree with you, and I can call "Alien" a serious film, despite not being recognizable as real world. Or even the Dark Knight Trilogy, that deals with some actual themes. I just think the Bond movies are fantastical escapism and aren't in that category.
I mean, Bond and all of the other characters inhabit their fantastic world and generally display appropriate seriousness about what they're doing. Jaws isn't fooling around, he's really murdering people and having a good time of it! But characters being serious and killing each other doesn't make a film necessarily serious, I'd say. I don't think "Taken" is a serious film, and that has a lot less comedy and absurdity than Bond! Or as another example, I don't think Roger was ever more serious than when talking to Max Zorin, and that film contains the most intense pre-LTK violence in the series, but is AVTAK a serious film? I don't think so.
I think those silly moments, apart being enjoyable in and of themselves as far as I'm concerned, are kind of what make Bond Bond. I made fun of Blofeld talking like a vampire and having a completely absurd assassin training program, but without that goofy stuff, FRWL would just be a lesser Hitchcock film. If Oddjob didn't crush that golf ball with his hand, Goldfinger wouldn't be as memorable. If Bond had defused the bomb in civilian clothing, Octopussy would be a lesser film.
I always wonder what the deal is with fans wanting to cut goofy/outlandish/funny bits from the Bond movies they like less. Like is a third nipple really sillier than turning Japanese? Or a pigeon on your head? Is an invisible car dumber than a car that goes underwater? Is a brief Tarzan yell really more jarring than a brief effeminate wave goodbye to a sinking piece of film? Knowing the villain from your childhood is a problem, but knowing the villain as your ex-bff is awesome? I just don't see why.
I'm glad with some seriousness, some naturalism and some realism, but Bond films, by all means, should be escapist entertainment for me. Unfortunately, not all silly moments work; some are even painful to watch for me personally.
I was replying to your comment, but I wasn't meaning to imply that you personally would want it all cut out, no worries! And Octopussy is one of my favorites, but the cleavage joke in Q's lab is absolutely painful for me to watch...!
I do want to throw in another idea here, because I'm really interested in the idea of the seriousness of Bond, and I also tend to be overly verbose. :))
I'm only 40, so it'd be hard for me to know, but I suspect that prior to Goldeneye, there was virtually zero talk of any Bond films being serious at all, and they were strictly escapist adventure movies that were honestly at least slightly ridiculous. Bond parodies were what they were because of that fact. Sure, there was that last one nobody liked where Bond got revenge on a drug dealer and some dude's head exploded, but that was weird.
Then in Goldeneye, Bruce Feirstein delivered several monologues of textual criticism of the James Bond character through the mouths of his characters. Bond was apparently some kind of psychologically tormented, alcoholic misogynist. This didn't match many people's recollections of the "gentleman spy" that was Sean's Bond, or Roger's Bond, and it didn't even feel like Pierce's Bond, who we were watching in that very movie. And an attentive reader of Fleming would not describe him the way 006 and M do. My dad wouldn't describe him that way either.
But that was sort of the new narrative, and with Casino Royale, there was actually an attempt to start (for the first time ever) living up to all that a bit. The phrase "blunt instrument" was suddenly being used and abused all the time and Bond is repeatedly referred to as an assassin. But even in the Craig era, oddly enough, the more he "finally becomes James Bond", the less his character resembles the "serious", complex, disturbing profile first offered up (on a wide scale, outside of, say, women's studies dissertations) in the mid-1990s.
And yet this conception of Bond, widely discussed, but only depicted in films featuring Bond as a rough-around-the-edges rookie, persists. And we're even at the point where LTK, once considered a pretty dark left turn for the franchise, can be viewed as being a bit too light!
THANK YOU! This has been brought up over & over through the years here, and I do "roll eyes" every time. In fact, I just watched LTK last night. As great as ever.
It's something that feels real while you're watching it.
Yes, Paul Haggis said explicitly that 'my Bond is different than all the other Bonds. My Bond is an actual assassin. When he kills somebody...it's bloody, and he pays a price. He denies that he has to pay a price, but he does.' So, yes, you're right when you say that there was a conscious attempt to forge a 'new narrative' at the start of the Craig era. I loved it, though! ;)
I think DN certainly has elements of seriousness. Bond is more like a detective than spy as he tries to figure out what happened to Strangways. I am struggling to think of a time where he was trying to put together the clues in the way he does here. Some gruesome deaths especially for 1962.
FYEO has elements of serious tones. Although dragging people through coral is certainly sadistic and a torture, it isn't a serious way to kill someone. No real reason for this to exist. The climb to the monastery is played very straight and with some realism.
I am not sure that CR could be serious, the fight in the stairway doesn't bring anyone to see what the commotion is about?
I would go with DN and FYEO as the most serious, but in reality Bond to me as always been on the lighter side.
Pretty good summary. Of all the films, I'd say FRWL has to be the most serious. It's a proper, down-to-earth spy thriller. Second to that would probably be LTK, despite the outrageous truck spectacle at the end. After that, probably QoS.
Kananga was the literal version of my analogy. :))
As for most realistic, I would say QOS or FRWL. Not much fantasy going on there.
A movie can have over-the-top scenes yet still be serious.
A movie can have all believeable scenes yet still be comedic and light.
Daniel Craig era. QOS is my favorite with Bond must deal with Vesper death and not about revenge. Background story realy started with QOS and you need to see / hear it in CR.
With what we know now there was even another background story, whyle when looking back the hint in Skyfall was biggest hint. Bond saying ''I never left'' in QOS, but he did twice.
Time to sink in what Daniel Craig era need to understand (it has a serious subjects in his hands).
Sure, but it does go the other way too. Violence and death don't make a movie serious. Again, Taken is not a very serious movie. Tracy's death doesn't make OHMSS serious. It's not some culmination of important themes in the film, it's a mild shock and a green light for the James Bond character to continue. James Bond at the end of CR doesn't seem meaningfully different to the James Bond at the beginning of CR. I would expect the events of a serious film to generally be more impactful on its characters than most of what we see in these movies.
It's why FRWL is the most serious and the most realistic. There is nothing OTT, outlandish or overly humorous about that film at all. Everything is grounded in a reality that we would never see again.
NTTD should have had a guy in a perfect Daniel Craig mask get killed by Primo on an island where assassins dressed like Steve Jobs run through an obstacle course from a kids game show.
LOL, glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read that.
No, I get that, you just poked it so well.
Wow! That's the first thing that springs to your mind when you think of FRWL??
In that case, why mock it? Because currently it sounds like you don't take the film that seriously...
No. But if someone says FRWL is realistic and not at all outlandish, I do think, "But what about the entire premise of the film, and its introduction in particular?"
Why not make fun of it? It's light escapist entertainment, it's pretty outlandish, and I don't think it was meant by anyone to be particularly serious.
I mean, I think you can get more enjoyment out of Bond with my mindset than you can with the idea the movies are or should be serious. "California Girls" doesn't bother me, Bond turning Japanese doesn't bother me, "the other feller" doesn't bother me, and the outlandish first 20 minutes of FRWL doesn't bother me. Should it?
It's the one film the filmmakers refer to when saying they want to return to the gritty spy formula, the only one to be taken seriously. Connery referred to it as his favourite because he found it the most down-to-earth.
I'm amazed you find FRWL outlandish, pure light entertainment and not to be taken that seriously.
Are there any Bond films you take more seriously?
Sure. He also made a point of featuring a villain whose murderousness is dictated by the moon cycle. He also made an elaborate point of giving Bond a more appropriate gun in the book with the giant squid. He also claimed to have been wiped out at cards by a German agent while on intelligence work, a la Casino Royale, though his colleague said it was just a fantasy, and Fleming had been playing against a Portugese businessman. The press made a point of wondering why JFK included such a silly book on his list of favorites.
The producers also claimed Moonraker is "science fact". Connery also said DAF probably has the best script they'd ever had. (Incidentally, he's not wrong!) People promoting films say all kinds of things.
A chess master comes up with a far-fetched plan to kill super-agent James Bond and obtain a decoder for his secret criminal organization headed by an unseen guy with a vampire voice. After an hour of relative leisure, Bond prevails in a lengthy fist fight, and then blows up a helicopter and several boats, only to nearly be taken in by an old woman with a poison shoe. Great movie, but it's not Le Carre, now, is it?
But when you eventually get to really crazy stuff like YOLT and TSWLM, yeah, it's more down to earth than those.
Like I said, Bond stories need a touch of that absurdity. They're not Le Carre novels, nor are they strictly speaking 'spy stories'. They can't simply be 'gritty' nor should they be wholly 'realistic'. They're so much more than that, and that's what makes them interesting.
Well, all of the Craigs, obviously. QOS in particular. It actually has themes and character arcs and ambiguities too. FYEO. But obviously we're grading on a curve.
You really believe SP is more serious and down-to-earth than FRWL? Wow, just wow!! ;))
And you think FYEO is too, Blofeld being dropped down a chimney, the Citroen car chase, the ice hockey fight with electronic scores. You find the freefall scene in QoS, with the parachute opening one second before crash landing, and Bond to be right-as-rain straight afterwards, more realistic than FRWL??
Bond's incredible fall from the train in SF into the river, the whole plot with Silva, the underground train falling through at just the right second. The breadcrumb trail to Scotland. All that is more realistic to you than the plot of FRWL??
And nanobots are more realistic than SPECTRE's training camp, or Grant killing every full moon? Blofeld's bionic eye is more realistic than someone wearing a mask like Connery before being killed?
You've taken the p!ss out of FRWL because Bond is chasing down a Lektor, and is set in a trap laid down by the most intelligent of the Russian's who happens to be a chess player, and Blofeld has a sinister voice? Or the trainer wears Steve Jobs glasses? Embarrassing.
Yet you cannot offer the same harsh criticism to ANY of the Craig Bond's. There is a reason FRWL is the only film that universally receives praise from critics and fans alike, yet its obviously lost on you if you find the film too outlandish and unrealistic in comparison to SP or NTTD.
Lol. Sorry, professor, but I'm lost for words... =))
Well, it's more serious insofar as it has characters who are somewhat well-rounded and seem to have concerns and interests beyond what is right in front of them. There are more human reactions to be seen. There seems to be more of an effort at having themes.
Now, whether a crater base is sillier than Spectre island, or whether shooting down this or that helicopter or destroying x number of boats is more OTT, I have no idea. Is turning down a flirty figure skater less serious than having a threesome with a couple gypsy girIs? Don't know. Is opening a parachute low to the ground crazier than a criminal organization manufacturing rubber masks of James Bond's face? Tough call. I don't think these movies are particularly down to earth! You're the one characterizing a Bond film as "nothing OTT, outlandish or overly humorous," not me.