Cinematic Bond: which movies would you consider 'deadly serious'?

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  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 1,694
    BT3366 wrote: »
    People's issue also is with Felix smiling and talking about fishing. I suppose ending up miserable would've validated the film more? I mean after what the guy went through and what his friend did to avenge him was likely important in his recovery.

    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?
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    edited July 12 Posts: 1,544
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    To me, that means being devoid of laughter, all "business". I don't take it to be directly synonymous with "credible" or "realistic".

    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.
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    That's the thing with the John Glen films, isn't it? Most of them have moments so serious that they'd almost pale the Craigs by comparison. But then there's a comedic bit here and one there to upset the tonal balance of the film. For every stone-cold killing of an ally, there's a crocodile, monkey or clown suit--not to mention a Tarzan yell, flying carpet (thank heaven they cut that one out!), and so on. It's like the films wanted to be serious... but not really.

    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.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,687
    Oh, I certainly wouldn't want to cut out sillier moments. I don't need my Bonds perfectly serious.

    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.
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    edited July 12 Posts: 1,544
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    Oh, I certainly wouldn't want to cut out sillier moments. I don't need my Bonds perfectly serious.

    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!
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,283
    I don't get the issue with the winking fish at all. The actual decoration seemed to wink, like that's what the thing does. Why not end your movie with it? It wasn't a goofball camera trick like the pigeon or anything...

    I never thought twice about the winking fish till I saw on here people compared it to the double-take pigeon. To me, it was an 'ornament' that had a winking eye, no different to those pecking birds from the seventies or those nodding dogs people used to put on the back seat of cars.

    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.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 7,433
    Humour is a real thing in the real world so I'm okay with it being present in even the most serious of films. With that in mind, I'd use the word 'tangible' to describe most Bond films, and certainly my favourites.

    It's something that feels real while you're watching it.
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    edited July 12 Posts: 1,694
    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.

    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! ;)
  • thedovethedove hiding in the Greek underworld
    Posts: 3,830
    Are we talking serious, or grounded? While none of the films are "serious" some are less fun than others. Some are outrageous!

    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.

  • edited July 13 Posts: 2,878
    Well, I don't view any of the films, or any of Fleming's novels, as being "deadly serious." But most of the movies do remind me of Fleming to some significant degree. The only ones that don't are probably YOLT, TSWLM, TWINE, and CR.

    Dr No has a dude with metal hands who lives in a luxurious underwater nuclear power plant where he topples rockets and shows off stolen paintings. Great, great movie, but certainly not deadly serious. FRWL introduces us to Blofeld and his ludicrous assassin training regime on SPECTRE Island, as well as a pretty hare-brained scheme to get back at super-agent James Bond. Great film, not serious. Both of these films were considered potentially satirical upon release, and certainly not deadly serious.

    OHMSS is about Blofeld trying to become a count by blackmailing the world with an army of brainwashed babes out to poison chickens.

    LTK certainly gravitates more toward the serious pole, but we're also having Bond doing wheelies with tanker trucks, and honestly, loved ones being killed/maimed does not a "deadly serious" film make. It's a standard trope in action films and that's all.

    CR, like LTK, leans into being a bit serious, but deadly serious films probably don't have contrived parkour chases or Scooby-Doo investigations where surveillance footage shows exactly what you need to find by dumb luck. And the villain's actions would also match his aims.

    QOS, I would say, is the most serious of the 25 films. Like the others, it doesn't portray things that would happen in real life (Elvis, Fields's death, the opera scene), but it's the closest to real life I can find in these films.

    NTTD features the line, "Q, hack into Blofeld's bionic eye."

    None of these observations are criticisms in the slightest. I love Fleming's world of women named West Berlin, voodoo masters stealing pirate treasure, giant squid battles, and Japanese gods blessing foreign agents through their living statues. I just don't see any of it as particularly serious.

    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.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,283
    To me, the single most important thing about a Bond movie is (as what was noted above, in my own translation) that it begins with a deep breath blowing into the balloon, and each quarter of the movie gives the balloon another huff... until the end where it pops.
    Kananga was the literal version of my analogy. :))
  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 12,807
    Surely QOS has to be the most serious - he just lost his girl. Plus, the humour is mostly sarcastic/tongue-in-cheek, which is naturally delivered with a straight face.

    As for most realistic, I would say QOS or FRWL. Not much fantasy going on there.
  • M16_CartM16_Cart Craig fanboy?
    Posts: 534
    Serious and realistic aren't necessary the same thing.

    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.
  • Junglist_1985Junglist_1985 Los Angeles
    edited July 16 Posts: 799
    QOS has to be near the top as its plot literally happened in Bolivia in the early 00’s.
  • M_BaljeM_Balje Amsterdam, Netherlands
    edited July 16 Posts: 4,144
    Tomorrow Never Dies

    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).
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    Posts: 1,544
    M16_Cart wrote: »
    Serious and realistic aren't necessary the same thing.

    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.

    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.
  • Posts: 2,878
    M16_Cart wrote: »
    Serious and realistic aren't necessary the same thing.

    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.

    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.
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    Posts: 1,544
    M16_Cart wrote: »
    Serious and realistic aren't necessary the same thing.

    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.

    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.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,283
    M16_Cart wrote: »
    Serious and realistic aren't necessary the same thing.

    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.

    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.
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    Posts: 1,544
    I love FRWL, don't get me wrong!
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,283
    I love FRWL, don't get me wrong!

    No, I get that, you just poked it so well.
  • Posts: 2,878
    M16_Cart wrote: »
    Serious and realistic aren't necessary the same thing.

    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.

    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.

    Wow! That's the first thing that springs to your mind when you think of FRWL??

    Bizarre...
  • Posts: 2,878
    I love FRWL, don't get me wrong!

    In that case, why mock it? Because currently it sounds like you don't take the film that seriously...
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    Posts: 1,544

    Wow! That's the first thing that springs to your mind when you think of FRWL??

    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?"

    In that case, why mock it? Because currently it sounds like you don't take the film that seriously...

    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?

  • Posts: 2,878

    Wow! That's the first thing that springs to your mind when you think of FRWL??

    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.
    Out of the entire franchise, I'd say FRWL is the only one that isn't that outlandish, both novel and film. In fact, Fleming makes a point of saying some of the book was based on fact, in his introduction to the novel - the only time he ever did this.

    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?
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    edited July 17 Posts: 1,544
    Out of the entire franchise, I'd say FRWL is the only one that isn't that outlandish, both novel and film. In fact, Fleming makes a point of saying some of the book was based on fact, in his introduction to the novel - the only time he ever did this.

    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.
    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.

    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.


  • Posts: 2,878

    But when you eventually get to really crazy stuff like YOLT and TSWLM, yeah, it's more down to earth than those.
    It's more down to earth than any other Bond film. Again, what would you say is more serious and realistic in comparison?
  • Posts: 1,122
    To be fair, even FRWL has a sense of the fantastical/Bondian absurdity in there. Both the novel and the film. I mean, in the book Bond literally stops a bullet with a book and a cigarette case (it's such a cliched, silly idea essentially depicted 'realistically', which is cool, but it's still absurd), Red Grant has a history of killing during full moons, and there's even the whole 'I'm going to reveal everything about this convoluted master plan before I kill you' section of the novel with Grant/Bond on the train. It's certainly a Cold War thriller, but it's still escapism in terms of how it's presented. The film also has its boat and helicopter chases which are, let's be honest, purely cinematic.

    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.
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    Posts: 1,544

    But when you eventually get to really crazy stuff like YOLT and TSWLM, yeah, it's more down to earth than those.
    It's more down to earth than any other Bond film. Again, what would you say is more serious and realistic in comparison?

    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.
  • edited July 17 Posts: 2,878

    But when you eventually get to really crazy stuff like YOLT and TSWLM, yeah, it's more down to earth than those.
    It's more down to earth than any other Bond film. Again, what would you say is more serious and realistic in comparison?

    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... =))
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    edited July 17 Posts: 1,544

    You really believe SP is more serious and down-to-earth than FRWL? Wow, just wow!!

    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.

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