Should James Bond be a modern man?

edited November 2012 in Bond 26 & Beyond Posts: 3,062
In Goldfinger there's a scene where Bond says that drinking a Dom Perignon with the wrong temperature is like "listening to Beatles without earmuffs". This was at a time where the Beatles frenzy was at a high. James Bond didn't care, and therein laid his success: He didn't move with the times. He was classic and timeless. The self-assured character didn't really change for the next 40 years or so. His character was defined.

Then came the reboots, and today the character James Bond has evovled into something else: More human and unstable with flaws. Just like many other heroes these days. In SF the audience even has to learn about his troubled childhood/past. Guess every hero nowadays has to have one. Bond also have to wear an earpiece. No more going at it alone on a mission. No, he takes direct orders from his metaphorical mother.

But again... there are also hints of the old. Bond sneaking into Severine's shower is something that borders sexual assault, much like Connery back in the days tackled Pussy Galore in the barn.

So my question is fairly simple: Should the filmmakers continue down this path for Bond 24? Making James Bond a "man of his times"? Or should they go back (actually continuing forward) by giving us the classic Bond who doesn't necessarily reflect our times?
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Comments

  • Posts: 1,052
    Personally, I would love to see Bond at odds with the modern world, it was touched on in GE, when M called Bond "a sexist, mysoginist dinosaur" or words to that effect but this was never really touched upon again.
  • Posts: 161
    Modern Bond, have the characer move with the timeinstead of having him in thepast which is why Bond was so uncool in Brosnan's Bond's, the character itself didn't change. thats what i love about Craig's Bond he just isn't bogged down with cheesy one liners and shagging 10 girls a film like Moore and Brosnan. He's different.
  • edited November 2012 Posts: 774
    Skyfall characterised Bond as 'old fashioned', so I think the filmmakers are already giving us a classic Bond who doesn't reflect our times (in terms of his tastes). For example even Connery in GF had a more advanced razor than Craig in SF.
  • Guess it would depend on what part of the character one would want to "modernize", as much as anything else. Bond appreciates quality and skill, he has particular tastes and preferences, and he's a pretty staunch traditionalist. As long as the approach to the character kept those things in mind, I think he'd be received fairly well.
  • edited November 2012 Posts: 3,062
    lahaine wrote:
    He's different.
    Is this "different" approach to the character, making him more vulnerable and flawed, the main reason for SF's success?
    Volante wrote:
    Skyfall characterised Bond as 'old fashioned'
    In which certain ways?
  • Zekidk wrote:
    Is this "different" approach to the character, making him more vulnerable and flawed, the main reason for SF's success?
    I don't know about anyone else, but yes, in my case it has quite a lot to do with my enjoyment of the movie. Bond as an infallible character just doesn't interest me as much as Bond as a human character (e.g. a character who can be hurt, who feels afraid, who gets angry, etc.) I think some people often talk about Bond being humanized as though it were synonymous with Bond becoming a "softer" character, which I don't see as being true at all.

  • "Old dog, new tricks" sums it up pretty well for me.

    He is kinda old fashioned and relys on the past (hence the DB5 or the Q scene) and when all else fails he gets M out of the modern world into the/his past.

    The razor in Skyfall is a metaphor for that.

    I like the way they go right now, using more Fleming elements, a (imo) more interesting character but with many classical elements that made the franchise so famous.
    Besides, it's hardly modern for Bond to be flawed since he was "flawed and vulnerable" in the books before Connery even knew what a suit was.

    Now I don't want Bond to get total PC and abandon his roots, but that does not mean he can't move with the times (which imo he in a way always did).

    And the Beatles quote always was a bit odd to me btw. I don't need to hear a comment of Craigs Bond regarding the current music scene ;-)
  • He should say you need earmuffs for one direction.
  • edited November 2012 Posts: 3,062
    @JimThompson45
    The only time I saw Bond getting angry in SF was when his car got blown up. Where did he show signs of being afraid?

    But I understand what you are saying.
    The razor in Skyfall is a metaphor for that.
    Thank you for mentioning this. It hadn't occurred to me.
    Besides, it's hardly modern for Bond to be flawed since he was "flawed and vulnerable" in the books
    I was referring to the movies only.
  • Zekidk wrote:
    @JimThompson45
    The only time I saw Bond getting angry in SF was when his car got blown up. Where did he show signs of being afraid?

    But I understand what you are saying.
    Couple of times, actually. He showed he was angry when Silva cut his bonds; he showed he was angry when he ran out of ammunition and tossed his weapon away in the opening scene; and he was angry in the scene you mentioned, though I think that started before his car was blow up. It just came to a head when the Aston was destroyed.

    But there was more in Skyfall, too, beyond him being angry. He got tired, he was sometimes unsure of himself, he enjoyed a wry inward smile on occasion. He's still a driven, heroic character, but because it all doesn't come easier with the self assured nonsense of a person who has never failed, I find he's become much easier to root for in the latest movies, as well as being much easier to relate to.

  • Zekidk wrote:
    Besides, it's hardly modern for Bond to be flawed since he was "flawed and vulnerable" in the books
    I was referring to the movies only.

    Fair enough. In my book (no pun intended) he just always been that flawed and vulnerable before the movies and since reading the books, found the movie to lack that quality (which is not meant as negative as it sounds).

    But if I ignore the books (and therefor Bond's roots) and say the troubled hero with a dramatic past is modern, then yes I enjoy it right now. Should Bond 24 again be working in Bonds past? Imo No. Should we once again see Bond hit rock bottom? Imo No. But he still should stay the human being they created with the reboot imo.
    At least as long as Craig is Bond.

    I am open for yet another interpretation of Bond after Craig. At the moment however, I love the direction they took with Craig.

  • edited November 2012 Posts: 3,062
    But where did he show signs of being afraid, @JimThompson45?
  • Zekidk wrote:
    But where did he show signs of being afraid, @JimThompson45?
    When he lost his grip on the elevator; there is a wonderful scene where he is resting after swimming in the pool in China where I think you can see he's questioning himself, that he's afraid he hasn't got it anymore; there's sometimes that same look in his eyes when he is being put through the battery of tests in the MI6 underground headquarters.

    I would imagine for some people Craig is playing that so understated they don't pick up on it, but I think anyone who has ever been in combat does see it; they have seen those looks before. I just think it is a wonderful, nuanced performance.

  • Posts: 3,062
    I find he's become much easier to root for in the latest movies, as well as being much easier to relate to.
    Easier to relate to? I don't find that to be a good thing. For me, he should be this larger-than-life character, who NicNac described perfectly:
    NicNac wrote:
    the reason everyone fell in love with the films in the first place was because Bond became this indestructible creature who could run, jump, shoot, ski, surf, drive, fly and parachute better than anyone else. He is a funny, charming womaniser who knows everything about sherry, caviar, exotic fish and butterflies.
    There is nothing Bond can't pilot, sail or drive when need be and that's why we love him, because he is so ridiculously clever and adaptable.
    I want my Bond to be that bit more amazing than any other man, it's why I watched them in the first place.
  • Zekidk wrote:
    Easier to relate to? I don't find that to be a good thing. For me, he should be this larger-than-life character, who NicNac described perfectly:
    I understand some people prefer that sort of character; I'm just not one of them. That is far too one dimensional, and ultimately unbelievable, for me.

  • Posts: 3,062
    Okay, fair enough. You want Bond-movies to be believable. For me - they don't have to.
  • edited November 2012 Posts: 803
    Zekidk wrote:
    Okay, fair enough. You want Bond-movies to be believable. For me - they don't have to.
    Well, I don't know as I'll ever find a Bond movie "believable" -- but I certainly enjoy them more when they are less cartoonish and adolescent.

  • Posts: 1,052
    Some people would say that certain elements of the Bond films are cliched but a lot of those cliches are what made Bond popular in the first place.
  • edited November 2012 Posts: 803
    Some people would say that certain elements of the Bond films are cliched but a lot of those cliches are what made Bond popular in the first place.
    Perhaps -- or those cliche's became popular when they were fresh, and later became a drag on the series as time passed on, leading ultimately to being spoofed in films like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

    That said, one of the things I enjoy about the Craig films is they seem to have struck a nice balance between tradition and innovation in those films, particularly in this last one.

  • doubleoegodoubleoego #LightWork
    Posts: 11,121
    Bond has always been a contemporary character. That is a fact, so yes, he should obviously move with the times, within reason. For instance, I wasn't a big fan of the high tech, star fleet-esque MI6 in QoS so I'm glad they scaled back and went back to using a classic look for MI6 in SF.

    As for the character of Bond himself, Craig is doing a marvelous job in conveying the character in such a way that even though he's bringing new dimensions and facets, it still feels very familiar. In short, Craig is adding depth and a nuanced performance to a character that a lesser actor could easily convey as either seeming antiquated or pastiche to the audience.

    Craig's Bond is still fantasy and that's something Bond will always be but the level of fantasy is scaled down a bit to a more believable interpretation where, the genre in which Bond belongs requires a level of credibility to suit the harsh and unpredictable times we live in today. However, that's not to say the Bond movies are and should be joyless, bleak and gritty pictures. Far from. The Bond movies are still fun, exciting and pure escapism but it has a more realistic approach in it's overall execution, that rids itself of the cartoon-like stigma that the series had acquired particularly during the Moore and Brosnan eras. I feel and enjoy Craig's approach as a man who kills, who sheds blood, who fails, who shows his determination, making his triumphs all the more satisfying.
  • edited November 2012 Posts: 3,062
    doubleoego wrote:
    As for the character of Bond himself, Craig is doing a marvelous job in conveying the character in such a way that even though he's bringing new dimensions and facets, it still feels very familiar. In short, Craig is adding depth and a nuanced performance to a character that a lesser actor could easily convey as either seeming antiquated or pastiche to the audience.
    I think that most people would agree that Craig is doing a superb job. But he isn't writing the scripts. Ultimately it's up to the producers and screenwriter(s) to decide how the character should evolve, with Craig probably adding a few touches here and there. That being said, I would love to get my hand on the orginal script for SF. Because how much was Mendesrized? We know that a lot of scenes were kept out.
  • Posts: 278
    Do you mean, going to Asda on a Friay to buy his 24 cans of carling and then to the footie on a Saturday, Sunday he'd be player manager of the local football team, then back to MI6 on a Monday.
    Hm, not sure I really want my Bond in the real world, its oh so boring here Margo!
  • doubleoegodoubleoego #LightWork
    Posts: 11,121
    Zekidk wrote:
    doubleoego wrote:
    As for the character of Bond himself, Craig is doing a marvelous job in conveying the character in such a way that even though he's bringing new dimensions and facets, it still feels very familiar. In short, Craig is adding depth and a nuanced performance to a character that a lesser actor could easily convey as either seeming antiquated or pastiche to the audience.
    I think that most people would agree that Craig is doing a superb job. But he isn't writing the scripts. Ultimately it's up to the producers and screenwriter(s) to decide how the character should evolve, with Craig probably adding a few touches here and there. That being said, I would love to get my hand on the orginal script for SF. Because how much was Mendesrized? We know that a lot of scenes were kept out.

    Well to be fair, Craig did work on writing the script for QoS but that was for obvious reasons. I think even though the script is the foundation for any movie, the actor is still obviously critical in how the performance from the writing on the page is interpreted in front of the camera. As I mentioned, a lesser actor can change the dynamic of the overall movie. Lazenby is an example of this. OHMSS is a great movie, it's probably my favorite Bond movie and although I don't attack Lazenby's acting ability as much as other people (I didn't think he was THAT bad) it's still evident that his lack of acting experience showed and had a more accomplished actor taken on the role at the time, the result would have been different.

  • doubleoego wrote:
    Bond has always been a contemporary character. That is a fact, so yes, he should obviously move with the times, within reason. For instance, I wasn't a big fan of the high tech, star fleet-esque MI6 in QoS so I'm glad they scaled back and went back to using a classic look for MI6 in SF.

    As for the character of Bond himself, Craig is doing a marvelous job in conveying the character in such a way that even though he's bringing new dimensions and facets, it still feels very familiar. In short, Craig is adding depth and a nuanced performance to a character that a lesser actor could easily convey as either seeming antiquated or pastiche to the audience.

    Craig's Bond is still fantasy and that's something Bond will always be but the level of fantasy is scaled down a bit to a more believable interpretation where, the genre in which Bond belongs requires a level of credibility to suit the harsh and unpredictable times we live in today. However, that's not to say the Bond movies are and should be joyless, bleak and gritty pictures. Far from. The Bond movies are still fun, exciting and pure escapism but it has a more realistic approach in it's overall execution, that rids itself of the cartoon-like stigma that the series had acquired particularly during the Moore and Brosnan eras. I feel and enjoy Craig's approach as a man who kills, who sheds blood, who fails, who shows his determination, making his triumphs all the more satisfying.
    Nicely stated!

  • Posts: 3,062
    doubleoego wrote:
    Zekidk wrote:
    doubleoego wrote:
    As for the character of Bond himself, Craig is doing a marvelous job in conveying the character in such a way that even though he's bringing new dimensions and facets, it still feels very familiar. In short, Craig is adding depth and a nuanced performance to a character that a lesser actor could easily convey as either seeming antiquated or pastiche to the audience.
    I think that most people would agree that Craig is doing a superb job. But he isn't writing the scripts. Ultimately it's up to the producers and screenwriter(s) to decide how the character should evolve, with Craig probably adding a few touches here and there. That being said, I would love to get my hand on the orginal script for SF. Because how much was Mendesrized? We know that a lot of scenes were kept out.

    Well to be fair, Craig did work on writing the script for QoS but that was for obvious reasons.
    And that's probably why I think he - for me - felt the most "Bondian" (for lack of better term) in QoS, than in both CR and SF. He was just so cool in it! So I don't mind if he was to give Logan a helping hand.
  • I think that the original question tries to force a black or white view on something that can be more nuanced.

    But first a little background. When I first saw the Bond films (Connery's on TV) I was a 12 year old, scrawny, nerdy kid. I was picked on and every time that I tried to play sports (the easiest way to try to get "in" with other boys) I failed spectacularly. As someone mentioned in another thread as a 12 year old you feel powerless enough already, and that can be even more so depending on your place in the social hierarchy.

    So at that time of my life a hero that was completely infallible, was AWESOME at everything he did - even things he tried for the first time! - who knew everything about everything, who was always composed, and who could get any girl just by looking at her...well, that was the ultimate dream and wish fulfillment. Really, it was only one step away from Fonzie in Happy Days who would literally snap his fingers and every girl in the room would come running.

    But then I got older and gained life experience.

    I realized that trying to talk to girls like Bond did made them think I was a weird, creepy loser. I would get frustrated trying to do things that I didn't master the first time that I tried them. And I found that talking about things with a level of expertise made me sound pretentious and arrogant rather than cool and smart. So I felt a little "cheated" about these kind of role models in my life (Bond, Fonzie, Captain Kirk).

    So as I gained life experience I found that the key was effort. If you have to make a bit of effort at something then it's earned, which makes it more satisfying. I feel the same way about characters in films. If Moore raises an eyebrow at a girl and she falls into his arms it's meaningless. But if Bond has to flirt with her, earn her admiration, and ends up with her later then it's more meaningful. If Bond beats up a dozen henchmen effortlessly it's meaningless. If Bond is bruised and bloody (say, at the end of LTK or after the stairwell fight in CR) then it makes his victory even more impressive.

    Which doesn't negate the wish fulfillment aspect of Bond. Does anyone really think that the construction site chase in CR or the SF PTS tearing the train apart are too "real"? We're still seeing Bond do incredible feats, it's just that this is a Bond who draws upon inner resources, strength of will, training, and modern day military fitness to do these things. If he expresses a bit of doubt, or emotions, does that negate that he's exceptionally cool or manly? Of course not. Someone said in another thread that Craig's Bond isn't macho or manly because he shows emotions and has doubts. Seriously? To me it makes him even MORE manly because he pushes past those things to achieve his objectives. If someone thinks that Craig's Bond is "emo" and not a man then they have a radically different idea of "emo" than what it really is. And I dare them to meet Craig's Bond in a dark alley and tell them that he isn't macho and is a "Mother's boy" ;-)

    Look, I get that we all have bad times in our adult lives that make us like the idea of a super hero instead of a hero. But I feel that a hero can still be a human being and still be a wish fulfillment figure. In fact, even more so than a superhero.
  • I think that the original question tries to force a black or white view on something that can be more nuanced.

    But first a little background. When I first saw the Bond films (Connery's on TV) I was a 12 year old, scrawny, nerdy kid. I was picked on and every time that I tried to play sports (the easiest way to try to get "in" with other boys) I failed spectacularly. As someone mentioned in another thread as a 12 year old you feel powerless enough already, and that can be even more so depending on your place in the social hierarchy.

    So at that time of my life a hero that was completely infallible, was AWESOME at everything he did - even things he tried for the first time! - who knew everything about everything, who was always composed, and who could get any girl just by looking at her...well, that was the ultimate dream and wish fulfillment. Really, it was only one step away from Fonzie in Happy Days who would literally snap his fingers and every girl in the room would come running.

    But then I got older and gained life experience.

    I realized that trying to talk to girls like Bond did made them think I was a weird, creepy loser. I would get frustrated trying to do things that I didn't master the first time that I tried them. And I found that talking about things with a level of expertise made me sound pretentious and arrogant rather than cool and smart. So I felt a little "cheated" about these kind of role models in my life (Bond, Fonzie, Captain Kirk).

    So as I gained life experience I found that the key was effort. If you have to make a bit of effort at something then it's earned, which makes it more satisfying. I feel the same way about characters in films. If Moore raises an eyebrow at a girl and she falls into his arms it's meaningless. But if Bond has to flirt with her, earn her admiration, and ends up with her later then it's more meaningful. If Bond beats up a dozen henchmen effortlessly it's meaningless. If Bond is bruised and bloody (say, at the end of LTK or after the stairwell fight in CR) then it makes his victory even more impressive.

    Which doesn't negate the wish fulfillment aspect of Bond. Does anyone really think that the construction site chase in CR or the SF PTS tearing the train apart are too "real"? We're still seeing Bond do incredible feats, it's just that this is a Bond who draws upon inner resources, strength of will, training, and modern day military fitness to do these things. If he expresses a bit of doubt, or emotions, does that negate that he's exceptionally cool or manly? Of course not. Someone said in another thread that Craig's Bond isn't macho or manly because he shows emotions and has doubts. Seriously? To me it makes him even MORE manly because he pushes past those things to achieve his objectives. If someone thinks that Craig's Bond is "emo" and not a man then they have a radically different idea of "emo" than what it really is. And I dare them to meet Craig's Bond in a dark alley and tell them that he isn't macho and is a "Mother's boy" ;-)

    Look, I get that we all have bad times in our adult lives that make us like the idea of a super hero instead of a hero. But I feel that a hero can still be a human being and still be a wish fulfillment figure. In fact, even more so than a superhero.
    Another fine post, I think. Well said, mate.

  • edited November 2012 Posts: 3,062
    So at that time of my life a hero that was completely infallible, was AWESOME at everything he did
    (...)
    I realized that trying to talk to girls like Bond did made them think I was a weird,
    Nice story and don't we all have our childhood heroes? Besides James Bond, one of mine was Tarzan. But I never tried jumping from tree to tree :-)
  • I think that the original question tries to force a black or white view on something that can be more nuanced.

    But first a little background. When I first saw the Bond films (Connery's on TV) I was a 12 year old, scrawny, nerdy kid. I was picked on and every time that I tried to play sports (the easiest way to try to get "in" with other boys) I failed spectacularly. As someone mentioned in another thread as a 12 year old you feel powerless enough already, and that can be even more so depending on your place in the social hierarchy.

    So at that time of my life a hero that was completely infallible, was AWESOME at everything he did - even things he tried for the first time! - who knew everything about everything, who was always composed, and who could get any girl just by looking at her...well, that was the ultimate dream and wish fulfillment. Really, it was only one step away from Fonzie in Happy Days who would literally snap his fingers and every girl in the room would come running.

    But then I got older and gained life experience.

    I realized that trying to talk to girls like Bond did made them think I was a weird, creepy loser. I would get frustrated trying to do things that I didn't master the first time that I tried them. And I found that talking about things with a level of expertise made me sound pretentious and arrogant rather than cool and smart. So I felt a little "cheated" about these kind of role models in my life (Bond, Fonzie, Captain Kirk).

    So as I gained life experience I found that the key was effort. If you have to make a bit of effort at something then it's earned, which makes it more satisfying. I feel the same way about characters in films. If Moore raises an eyebrow at a girl and she falls into his arms it's meaningless. But if Bond has to flirt with her, earn her admiration, and ends up with her later then it's more meaningful. If Bond beats up a dozen henchmen effortlessly it's meaningless. If Bond is bruised and bloody (say, at the end of LTK or after the stairwell fight in CR) then it makes his victory even more impressive.

    Which doesn't negate the wish fulfillment aspect of Bond. Does anyone really think that the construction site chase in CR or the SF PTS tearing the train apart are too "real"? We're still seeing Bond do incredible feats, it's just that this is a Bond who draws upon inner resources, strength of will, training, and modern day military fitness to do these things. If he expresses a bit of doubt, or emotions, does that negate that he's exceptionally cool or manly? Of course not. Someone said in another thread that Craig's Bond isn't macho or manly because he shows emotions and has doubts. Seriously? To me it makes him even MORE manly because he pushes past those things to achieve his objectives. If someone thinks that Craig's Bond is "emo" and not a man then they have a radically different idea of "emo" than what it really is. And I dare them to meet Craig's Bond in a dark alley and tell them that he isn't macho and is a "Mother's boy" ;-)

    Look, I get that we all have bad times in our adult lives that make us like the idea of a super hero instead of a hero. But I feel that a hero can still be a human being and still be a wish fulfillment figure. In fact, even more so than a superhero.

    Great post! Thank you! :-)

  • Posts: 12,427
    He should be kept relatively modern to reflect the times we live in, else we could end up down the Austin Powers route!
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