Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Bond Age (Pt. X)

2017 marks 55 years of James Bond on the movie screen.  To celebrate this momentous year, I am undertaking to review the entire oeuvre of Bond films, all 24 of them (at this juncture in history), two at a time.  These will appear on the 7th day of each month  (Bond's agent number being "007").  At the beginning of each entry I will give my personal ranking of each movie and of each movie's theme song.  (These are subjective rankings and do not necessarily agree with the view of the average Bond fan, so take it as you will).  I hope you enjoy them, nay, even look forward to the next installment.  As an added note, I am deeply indebted to Tom DeMichael, and his book James Bond FAQ,  for tidbits of information with which I am peppering these entries.                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Quiggy

By the time the series reached the dawn of the new millennium, the Bond saga had been going on for 40 years.  Many of the series regulars over the years had come and gone.  We had seen a woman take over as M, we had seen four separate actors don the tuxedo and persona of Bond, and we had even seen the departure of the stalwart Lois Maxwell, and her unrequited passion for Bond.  The only remaining figure who was still being played by it's original actor was "Q" (Desmond Llewelyn).  But even that was not a taboo role to change.  In The World is Not Enough, we still had Llewelyn's "Q", but looking forward to the eventual retirement of the actor, a new associate was introduced in this outing.

John Cleese, the Monty Python star, was introduced as an assistant to "Q".  Although he was not actually named in the film, Bond quips that if Llewelyn was "Q", Cleese must be "R".  The introduction turned out to be more prescient than the producers had thought.  Shortly after the movie was completed, Llewelyn was tragically killed in a car accident in December.  Having John Cleese take over the role added a bit of a twist to the character.  He continued the role of being exasperated by Bond's nonchalance with his gizmos, but he also added a twist of an acerbic wit, reminiscent of some of his characters on Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The World is Not Enough (1999)

Quiggy's Personal Ranking of the movie: #14

Quiggy's Personal Ranking of the theme song: # 14

Best Bond Quote:  I couldn't resist...The last line as Bond and Dr. Christmas Jones make their ubiquitous liaison in the finale:  Bond "I thought Christmas only came once a year."

Best Bond Villain Quote: Renard: "There's not point in living, if you can't feel alive"

Best Weapon:There are lots of neat little things in this one.  I'm particular fond of the helicopter that has five circular saws attached to it for use in tree trimming.  Of course, you just KNOW that's not the only use they have...

In one of the longest opening sequences ever in a Bond film, James Bond is in Spain, where he is retrieving a satchel full of money.  While he and the Swiss banker who is holding the money converse, the banker is killed by his personal assistant, just as the banker was about to name the killer of another MI6 agent.  The killer gets away.

 Bond returns to MI6 HQ where he gives the satchel of money to its rightful owner, Sir Robert King.  But King has been rigged so that a lapel pin explodes killing him while he is inspecting the money. Bond sees the same assassin from Spain, and gives chase. She commandeers a boat, and Bond hijacks an experimental boat from Q to try to catch her.  An exciting chase scene around the Thames makes for a very good opening.  Bond ends up injuring his shoulder as the assassin explodes in a flaming balloon.

 The opening credits feature a song by a band called Garbage.  The song, however is not truly garbage, although it does push the envelope a bit with the sultry style that lead singer Shirley Manson brings to the song, but as far as I'm concerned, it is much better than some of the other songs that were chosen over the years.  I still feel a hard-driving style, like the themes for A View to a Kill and Live and Let Die fit the Bond theme more, but I'll take this one.

Bond is eager to go after the killers, but M decides that his injury is too severe, so she denies him the opportunity to be on the case.  Bond of course has other ideas, and he convinces his physical therapist to give him a clean bill of health.  Bond takes off to investigate the terrorism angle, first by meeting up with King's daughter, Electra (Sophie Marceau).  Electra has taken over her father's oil business, and is overseeing the installment of a pipeline.

It turns out that the money that Bond retrieved is somehow connected with an extortion ransom that Sir Robert had paid to get his daughter released from being kidnapped by an anarchist named Renard (Robert Caryle).  Renard has one unique attribute.  He is dying from a bullet lodged in his brain, which has the effect of rendering him immune to feeling pain and gives him extraordinary endurance.  Bond is sent to protect Electra from further harm, but she is initially indifferent, since she thinks MI6 is responsible for her father's death, by not preventing the assassination.

Bond and Electra go skiing to view the pipeline and are attacked by some terrorists.  Bond manages to save Electra, and wins her trust.  Bond then goes to see an old nemesis, Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), who now runs a casino.  Zukovsky tells him about the Renard connection.  Electra shows up at the casino, and promptly loses a million dollars to Zukovsky.  She dismisses the loss when Bond expresses his dismay and  tells Bond "there's no point in living, if you can't feel alive".

Bond follows a lead and goes to Kazakhstan where he meets nuclear scientist named Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), {who must be the most improbable scientist ever, but this is Hollywood and they were trying to reach a younger audience}.  Jones betrays Bond, who was posing as a scientist, to Renard.  She doesn't know who he is, she just was suspicious of him.  Renard, it turns out, is working on getting a nuclear bomb which he plans to use to blow up the pipelines that compete with Electra's pipeline.  If you are already ahead of me, you know what that means.  And so does Bond.  He confronts Electra, who it turns out, has been a victim of what is called the "Stockholm syndrome" in which a victim ends up falling into a romantic relationship with her captor.

The finale has Bond, with Jones, who is now on his side after discovering who he really is and what Renard's evil plans entail, trying to stop Renard from his plan.The movie works on several levels, but this trope of using nuclear weapons to cause havoc has started to become passe' in my opinion. Still, I think that the story is entertaining enough that it keeps one riveted throughout.  My only quibble is the casting of Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist,as I intimated earlier.

Die Another Day (2002) 

Quiggy's Personal Ranking of the movie: # 9

Quiggy's Personal Ranking of the theme song: #19

Best Bond Quote: (Bond has just turned over a briefcase full of diamonds, rigged with a bomb) Bond: "Don't blow it all at once."

Best Bond Villain Quote: Graves: "You only get one shot at life.  Why waste it on sleep?"

Best Weapon:  Without a doubt, it's the invisible car.  I want one of those!

Bond is in North Korea with a couple of South Korean agents.  He poses as an arms dealer where he trades a satchel full of diamonds for a cache of weapons from Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee), along with his aide, Zao (Rick Yune) .  But he is revealed as a impostor, and  he is exposed.  A chase ensues which ends in the death of Colonel Moon, but Bond is captured by General Moon (Kenneth Tsang), the colonel's father.

As the opening credits roll, featuring one of the worst Bond theme songs in recent years, by Madonna, instead of seeing the classic dancing shadows and such that one has come to expect, we instead are treated to scenes of Bond being tortured while in captivity.

After the credits, Bond, who is now almost unrecognizable with shaggy long hair and beard, has been traded in exchange for Zao, who had been captured by the West during Bond's captivity.  M, who thinks that Bond probably revealed secret information while in captivity, has revoked his  007 status and plans to have him removed to a re-education facility (or possibly imprisonment, it's kind of vague to me).  Bond insists that someone must have betrayed him and wants to go after the traitor, but M refuses.

Bond engineers an escape from the hospital and goes to Hong Kong where he gets help from a Chinese agent.  He makes a deal with the head agent because the Chinese have had three of their secret agents killed by Zao.  The Chinese agent sends him to Havana where Zao has gone to a gene therapy clinic.

In Havana, Bond encounters Giacinta "Jinx" (Johnson (Halle Berry), who it turns out has her own agenda.  It turns out, as Bond later discovers, that Jinx is an agent for the American NSA.  While Jinx performs her own operation, Bond finds Zao as well as the diamonds that had been given to Colonel Moon. The diamonds now have a signature of Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), a wealthy industrialist.

Bond seeks out Graves and manages to make an enemy of him right away.  Graves has an assistant, Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) who is helping him.  But Miranda turns out to be an agent of MI6 and is trying to find out what Graves' plans are.  Graves has created a satellite called "Icarus" which, ostensibly, is his gift to the world.  It can focus light from the sun to create ideal climates in areas for growing food.

But of course, that isn't Graves real objective.  You see, the Icarus satellite can also be used to create a giant laser than can be focused to destroy military installations.  Something quite similar to the object Scaramanga created in The Man with the Golden Gun, but 30 years later, technology has made an even more devastating weapon possible.

And once you find out what Graves true agenda is, you will be just as surprised as I was.  I won't reveal who Graves actually turns out to be (although you may guess just based on that passing comment).  The last 20 minutes of the movie is what puts this one so high in my personal rankings.  That and the invisible car of course, which I still want..

Time to go off and try to save the world.  Or at least save the part where I live...



  1. You're making me think I should give Die Another Day another chance. I wasn't real thrilled with it when I first saw it, but maybe I should give it another go -- I barely remember it, and your review has me intrigued.

    1. I will admit it drags at points, but the final confrontation, I think, is worth sticking it out. This is one of the better evil villain weapons in the entire oeuvre.


I'm pretty liberal about freedom of speech, but if you try to use this blog to sell something it will be deleted.