Could Eon Have Avoided Mistakes?

I don’t think there’s a single bad Bond film, just a small handful of mediocre ones among many greats. Along the way, though, there have been some decisions taken by the production team which could be considered missteps.

I ask tentatively, then, couldn’t Eon have done something about it at the time?

Take Die Another Day, for example.There were certain things in it which were widely ridiculed (the invisible car, Graves’s Robo-Cop suit at the end, CGI which wasn’t quite advanced yet, etc), yet surely Eon would’ve been aware of these flaws before release? If not, what was responsible for this lapse in judgement? Surely they don’t need us to tell them that an invisible car is a bit … silly? (Though my mum, of all people, thinks that bit is brilliant, so maybe they asked her first).

Another head-scratcher is parts of The World Is Not Enough, most notably, perhaps, the introduction of Renard’s inability to feel pain, which is never developed. (It may have been interesting to see him withstand torture, but that’s a bit more 24 than Bond). Was this an oversight caused by different writers penning different drafts of the script?

The one I most regret is the Tarzan yell in OP, as it’s one second in a film which lasts for two hours and eleven minutes, yet has tarnished it’s reputation. (Mind you, I love Octopussy - it’s my favourite film ever, simply because it’s fun, often surreal, and balances Victorian-style swashbuckling adventure with then-current Cold War paranoia). As the actual yell is a dub, perhaps it was put in very late and couldn’t be removed (?)

There may be other examples, but I’ll leave it to others to offer them.


This is indeed a real stinker! I can only imagine that after rewrites due to conflicting producer/studio notes half the story elements/scenes were cut leaving what remained only half realised.

While I see P&W as fairly limited by their penchant for cringey arch, hackneyed dialogue, I wouldn’t have thought they were tone deaf to this glaring and huge Renard loose end. Must’ve been as painful for them to carry out such rewrites as it was for us to watch them.


The whole Quantum Organisation, which just vanished, but …now we know it was all Blofeld. :roll_eyes:


This. They should have developed and stuck with Quantum and saved Spectre for a new Bond, slowly building up Blofeld with just his hands and cat for a few movies first.


The answer in short is: they did what they did because at the time it looked like a good idea. This goes actually far back into the series, to the days of GOLDFINGER. Eon kept close to the plot but injected a crucial new element, the humour that wasn’t at all present in the books (or only in homeopathic doses).

By giving Bond’s car a toylike quality the film turned into a kind of thriller comedy on a stretch. The audience was expected to laugh along with Tania Mallet. And they did for the pure joy of seeing that toy in action - until suddenly Mallet’s character lies dead in the woods and Bond is taken prisoner by the enemy.

That sharp change of direction, completely unexpected at the time, is the real core of GOLDFINGER’s legend status in the series and in film history in general. That hadn’t been done before so effectively and was a huge gambit on Eon’s side. What if audiences just found the car daft and ludicrous? What if they didn’t like the change back to a dead girl they had every right to assume was the female lead?

But audiences loved it and the change from serious to funny and back again became a hallmark of the series. Bond wasn’t meant to be taken too serious any more.

Since then much of what we regard as mistakes today wasn’t seen as such back in the day. The Tarzan parody came after the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN one in MOONRAKER and after LAWRENCE OF ARABIA’s in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME* - a ‘tradition’ audiences seemed to like (or at least not to dislike).

The CGI of DIE ANOTHER DAY was considered to be the BIG thing in the industry - but a production that was based on real-life stunts and models didn’t yet know how to use its potential properly. And the Marvel suit Graves uses perhaps also illustrates how the tone was also meant to be on the fantastic side. Bond of the Brosnan years could well have been a Marvel comic - and that wasn’t considered a fault. This was 2002 and the direction of entertainment past 9/11 was considered tricky. Spider-Man came to the big screen and audiences responded to more outlandish stories. From today’s perspective it beggars belief - actually it did already when I left the theatre in 2002. But I was in a minority back then and I’m sure some would not have minded a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier to appear in the film.

*and did FOR YOUR EYES ONLY parody THE DEEP? I forget…


I’d forgotten about the previous parodies (i.e. Lawrence of Arabia etc). Perhaps they got away with those because it was strictly a score thing (the clothes were appropriate for the setting).

It must have been annoying for Pierce that he was the one who had to leave while Purvis and Wade, who had written DAD, remained. Particularly when he had been championing a more gritty characterization (though whether that was just talk to make him sound “artistic” is open to debate). As Eon had just tried a more serious approach with the Dalton films, it is not surprising that they may have politely ignored his requests for similar, character-driven material.


Sums it up perfectly. No one ever sets out to make a bad film but there’s a hundred things that can go wrong in the production process. I’d say as well that a lot of the things that didn’t work also came from a desire to give the audiences what they want/ expect from a Bond film. Renard was an attempt to introduce a Jaws-esque character with an inability to feel pain standing in for metal teeth. The second half of Die Another Day was trying to do a modern YOLT/ TSWLM caper complete with villain lair and fantastical gadgets. Even the use of CG was talked up as making use of cutting edge film making technology, something Bond films have always done.

The fact is making any film isn’t easy but Bond presents its own unique challenges. They’ve just completed work on the 25th film in there series, there’s simply no prescient for that, no other film series has run continuously for this long. Try something too different people reject it for being too different, don’t try anything different and people reject it for being too similar. It’s a fine line to walk and even if they didn’t manage it every time they’re clearly trying.


Without such “mistakes”, would they be the loveable old tat that they are, though?


Just so. We can even see the opposite example: OHMSS came at a time when hardly anybody would have expected - or wanted - a faithful adaptation of the novel. For years the various scripts used to be much more in line with YOLT’s hollow-volcano-space-hijack theme.

Even hardcore Fleming fans must have sat aghast and with growing disbelief in cinemas to see the film to the bitter end. Which was then considered a mistake that took over a decade before it saw its reappraisal. Today it enjoys a reputation as classic - when it was for many years the unloved stepchild.


Another: Making Blofeld Bond’s foster brother and creating S.P.E.C.T.R.E. just to troll him.

I know Mendes wanted another personal angle after Skyfall, but someone should’ve stepped in and said no.

If it wasn’t for the Danny Boyle debacle, I’d wonder if Eon are too subservient to their directors’ ideas.

…cause we havn’t seen enough Spectre bitching over the last 5 years…

To be honest, no they couldn’t have, as they didn’t see them as mistakes when they made them, and people do like other things you don’t - it’s art so can only be viewed though a personal lens.

For example I really liked Spectre, and actually enjoy all Bond movies to verging degrees.



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I enjoy them all too, and loved SP’s first half. I only mention the film at all as it’s line with the topic of the thread, and that particular plot device was widely disparaged. I don’t think of it as bitching. It’s just part of the discussion.

I think the more lacklustre ending of Diamonds Are Forever is the only “avoidable mistake” in the series’ history in that it was just down to an assistant director setting off a pyrotechnics too early.

Even the foster brother makes some sense, in that Blofeld the character, can’t exist without Bond but had a different father (McClory) who wanted Bond as his so, even when Blofeld tried to do his own things, it was still fixated on what (Eon’s) Bond was doing. Bond…didn’t really care - just empties the gun and walks away.

Meta-commentary, it works, the film, unfortunately, never really even attempts to sell it on a narrative level, which makes me think the foster brother angle was a very late in the day (likely studio) idea and they all went for their go to in a Hail Mary of making it work - Symbolism from Mendes, unused bits of Fleming from P&W


I actually only see one thing as a mistake - or rather an astonishing oversight: the unfinished looking CGI from DAD.

But EON surely will have noticed that, too, and it must have been a number of reasons why this did not work out as intended. So often, effects remain subpar because the technicians had problems to make the deadline or costs were overrun and compromises had to be made.

That, unfortunately, is the nature of filmmaking. Especially on such big budget extravaganzas. The idea of Bond using what he has and then actually surfing/hangliding/whatever one might call this out of his predicament is absolutely Bondian and one of those “you didn’t think we dared to do that”-moments I enjoy in Bond films.

As for the invisible car: it is a camouflage car which might appear invisible in the right lighting. The finished film went a step further, against P&W´s wishes. But even that is not a mistake, IMO, since it got a great reaction with the audiences I saw the film with. It was just what one expected of Bond, after ejector seats, water guns - or even a whole Lotus which could transform underwater into a submarine.

As for all the funny add-ons of music or Tarzan yells: again, they worked like crazy with cinema audiences. At that time, we laughed along with it, expecting Bond to make us feel good. So, no complaint from me about this.

Could EON have avoided real mistakes? Well, armchair soldiers often know better without actually being in the fight, and hindsight makes everyone look silly.

And we always have only second-hand or rather much worse knowledge about any situations behind the scenes. From what one could suspect (and even that is tinged with subjectivity) one might argue that hiring Danny Boyle was a mistake to be avoided - since it was rather likely that he would not go along with being denied his writer and his choice of casting (after “The Beach”).

But EON is known for taking risks, and most of them have turned into massive successes. It is the nature of the game that sometimes a risk leads to failure. Not taking risks, always just avoiding mistakes, leads you nowhere.


Hoping to see that on the next poster!


You bring up an interesting point: when was the stepbrother-angle introduced into the script? From the leaks we know that Blofeld was not in the story from the beginning. Yet, with the whole third act being tossed out and reworked for a much smaller budget, the Blofeld idea, introduced during development in the later stages, was reduced considerably (no Irma Bunt anymore). So it might have been a constant tugging - more Blofeld, less Blofeld, more stepbrother, less?

In the end, with even “cuckoo” already used in the first meeting scene, that angle apparently was decided on as important and to keep. The torture scene, however, was only in the later rewrites. Does it add more tension than the cardplaying dinner table scene? Yes. But IMO it does not work as well character wise. Also, the torture leaves Blofeld to be rather inept at placing the needles as well as he blabbers on he could do it.

But again - is that a mistake? Or just something that EON was just as disappointed about? I would put the blame on Mendes here. Yet, who knows? Was Mendes just fed up with all the stress and mingling from the studio so his priority was to push through to finally finish that film? It kind of looks like it to me since every narrative decision from the torture scene onwards feels like the lowest common denominator-decision to me.

Only… SPECTRE did make lots of money. People did not jump out of their seats after the torture scene, telling their friends not to bother with this film. Instead, audiences flocked to it. Is that something one can call a filmmaking mistake? Or rather a difference in taste?


That’s an interesting meta-reading, Orion. I like to see a meta angle in the beginning of Skyfall too, when he almost dies (the series having several such almost-deaths before going on to survive), but that’s probably being too generous.

It’s funny, but the Blofeld-brother thing didn’t really bother me when I saw it (I’ve seen the film once, at the cinema, as I knew there would be a long wait till the next one and wanted to space it out). It was only afterwards that I began to think it was a bit silly.

Nonetheless, I was really enthused with the film on the day, hailing it as great to my friends etc. And there are some great moments even in the second half. The bit where Madeleine describes the gun as “under the sink, next to the bleach’” is one of my favourite moments inthe whole series, as I love the imagery of those two incongruous objects.

You’re right about DAF: the ending falls a bit flat with Blofeld in his escape pod and Tiffany suddenly losing her earlier hard-boiled coolness. They also should’ve clarified the bit in which Bond smells Mr Wint’s perfume in the back of the car (can’t remember the specifics).

SecretAgentFan: You’re right about taking risks. I’m behind that. But it’s also good, perhaps, to notice when a risk turns into a mistake and try to fix it while you still have the chance - but then hindsight’s 20/20, of course.

The invisible car jars now we’ve had the more realistic (though, in its way, still wildly improbable) Craig era. But it is kind of fun, especially that bit when Mr Kil realises Bond has it. I intent to revisit DAD at some point, particularly as I love kitsch anyway.

The CGI in the film is unfortunate as the technicians themselves were undoubtedly talented and imaginative people, it was just that the technology wasn’t ready. But it’s a paradox, of course: the only way to improve it is to use it. We wouldn’t have these whizz-bang effects in Marvel, say, if it wasn’t for Star Wars.


Wasn’t it ready? I may be wrong but I remember other films of that era being very convincing, i.e. “The Matrix”.


DAD - I just assume the technology hadn’t matured yet. You’re probably right, though, that they ran out of time and money. They must have known it was bad, but it probably cost so much they had to use it.

SP - I think the torture scene was a disappointment at the end - not during - because of Blofeld’s “it will most probably kill you … oh well, I guess it didn’t” attitude. That’s how I remember it, anyhow, so do correct me.

I suspect that Eon knew the film had its flaws. There’s a picture of Barbara and Michael at the premier and they look like they’re attending a funeral. It must feel horribly exposing to show something to the world which you don’t fully believe in.