News on BOND 25


The major question for me is: how severe and realistic can the topic of a Bond film be?

The caper at the heart of any Bond film so far has worked best when it was treated as lightly as possible. More reality might break the concept of the inherent pulpy entertainment.

Trafficking might be too grueling for that.


Agreed; best keep it light and frothy… like… planetary genocide… mwahahaha


Quite. Things Bond can stop. People trafficking is…not one of those things. Bare in mind this is a series that has gone out of its way to remain apolitical (mostly)


I remain convinced that there’s a way for Bond to branch out from what they’ve typically done and tackle more uncomfortable things. At the heart of the series is a man who is essentially sanctioned by his government to commit murder as he sees fit, and in some films in the franchise, exercises it quite freely. Not exactly a nice, sunny idea in and of itself. Surely, a deft writer (or team of writers) could find a way to make a Bond film that works outside of the somewhat narrow confines that EON has set in place for themselves over 50+ years and make it work with audiences.


CJF’s True Detective was an unresolved plot about a VIP poedo ring trafficking young girls.

But When it comes to bond I think it’s in the nature of blockbuster, big budget tent pole movies that there’ll always be many cooks with a say on things and that’s the main problem when it comes to a complex, controversial screenplay.

The sheer number of execs and studio suits cause enough problems in the relatively frothy variety of movie (SP). Imagine the hair pulling, gnashing of teeth, back and forth snippy emails when human trafficking and the poedophilia that goes hand in hand with it are the subject matter.

Things would twist so far out of any good writers control that a mess is surely inevitable.

In theory I’d love a gritty bond that dealt with this kind of darker stuff; as dalton pointed out above bond’s profession is itself damned dark, so darker subject matter would unlock interesting avenues to explore bond without it being another ‘all about bond’ navel gazing plot.

A novel could tackle it more effectively. So long as they can find a writer who can handle that stuff without on one hand sensationaliztion it, or on the other making it a wholey depressing read.


The human trafficking angle could work within the context of a SPECTRE-run enterprise since that was one of the projects discussed at the board meeting.


Bond films are designed for a mass audience as family entertainment.

Therefore every topic has to be treated as abstract as possible in order to create the necessary distance that allows not to think too much about the horrible consequences of the villainous plan.

Trafficking could only be mentioned in passing without being at the forefront of the villain‘s actions. In other words: who would want to see Bond dealing with the horrific pain and treatment of women and children?


I don’t think that it’s one or the other, to be honest. I can’t believe I’m going to hold this up as an example of how to go about filmmaking, but Taken handled the topic fairly well. In fact, aside from Neeson’s fisticuffs, it’s about the only thing the film does well. It does more than gloss over the issue, giving the audience enough of a behind-the-scenes look at it to further put the audience on Neeson’s side of things, but it never gets bogged down in it to the point where it takes you out of the movie.

Now I need to go and ponder how things went so sideways that I found myself defending that garbage film.

On the other topic of discussion, I do think that Bond films can emerge from being these cookie-cutter affairs that are aimed at the widest possible audience and still be very financially successful. Eventually, it’s going to have to in order to remain financially viable as there’s only so many times you can tell what is essentially the same story over and over and over again.


I bet more than one critic said that at the end of the 70s :wink:


But Taken was “only” a Liam Neeson flick, whereas any Bond movie is the big thing that’s being talked about months, even years before shooting starts at all. It’s the film that has an instant place in movie history (and be it just as the worst ever). It’s going to have Royals at the Premiere, and a free-TV premiere in Xmas week and it has to have a 12 rating. And above all, it has all those big sponsorship deals with Omega and Heineken and Ford and Sony (maybe not any more), and such difficult topics don’t sit very well with those.


Sad, but true.


That‘s the essence of it: a mainstream entertainment can only go so far in tackling a grave topic.

That’s not only a consideration of profits and the environment the sponsors want to see their products shown in. There’s also the very real risk of failure in the artistic intention and accusations of using such topics merely as a vehicle for the entertainment of a more or less brutalised audience.

I’m not sure a Bond film could really find that balance, doing the theme justice and still remain attractive to the broad audience. After all, there are countless real life horrors in our world which just refuse to be depicted in a casual, ‘entertaining’ manner, child abuse, rape and mutilation employed as war tactics, child soldiers, so on. We’ll never see them addressed - other than in a cursory fashion - in mainstream film, simply because they cannot feature in a story that’s meant to end for the viewers with a ‘happy end’.

By their very nature, by the DNA Fleming gave his works, Bond films are escapism - a fairytale for grownups. This can be a scary or even brutal story - but it’s not meant to be a story too close to reality.*

*To illustrate what I mean here: Fleming has been accused of sadism, especially in his first two books with their torture scenes. But Fleming, in his position during the war, has seen a number of real-life cases which were far more horrible, to the point of being unspeakable. He never understood that accusation and could rightfully claim that his books still remained on the very tame side of affairs.


Even at it’s grittiest I think Bond is probably better staying away from something like human trafficking. Yes, they dealt with terrorism in the past but that was terrorism for hire rather than the much more problematic subject of religious extremism, which hasn’t been touched on for equally good reasons. Having Bond enter that world and runs the risk of trivialising it, after all ‘Bond villain’ has become short hand for over the top villains with overly elaborate schemes and not something you want associated with such a serious subject.
The reference we got in SPECTRE is about as Bond should go in that area.


You think Taken is garbage? I have to say as father of a teenage daughter I found it very satisfying…


Should be printed in bold letters, framed, and put on every Bond fan’s wall. Mandatory to look at and pause half a minute before logging in to CBn or any other fan site.


I think it should replace “Bond at its best” on this website.


Indeed, it’s how I’ve always referred to them.


If Bond is, at its core, solely about escapism, then I think one could make a reasonable argument that the Craig era has, for the most part, been something of a failure then. I think the argument could be made that Casino Royale fits into that category, but I wouldn’t put Quantum of Solace or Skyfall in that category. Quantum gets down pretty deep into politics (at least by Bond standards) and faces down a lot of the issues in the world at the time (unseen enemies who don’t fight under the banner of a nation, oil politics, dwindling natural resources, etc.). People going into Quantum to escape the ills of the world in 2006 weren’t getting a huge amount of relief from them.

Skyfall, for my money, doesn’t fare much better in this department either. It delves into some heavy themes, including dabbling in the human trafficking discussion we’re currently batting around here, and is rather heavy-handed in its dourness. Add to that the fact that Bond outright fails the mission, while having little to no fun along the way, I’m having trouble seeing where this, the pinnacle of all-things Bond to most people, is escapist.

Spectre, on the other hand, is probably the most escapist Bond film we’ve had since Brosnan, and is hardly a shining advertisement for that kind of Bond filmmaking.


By that argument The Man With The Golden Gun, OHMSS, Diamonds Are Forever, The World Is Not Enough and You Only Live Twice arn’t escapism.

And Quantum was ‘08.


What makes Bond escapism is that you can throw all these real-world issues into any film without having to dwell too deeply on them. They can be a part of Bond’s world, be elements of his mission, but nobody needs to concern themselves with any of the realistic aspects. It’s Bond’s journey that entertains, not the deeper driving forces behind it. When you watch Casino Royale for instance, are you really troubling yourself over the prospect of funding terrorism? Or is it the glitz, glamour and intrigue of the settings and characters and their interactions that really fascinate?