The upcoming James Bond movie teaser is online and, at first glance, looks more like a bleak vampire movie trailer than exotic escapism, which was once the franchise’s beloved trademark. What ever happened to the humor and charm that characterized any James Bond adventure? Up until the 80s, each outing in the series was a hugely anticipated event that placed the suave, cynical and resourceful British spy in the most spectacular, while implausible, situations. Each film in the franchise was pure campy entertainment in which the lead character always got away thanks to his sex appeal and gadgets, i.e., the Lotus Esprit-turned-submarine in The Spy Who Loved Me (United Artists, 1977), the Rolex watch rotating bezel-turned-saw in Live and Let Die (United Artists, 1973).
Spectre trailer takes itself way too seriously and suggests revelation about James Bond’s past, whatever. Or even better, plain boring, who cares? Who wants to know anything about Bond’s past anyway? He isn’t a believable character. He is just what every man wants to be: suave, resourceful, brave, endowed of an irresistible and insolent charm every woman falls for, while showing an incredible devotion to his country. The plot in these films is secondary. Their ‘raison d’être’ resides in the over-the-top villains and impossible situations Bond has to face, like when he was pushed out of an aircraft without a parachute in the spectacular opening of Moonraker (United Artists, 1979).
Daniel Craig is an excellent actor, but he is not James Bond. He is too serious, down-to-earth and rough for the part. And, as evidenced by Skyfall’s teary final scene, in which M died in the arms of a sobbing Bond, he is way too sentimental. What about Léa Seydoux as a Bond girl? The French actress, best known to art-house audiences as one of the leads of Cannes Film Festival’s favorite Blue is the Warmest Color (Wild Bunch, 2013) is, to say the least, an odd choice to star as the lead Bond girl. What happened to the glamour?
One also can wonder about the point of spending 300 million dollars on a movie, albeit a Bond film. What justifies such an astronomical number? It is not like the MGM-Columbia co-production is filled with A-listers, apart from two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, to some extent. The German-Austrian actor plays the role of Bond’s eternal nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a role previously held by Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas and Charles Gray.
Sean and Rog, where are you? We miss your charm and humor.