Posted by: Nick Walters | November 9, 2009

Ranking Bond

Yesterday afternoon, I watched Octopussy, and it was shite.

Shite

This never happened to the other fella

When the highlight of a film is looking out for Gary Russell and Ken Shinn, you KNOW it’s shite (and I still haven’t managed to clock Ken, which means buying the DVD, something I don’t plan to do any time soon). It’s overlong, slow, and dull, with a plot that’s somehow too simple and too complicated at the same time, some of the direst “comedy” moments in ANY Bond film (Tarzan, “Sit!”, gorilla suit, croc sub, etc), and Roger Moore’s worst performance.  He wanted to leave the franchise at this point, but Connery’s appearance in Never Say Never Again meant that they needed him for this, so it’s a money gig and his heart’s not in it – and boy, how it shows. He looks fat and old – he’s much fitter and leaner, somehow, in View to a Kill, a far superior movie and a worthy final bow for Moore.

In Octopussy though he’s a self-parody, an Alan Partridge, a Roger Mellie rather than Moore.  He dresses and acts like an ageing lecherous square – the scene when he checks into the hotel and all the bikini-clad ladeez’s heads turn is laughable. When the gorgeous Indian hotel lady offers her services and Bond says, “Maybe later?” you can see the defiance and anger in Moore’s eyes that he’s being served up such an utter turd of a script. For turd it is! For a solid 40 minutes of the film, EVERYTHING BOND SAYS IS A QUIP. It starts during the chase scene through the market and Never. Fucking. Stops! It’s like a Carry On Film rather than a Bond film, where, lest we forget, we’re meant to care about our hero, who is meant to be in mortal danger 99% of the time.

This gruesome charade culiminates in the obligatory Q scene which reaches its nadir when Bond uses a hi-tech camera thing to zoom in and out on a lady’s boobs. It’s horrible, unfunny, unsubtle, and undignified, and I would have applauded had Q kicked Bond in the bollocks. Instead, Q just utters a world-weary “oh do shut up, OO7” , and the scene ends with the clear impression that everyone in Q Branch hates Bond (just look at the expression on the “boob” girl’s face!) and think’s he’s a cunt. Which he is, in this film.

Want more proof? The casino scene, where Bond hands young, capable and likeable Indian agent Vijay a wad of cash. “That’ll keep you in curry”, he quips. I don’t want to come across all politically correct, but how other does Bond come across in that scene as a sad, racist cunt? It’s redeemed later by his reaction to Vijay’s murder but  it’s pissing in the wind. Bond, in Octopussy, is a walking, quipping, embarrasing, anachronism, and it’s only Roger Moore’s charisma that saves it, cos we all love Sir Rog, and even here he’s better than the Brosnan mannequin. Interestingly, Moore’s sleepwalking performance here recalls that of Connery in the equally dire Diamonds Are Forever. Thank God Roger regained some enthusiasm for his swansong, the under-rated A View To A Kill.

Back to Octopussy in which Bond looks bored, and it never really seems like he’s in danger until the climax when he has to defuse the nuke. And even then he’s dressed as a clown!  Moonraker is always lambasted as the silliest Bond but it’s not, it’s great, with a good and cool SF plot that makes sense, okay there are still some silly moments but they don’t fall flat as they do in Octopussy, and the FX are, for the time, amazing.  Octopussy is just an unfocused mess with a really great plot (Orlov’s plan – a  great performance by Steven Berkoff) lost amongst the fluff and silliness.

All this got me thinking – what’s the best Bond? What’s the worst? Immediately I thought, Best = From Russia With Love, Worst = Die Another Day (whilst shite, Octopussy is at least not as offensively bad as that, and is redeemed by Moore).  And then I decided to give the films a score out of ten (I don’t count Never Say Never Again – it’s shit! – or the 60s Casino Royale, excellent though it is). This was the result:

  • Joint first with 10 points:  Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, Licence To Kill, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  • Joint second with 9 points:. The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only
  • Joint third with 8 points: Quantum of Solace, Moonraker, Live and Let Die, Dr No, Goldfinger
  • Joint fourth with 7 points: The Man With The Golden Gun,You Only Live Twice, The Living Daylights, The World Is Not Enough
  • Joint fifth with 6 points: A View To A Kill, Thunderball, Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Joint sixth with 5 points: Octopussy, Diamonds Are Forever, GoldenEye
  • Last place with 3 points: Die Another Day

OK but that doesn’t tell me which one’s the best, with 4 films vying for the top spot!

So I decided to add in the “OO7 Factor” – rank the six James Bonds and award them points which are then added to each movie’s score.

So my OO7 Factor ranking is, top to bottom (those who consider Connery the best, please fuck off):

  • Daniel Craig: OO7 Factor 6
  • Roger Moore:  OO7 Factor 5
  • Sean Connery: OO7 Factor 4
  • Timothy Dalton:  OO7 Factor 3
  • George Lazenby: OO7 Factor 2
  • Pierce Brosnan: OO7 Factor 1

So for example Octopussy’s score of 5 taking in Moore’s OO7 Factor of 5 brings its total up to 10 – an instance of a favourite Bond improving the score of a mediocre film. Of course the opposite happens with OHMSS which only increases by an OO7 Factor of 2 bringing its total score to 12 – it still beats Octopussy, though.

So the rankings accounting for the OO7 Factor is:

  • First with 16 points: Casino Royale
  • Joint second with 14 points: From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Quantum of Solace
  • Joint third with 13 points: Moonraker, Live and Let Die, Licence To Kill
  • Joint fourth with 12 points: Dr No, Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Man With The Golden Gun
  • Joint fifth with 11 points: You Only Live Twice, A View To A Kill
  • Joint sixth with 10 points: Thunderball, Octopussy, The Living Daylights:1 0
  • Seventh with 9 points: Diamonds Are Forever
  • Eighth with 8 points:The World Is Not Enough
  • Ninth with 7 points: Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Tenth with 6 points: GoldenEye
  • Bottom with 4 points:Die Another Day

As I said Octopussy benefits from this system as do the two the two Dalton films. OHMSS is the biggest casualty falling right down the rankings and my dislike of Brosnan whacks The World Is Not Enough to the bottom just above the other 3 of his films. Deservedly, as Brosnan is the worst Bond by miles.  Casino Royale emerges as the clear winner as I think Craig is the best Bond, this also does QoS a lot of favours.

Of course, this could all change tomorrow as I could suddenly decide that Moonraker deserves 10 points. And there are times when I think it deserves 11 and is not only the best Bond film, but the best film ever made, pigeon and all.

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Responses

  1. Could the criteria be expanded to include Bond Girls, set-pieces, locations, gambling, director and OF COURSE – theme?

    For example – Quantum of Solace

    Direction – a so-so 4/10 from Marc Forster
    Bond Girls – only 2 Gemma Areterton and Olga Kurylenko – 6/10
    Set pieces – Exploding hotel! 7/10
    Locations – Bolivia *YAWN!* 3/10
    Gambling – None. 0/10
    Theme – Ugh ‘Another Way to Die’ – 4/10

    I reckon that would redress the balance somewhat.

  2. I think this calls for a meta-spreadsheet cataloguing all Bond criteria – NO!

    That’s the ming mong way…

    Having “gambling” in EVERY film makes it a trainspotter checklist rather than a cinematic experience.

    I applaud the direction they have taken with the Craig films but am frustrated that they are apeing the Bourne flicks and there won’t be another one until 11 to truly cement Craig (who I think is the best Bond).

    And Bond films are always more than the sum of their parts. Octopussy has all the requisite elements (girls, gadgets, Q etc) but is still shite.


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