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Tuesday, December 10, 2002  

Warning: Contains Spoilers.

The 20th James Bond film, Die Another Day, has been in theaters for a couple of weeks and has done pretty well. Lots of people have seen it. If you’re not one of those people, stop reading now, because I’m going to start wrecking it for you in about two paragraphs.

I admit my memory of the earlier Bond films isn’t terribly reliable, not least of all because I haven’t seen every one of them. And of course it’s unfair to apply the same standards to movies that were made forty years apart, even if they are in the same series. But in the older films, did Bond rely as much on his smoldering British sex-voodoo as he does now?

Sure, Connery got lots of tastefully lit poontang, going all the way back to Dr. No. But he was also reasonably good at figuring things out and following leads. The only thing 007 follows now is the thing in the trousers of his Brioni tuxedo. Where would Brosnan’s Bond—and by extension, the world—be without the effect of his mind-melting man-mojo?

We’ll go through Die Another Day, starting at the beginning. Obviously, at any of the points below, Ugly Bond’s movie would be over. But since this is an exercise in speculation anyway, we’ll ignore that for the purposes of our little thought experiment. This is where I start wrecking it for people who haven’t seen it. I’m not kidding, people. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

At the beginning of the film, Bond is captured and thrown into a North Korean prison, where he is tortured for fourteen months under the ardent supervision of an intense, sexy, female North Korean army officer.

Ugly Bond is tortured for about fourteen minutes under the half-assed supervision of a desultory, middle-aged functionary who loses his paperwork within a week. The torture is uninspired and brief, but Ugly Bond is still there to this day. Main bad guy is free to destroy the world.

Bond is traded back to MI6 in a prisoner swap. M (Academy Award Winner™ Judi Dench), believing that Bond cracked under torture, blames him for security leaks and coldly tells him, “You’re no use to anyone.”

Ugly Bond is told by M, “You’re no use to anyone. And put a shirt on, for God’s sake. Obviously they weren’t starving you.” Ugly Bond works out on his Ab-Ixnayer in prison while main bad guy destroys the world.

Bond escapes to a Hong Kong hotel, where he flings an ashtray through a mirror to discover the hotel manager and a video crew set up to film his tryst with a hot masseuse. Bond blackmails the manager into directing him to the secondary bad guy.

Ugly Bond flings an ashtray through a mirror. The ashtray lands on an empty floor. The mirror is added to Ugly Bond’s bill, for which he has to work several days of overtime while the main bad guy is busy destroying the world.

Bond encounters Jinx (Academy Award Winner™ Halle Berry) in Cuba. They swap cheesy pickup lines until it gets dark, whereupon they swap fluids. And snacks. Bond then follows Jinx to the island where the bad guy is.

Ugly Bond encounters Jinx and attempts a suave double-entendre. Jinx beats Ugly Bond unconscious.

Bond returns to London, where Q (John Cleese) treats him like an annoying idiot.

Ugly Bond returns to London, where Q treats him like an annoying idiot. Yay, Q!

Bond introduces himself to a fencing instructor (Madonna), who flirts with him and offers to introduce him to the main bad guy (Toby Stephens, son of Academy Award Winner™ Maggie Smith). Bond defeats the main bad guy in a swordfight and gets invited to the main bad guy’s party palace in Iceland, where the entire middle third of the movie takes place.

Ugly Bond introduces himself to a fencing instructor, who tells him, “Wait over there.” Main bad guy goes to Iceland and destroys the world.

Bond hits on Jinx some more in Iceland. He later rescues her from an automated laser which can be controlled with great precision, on multiple axes, and in three dimensions with one two-button controller.

Ugly Bond tries to hit on Jinx some more. She beats him unconscious again, but this time she also takes a grisly souvenir. Jinx later gets carved up by the automated laser. Main bad guy later destroys world.

Bond goes to bed with double agent Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) because he knows she wants him. This sets the stage for her to betray him so the main bad guy can destroy the world.

Ugly Bond goes to bed with double agent Miranda Frost because who knows when he’ll get another shot at some action? This sets the stage for her to betray him so the main bad guy can destroy the world.

Bond and Jinx pursue the main bad guy onto his private 747 and prevent him from destroying the world.

Ugly Bond pursues the main bad guy onto his private 747. Without backup, he dies a lot. Main bad guy destroys the world.

Don’t get me wrong. I dug the movie, in an I-paid-for-my-popcorn-with-my-frontal-lobe kind of way. On the other hand, people keep talking about how the Bond franchise needs to be “shaken up,” but obviously nobody is committed to doing any such thing. Sure, they’ll toss in an Oscar-winning Bond Girl or make 007 “play hurt” for an episode. But I won’t believe they’re serious about it until Her Majesty’s Secret Service issues a license to kill to Steve Buscemi. Let’s see who Britain’s greatest secret agent is then.

Oh, and sorry about all the spoilers.

posted by M. Giant 3:25 PM 0 comments


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