I finally got to take my wife to the new James Bond. We had a hoot -- the thrill factor has indeed returned to the franchise. I have to wonder who's responsible for the difference in pacing and tone, since this is (apparently) the same director who gave us Goldeneye.
As we drove home, I commented that this was the first Bond movie in which the audience got to see a great deal more of Bond's bod than they did either of the Bond Girls'. "You say that like that's a bad thing," said my wife. Ahem. Yes, well ... where did I put those 12 lb dumbbells?
I'm not sure which of the New Yorker critics made the analogy, but he said the movie was all protein, no carbs -- and he said it like it was a good thing. If we can just ignore the mechanics of the movie, which were more proficient and engaging than they'd been for the last score of Bonds, and focus on what the Bond franchise excels at -- the superficial -- I think this Buff Bond is telling. He still wears tailored suits, but they're the flashy Italian kind, not the stolid lines from Saville Row. And he's more likely to wear a close-fitting short-sleeved shirt or even (*gasp*) a T-shirt than he is his trademark dinner jacket and bow tie.
Early in the movie, when a tubby, Hawaiian-shirted tourist mistakes Bond for the hotel valet and tosses him the keys to his car, Bond cheerfully hops to, and rams the tourist's Rover into a line of freshly alarmed cars. And it struck me: this is the Maxim Bond. I don't know if Maxim is still the "premiere men's magazine" it was five or six years ago. My sense is its heyday has come and gone, which would make its former audience the ideal Bond demographic -- young guys who don't want to be mistaken for the valet.
Expensive "casual" clothing, gadgets you can purchase at the mall (cell phones figure prominently in this movie), Bond girls who are either married and available for the night, or married to their jobs and available for a vacation only ... the flash in this movie is almost within grasp for the post-Maxim reader. If you're a man of a certain age, you don't really attend a Bond movie to see the girls -- you can get "better" on the internet. You attend to put yourself in his shoes for an hour or two, and consider for a moment what you could take from the movie to add to your own bachelor pad, to make you feel sexy and dangerous. Unlike the last few Bonds, this movie gets the surface right.
And with that observation, I shall stop -- lest I make that sound like a bad thing.