Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Maximizing Bond

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.


DarkoV said...

...and what car, if I may ask, were you driving home with your lovely spouse after this invigorating movie? Did it seem as if it had miraculously picked up some horsepower while you were at the theatre? Or was that you who had added some vrooooom to your own personal engine?

Whisky Prajer said...

The only "movie" car you'd confuse our Toyota Echo with would be Mr. Bean's vintage Austin Mini. As for my "personal engine", I'll reserve comment for a possible future blog in which my anonymity can be safely resumed.

Anonymous said...

funny you should say that

Maxim + Bond = SYNERGY!

ill bet the marketing geeks love this shit

Trent Reimer said...

Your wife has a point - Bond is a dish. Oh crap! That didn't sound right! What about those Chicago Bears?

Whisky Prajer said...

Anon - Surprise, surprise. I wonder how much Omega paid to have Bond verbally plug their watch. I don't really "get" this business of product placement - Just because he used a nail-gun on a baddie, doesn't make me any more inclined to stroll the "nail gun" aisle at Home Depot. Mind you, some of his sunglasses were pretty fab.

tr - dishy Craig may be, but he sure ain't no "Metrah-sex-you-all"!

paul bowman said...

Nail gun, eh? Maybe there's a sliver of an excuse to see this movie after all. : )

Hasn't that been done, by the way — one of the Lethal Weapons?

Whisky Prajer said...

I think one of the Die Hards resorted to nail-gun violence, too. Alas, no-one's tried to introduce the sponge-sander to an action sequence, yet.

Scott said...

Darkov, this one's for you:

The James Bond films have historically opened in November, deliberately for the Christmas market and accidentally for my father's birthday. Ever since Timothy Dalton's debut in The Living Daylights, my dad and I have celebrated his birthday by checking out the latest Bond film together. We grew increasingly distant over Pierce Brosnan, but Casino Royale brought us back together like a high-octane Field of Dreams.

It's the car thing that brings me here, though. On a Friday night in 1989, we were driving home from a screening of Licence to Kill. I was 18; Dad had turned 43. I was enthusiastic about the movie; he shrugged and said Dalton was "okay but he's no Connery."

As we pulled up to a red light, a black car slid up beside us, on the driver's side of our truck. That familiar John Barry-Monty Norman twang guitar poured from the speakers and we leaned forward to look at the driver -- a tall, slim blond man wearing sunglasses at ten o'clock at night. As the light turned green, the black car screeched ahead, taking the action theme with it. We glimpsed the rapidly-shrinking licence plate that read 'BOND.'

The car was a small black Hyundai Excel.

Our drive home took 20 minutes. We laughed the entire trip.