James Bond isn’t always smooth. James Bond isn’t always cool. As a lifelong fan, it pains me to say it — but, sometimes, James Bond = total pants. Over 22 films (oh, all right, Bond geeks: 23 including the non-Eon produced Never Say Never Again) there have been some excruciating hands-over-the-eyes moments that make you go (for want of a better word): “Bleh.”
I don’t mean continuity errors or bloopers. I mean those scenes which make you slap your forehead in disbelief and shout ‘No, no, NO!’ at the screen.
You know what I mean: Roger Moore snowboarding to the sounds of The Beach Boys; Roger Moore climbing into a submarine that’s disguised as an iceberg. Roger Moore climbing into a submarine that’s disguised as a crocodile. Roger Moore in space. Roger Moore (do you sense a theme here?) driving a motorised gondola. Grace Jones doing anything. Eric Serra’s croon over the GoldenEye end credits. Madonna’s Die Another Day theme. Madonna’s Die Another Day cameo. Maurice Binder’s fluorescent-soaked titles for A View to a Kill. Any movie which ends with the heroine breathing: ‘Oh James!’ Jonathan Pryce’s mock ‘karate’ moves in Tomorrow Never Dies. That bit when Carole Bouquet drops her dressing gown and says: ‘For your eyes only, darling.’ And, pretty much, Moonraker, full stop.
You’ll have your own ideas, no doubt, but here’s WhatCulture!’s Top 10 Bad Bond Moments. For space reasons I’m not even beginning to include 007’s many sartorial mistakes (Sean Connery’s all-in-one towelling disaster from Goldfinger, for instance; Moore’s flares and safari suits; or Timothy Dalton’s sideburns and swept-back hair-do combo in Licence to Kill. For God’s sake: WAS there a stylist on set?). I’m not talking about the spoof version of Casino Royale (1967), either, otherwise we’ll be here all night. Instead, these are simply bits from the Eon Bond movies that should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Hell – you have to ask: why were they filmed in the first place?
10. Turning Japanese (You Only Live Twice, 1967)
Bond disguises himself as a Japanese fisherman complete with kimono, dyed skin, eye-pieces (questionable even in the 1960s, surely?) and a Beatles-style fright-wig. Only one teensy problem: Bond, in this case, is being played by a six-foot-two Scotsman (“Yesshh… thish ish my schecond life!”) and isn’t fooling anybody.
9. A Plane To Catch (GoldenEye, 1995)
Everyone loves the start of GoldenEye (you probably do, too) because of the bungee jump, which was truly breathtaking. But there is an elephant in the room… or in the pre-title sequence, at least: the moment when Bond revs up his motorbike and drives off a clifftop, freefalling after a pilotless plane. Sadly, the effects are — how shall we put this? — less than special. In fact, my seven-year-old nephew could do better using a camcorder, his Action Man and a flight of stairs. The end scenes on the satellite dish are backdrop hell, too.
8. “I Love James So Much!” (Licence to Kill, 1989)
Licence to Kill is remembered as gritty and violent. And it WAS the first Bond to have a 15 certificate — but it also featured a statue of a winking fish just before the end credits, and that can’t be right in anyone’s book.
Plus, there’s a simply terrible moment when villain’s moll Lupe (pronounced ‘loopy’ and for good reason) Lamore (Talisa Soto) tells Q that she has feelings for 007: “I love James so much!” she simpers. True, this barf-making line is ridiculed by another character a few seconds later; but it’s still slap-in-the-face awful. It’s also, dramatically, a tad out of the blue: Lupe had only met Bond a few days earlier — and on the second occasion he had, less than romantically, threatened to knife her in the throat. Plus, for an undying declaration of desire, it’s delivered with all the simmering, pent-up passion of the Shipping Forecast.
Actually, ‘I love James so much!’ is not quite so woodenly delivered as Grace Jones’ clunker: ‘HE was the man at the Eiffel Tower!” from A View to a Kill. But it’s pretty close and wins eighth place in our list simply because I feel nauseous just thinking about it.
7. Join the Q (The World is Not Enough, 1999)
The ‘Bond/Q briefing’ scene in 1964’s Goldfinger was funny and sharp (“I never joke about my work, 007.”) By the time the Pierce Brosnan era had rolled around, 31 years later, the Q moments had (not surprisingly) become predictable, pun-laden and, worse, full of forced jollity. It was always a pleasure to see the late Desmond Llewellyn pop up as the crusty gadget-master, though; even when, in GoldenEye, he is clearly reading his lines off a cue-card.
However, during the Q scene in The World is Not Enough (Desmond’s last) there are some creaking old gags (“Pipe down 007!”) and Brosnan launches into a dire knockabout routine with John Cleese as Q’s new assistant, R. Cringe.
6. Assault and Pepper (The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974)
Sheriff JW Pepper — of the Louisiana State Pol-leece (spit) — had already made an appearance for ‘comic’ effect in Live and Let Die and just about got away with it. In The Man with the Golden Gun, however, he returns and outstays his welcome two seconds after he appears, which must be some kind of record. At one point, a baby elephant pushes ole JW into a Bangkok canal (elephants are harsh critics) but, unfortunately, he doesn’t take the hint and stay there. On the subject of elephants, did you know that one plays a slot machine in Diamonds Are Forever and trumpets when it hits the jackpot? Laugh!? We thought we’d never start.
5. Watch it (Casino Royale, 2006)
Casino Royale is, arguably, the best Bond movie since 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Shame, then, that the moviemakers had to go and spoil it all by sticking a gratuitously clunky bit of product placement in the middle of the proceedings: a line of ‘dialogue’, which is so screamingly obvious (despite a clumsy attempt at camouflage) that it a) insults the audience’s intelligence and b) ruins the scene. Apologies if your eyes start bleeding as you read on — but it goes like this:
Vesper: “…MI6 looks for maladjusted young men who give little thought to sacrificing others in order to protect Queen and country. You know: former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches. Rolex?”
Morgan Spurlock, of Supersize Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold fame, says he has a “special place in Hell” for this bit of Casino Royale. And with good reason.
4. Clowning Around (Octopussy, 1983)
Bond fans everywhere: Sir Roger of Moore deserves our praise and thanks. Praise because he was a much better Bond than many (including himself) think; and thanks because, without him, the series would have ground to a halt in the late 1970s. And yet. And yet. And yet. Rog had some undeniably dire 007 moments — and this is one of them.
Bond is frantically rushing to stop a nuclear bomb detonating at Octopussy’s circus on a US airbase — and, to avoid the authorities, has to dress as a clown, complete with red nose and funny hat. The end of this scene is actually quite tense with the bomb ticking down and the unwitting police officers (doh!) trying to stop Our Hero getting near the thing before it explodes. Yet this is totally ruined because — did I mention? — Bond is DRESSED AS A CLOWN. That sound you hear is Ian Fleming turning in his grave.
3. Hello, Dolly (Moonraker, 1979)
Oh Gawd. Where do you start? After crashing Rio’s Sugar Loaf Mountain cable car through a wall (don’t ask), Jaws — a seven-foot-two assassin with steel teeth who, until this point, has erred on the psychopathic side — is rescued from the rubble by a bespectacled blonde pigtailed poppet called Dolly. He then falls ‘in lurve’ with her to the strains of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture. It’s just wrong on so many levels.
2. Death in Venice (Moonraker, 1979)
Of COURSE Roger Moore’s gondola turns into a speedboat. Did you really think it wouldn’t? If that wasn’t bad enough, it also morphs into a hovercraft and rises out of the canal, thus allowing Bond to whisk around St Mark’s Square (Gary Oldman doesn’t do this in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, in case you were wondering).
But then things really take a detour into the doo-doo when a pigeon starts double-taking; and a diner looks first at Bond and then, horrified, at his bottle of wine. (He thinks he’s had too much to drink! Do you see!?) When a waiter — distracted by the sight of a secret agent driving a motorised Gondola around the most famous square in Venice — pours vino over a customer’s head, you have to conclude that even the later Carry On movies would have binned this as below-par stuff. By the way, during the gondola chase, Alfie Bass has a coughing fit on a bridge and is billed in the credits as ‘Consumptive Italian.’ Which says it all.
1. And the winner is… (Die Another Day, 2002)
Chased by a giant death-ray (well… it happens), Bond surfs over an ice flow and away from a tsunami caused by a falling glacier, using only a parachute and bits of a crashed rocket car. Phew! Sounds exciting, doesn’t it!?
Well, that’s where you’d be wrong.
This isn’t just the worst CGI in any Bond film. This is the worst CGI in any film you’re ever likely to see anywhere, and looks as though it was knocked up on a home computer in about 20 minutes flat. It’s certainly the bit you remember about Die Another Day long after the end credits have rolled, but sadly for all the wrong reasons. For a series which prided itself on performing its own stunts, this was THE low-point. Shocking. Positively shocking.
This article was first posted on September 7, 2011