Time Past: The Other Bond Review


I found another review written under the one I posted; a side effect of having a partially working brain, I suspect. I must have knocked it out in the dead of night and forgotten about it, so I include it here as passing interest.

Here’s how you write a film script: Get commissioned. Have everyone tell you your first draft is a work of brilliant genius but we can fix it. Script becomes unrecognisable and ‘needs a bit more punch’ so the first of five new writers is brought in to add improvements. Final draft bears no resemblance to where you started. Director chops everything to bits and restitches it together with new bits added, creating Frankenscript.

‘No Time To Die’ has a Frankenscript. Taking leaves from the MCU and the Star Wars franchises, it is the perfect fan service film, all boxes ticked with callbacks from across the Craig series and more oddly, from Connery and The Greatest Film Connery Never Made, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, which would put Craig in his low hundreds.

We’re back in the world of unlikely names (Craig’s partner here is the Proustian Madeleine Swann) the disfigured supervillain (pockmarked Rami Malek, surprisingly low-key) and a master plan to destroy everything as we know it, some nonsense involving nanobots, viruses and er, bombs. Bond girls? There’s a plethora of them, paying the faintest of lip service to a woke world. Feminism? The talents of Phoebe Waller-Bridge are nowhere to be found. If this is a brave new world for women then why are there none over thirty?

Never mind, here we have M burbling plot points, Q fannying about with one-use gadgets, Moneypenny with…well, nothing, chases for bike, plane, car and boat, trips to Norway and Japan and Cuba and Jamaica and a small child, carted around between so many loud gunfights that she must now have perforated eardrums.

There are missteps; a pointless Hannibal Lector moment for Christophe Waltz that feels like a leftover from an earlier draft (I doubt many maximum security jails have designer uplighters), some awkwardly heartwarming sentiment, too many ideas left half-explored, like the explosive pellets and the poison garden, an actual Fleming invention.

Craig has a nicely vicious moment involving a car and a tree, but mostly just drifts through it all, although he emotes toward the end by crumpling his face. Much of the time he simply purses his lips in a way that reminds me of Tony Curtis in ‘Some Like It Hot’. The women are young and skinny and beautiful and therefore interchangeable, the exception being the fabulous Ana de Armas, who gets to laugh and exchange gunfire while wearing an alarmingly tiny dress. The director is Cary Joji Fukunaga, who does a terrific job of knotting everything together.

In the Evening Standard Charlotte O’Sullivan reviewed it by talking about Bake-Off, Craig’s pants and Fleabag, which is what you get if you send a girl to review a boy’s film. I’m joking, I’m joking, don’t write in.


27 comments on “Time Past: The Other Bond Review”

  1. Stu-I-Am says:

    Ana de Armas is the real deal. Look forward to her Marilyn Monroe in the adaptation of the terrific Joyce Carol Oates ‘Blonde’ fictional ‘inner life’ memoir of the actress (believe me, it’s better than it sounds or, as I describe it). From your two reviews of ‘No Time to Die’ — it sounds more like a kludged melodrama with some stunts bolted on, rather than an action film.

  2. admin says:

    …and sometimes that’s all you want.

  3. Richard says:

    The perforated eardrums line in the review made me think of the running joke in Archer. It turned up in Guns Akimbo too, a film that I still can’t come up with a considered response to.

  4. Helen+Martin says:

    I like this review better than yesterday’s because it gives me a better idea of what you saw. Now, quietly in my ear, did you enjoy it, was it fun? It sounds as if it might have been. It’s like Jimmy Carter admitting he’d lusted in his heart. We do, you know, and then repudiate the source when we come to our senses.

  5. Helen+Martin says:

    Oh, and I will never see Daniel Craig again without thinking of an Easter Island statue. Just look at that up there!

  6. Bob Low says:

    “Frankenscript” – wonderful

  7. Simon says:

    I can’t be the only person to spot that in four of the last six posts pictures of Craig and Fowler have been confusingly swapped.

  8. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    You nearly convinced me yesterday.
    I’m going to add this to list of Bond films I haven’t seen.

  9. Paul+C says:

    You beat me to it, Bob – Frankenscript is a brilliant new word (or neologism for those in fancy pants). I’m going to work it into a conversation asap.

    No intention of spending 3 hours seeing the new Bond film though (No Time to Spare) – and Daniel Craig’s grin keeps reminding me of Sid James…..

  10. Joan says:

    Well put Admin, …and sometimes that’s all you want! And to actually go into a theatre with others, wonderful.

  11. admin says:

    It was fun. When was the last time you could say that about a film?

  12. Stu-I-Am says:

    Your inspired sobriquet for the script development process is certainly insightful, but as you know, only offers a glimpse of the creatures lurking around a production. There is the ‘Blatant Beast’ (à la Spenser’s ‘Faerie Queene’ monster) with its thousand voices, including those of the producer’s mother-in-law and the studio head’s chauffeur, each with an opinion that must be carefully considered. Blatant, indeed!

    Then of course, there is Smaug, the bean counter, who guards the production budget, insisting his back garden would serve just as well for a location and at a far more reasonable cost (until forced to resign for ‘health reasons’ relating to the financial health of the production company). And whilst we’re borrowing from Tolkien, let’s not forget Balrog the director, that fearsome being with his fiery whip-like tentacles, who strains even the already pretentious concept of ‘auteur’ by inserting himself into absolutely every decision, including who gets to eat lunch at the adult table during production (if that actually happens).

    Which leads me to a final point. You would think that the work of a production company is to produce films, now wouldn’t you ? But you would be wrong. It is to produce meetings — endless, soul numbing, but well-catered. meetings. It is an exercise in PSYOPS that makes the goings-on behind ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ look like a book club gathering — the goal being to break down the hapless scribbler to a state where they are only too happy to agree to anything for a chance to beat a retreat — until the next meeting.

  13. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Simon You’re on to something. And just to confirm it, I direct all and sundry to the ‘SOUNDS LIKE JAMES BOND’ blog entry from 1st Aug 2011 (a search for ‘James Bond’ is the quickest route).

  14. Helen+Martin says:

    Ah, Stu, and I believe I remember a post in which you admitted that you have, in fact, written for the big screen. This either colours or validates your description above.

  15. Wayne+Mook says:

    Now the real question is did the supervilians have cats and if so what kind? Now the most famous is Donald Pleasence’s Blofeld’s cat, unnamed, but is it a Turkish Angora or a Persian?

    Shame they never went for the Danger Mouse fluffy caterpillar, Nero.

    Why am I asking this, the cat came back for Spectre but does it return for the new one?

    These are the important things we need to now.


    Footnote: on the Labour conference, I still don’t know what Starmer represents, and the culling of the left was decisive, for all the faults of Blair/Brown they dealt with the left in a way that did not throw them out of the party, turning the back on parts of the traditional party is what caused the problems now. On the BBC rolling news there were a number of talking heads (both left and right) who all agreed he had a good conference, in that he doesn’t look incompetent and modest. A safe pair of hands by doing nothing makes him electable, I’m not so sure myself.

  16. Paul+C says:

    Which films have you written, Stu ?

  17. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Paul +C Thanks for asking but decency and what I have left of my pride (along with the need to protect the innocent) prevent me from revealing them at this time. I understand they are now being used in interrogations by several intelligence services.

  18. Ed+DesCamp says:

    Completely off piste, but from here, it would seem that the police “safety tips” offered in response to the Sarah Everard rape/murder would truly need a PCU-like response to restore public trust. Shocking.

  19. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Paul +C A final word on my filmic ‘canon’ you asked about. The two ‘high quality’ porn films, two ‘chase’ films and one mystery-cum-horror cinematic travesty that make it up are not even vaguely worth remembering (so I try not to…). Unmemorable, that is, except as I have noted a couple of times in comments, for the dramatis personae  and the goings-on in and around the productions. — on which I have been dining out for years. And which would likely even make P.G. Wodehouse or perhaps, more apt, Georges Feydeau, sit up and take notice — if they could, of course.

  20. Stu-I-Am says:

    Although ‘No Time to Die’ has and will debut in cinemas, it may be one of an endangered species as the previously dominant exclusive window distribution scheme begins to “lose mortar.” The time a big-budget film (especially) will always open first in a cinema may slowly be coming to an end, hastened by the streaming services — themselves certainly aided and abetted by the pandemic.

    There are, of course, all kinds of financial reasons (almost exclusively for the studios) for the ascendency of the Netflix et al in the distribution scheme of things, but others include the availability of almost instantaneous audience analytics and price sensitivity (with variable pricing) and even on the creative side, with the blurring of previously distinct production values between TV programmes and traditional cinema fare. Even with telly screens now reaching almost 7.5 m, it may be that cinemas may ultimately be reserved for films heavy on stunts and special effects to allow for the full immersive experience (like ‘No Time to Die.’) I wonder if we’ll otherwise miss the communal cinema experience (and overpriced concessions), if it ever comes to that ?

  21. Joan says:

    The Communal Cinema experience will never be replaced with the streaming services! I think we are all a little tired of sitting in front of the TV. When you go out to the movies with friends it becomes a social event, topped off by coffee or dinner and a discussion about the film. In the cinema we are all transported to laughter or tears, and for a couple of hours are bonded with strangers, sharing emotion. Can’t do that at home no matter how big your screen is!

  22. Paul+C says:

    Thanks, Stu – looks like an interesting career and hope to read some of your anecdotes in future

  23. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Paul+C Thanks, but my screenwriting was more of momentary diversion from an otherwise sober career — fortunately for the cinema-going public. More a matter of happenstance — which irritated the hell out of the many (certainly in Los Angeles) who seemingly always had an unproduced script to offer along with their CV — but there it is (or was…) And, as I said, other than perhaps earning me a bit more coin at the time than warranted, it did provide almost the same return in amusing memories over the years.

  24. Peter+T says:

    The great advantage of the cinema is the total Immersion, the absence of distraction. The food, drink and discussion are after or before rather than during. It multiplys the pleasure even when there are few stunts and SFX. My best memories of film are likes of classic Bogart and Sherlock Holmes at the Arts Cinema. I’d seen them many times on TV, but it wasn’t the same.

    However, I do share the opinion, widely held in the part of England where I grew up, that, if you can get a TV into your house without taking a wall out, the screen is too small.

  25. Helen+Martin says:

    My favourite after film social event was being stopped by the police after we had taken our young son to a Disney film. They were checking for alcohol consumption but quickly turned it into a film review session as one of the officers was thinking about taking a nephew to see it. Most entertaining meetup with police I’ve ever had.
    I have only “regular” tv and no streaming service at all so I may have to wait until copies are obtained by our library in future.

  26. Stu-I-Am says:

    @Helen+Martin That’s not what RCMP records show, Helen. The real story appears to be that you and friends went to see ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, telling everyone it was a film about hairdressing. Afterward, you stopped at your local for something to dampen the disappointment. But your secret is safe with me.

  27. Paul+C says:

    For a while I genuinely thought the title was Filthy Shades of Grey……..

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