The Bond Genome, Shaken & Stirred

November 12th, 2012 by Uri

007, Her Majesty’s favorite secret agent (and probably everybody else’s – Judging from the great critical and commercial responses) celebrates a jubilee – a pretty remarkable achievement for a film series. Just think of it; when Dr. No, the first “official” Bond film, came out in 1962, its counterparts were a film by legendary westerns director John Ford and an Elvis film…

So, giving a cultural icon due respect, here are some James Bond highlights:

Essential – Dr. No

True, it is a 50 year old film and might feel a bit dated, but it still remains an essential viewing for anyone who wants to know the blueprint for every world-saving spy film made since. Plus, it has the best introduction scene.

Underrated – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

George Lazenby had the unfortunate job of following Sean Connery, and – maybe unsurprisingly – got a rather negative reception. However, over the years viewers have come to appreciate Bond’s Swiss escapades and tragic love affairs, as one of the most underrated entries in the series.

Underwater – The Spy Who Loved Me

Not one to confine himself to dry land, 007 goes underwater in numerous films, but nowhere more extensively than in his 1977 reincarnation, where he must stop two hijacked nuclear submarines from starting World War III. As the good people of Q Branch presumed, an amphibious car may be useful.

Megalomania – Moonraker

In a series known for the grand schemes of its villains, a man must go to extra lengths to be regarded as the most megalomaniac evildoer. Well then, how does eradicating the entire human race in order to create a new superhuman species, to whom you’ll be a God, sound to you?

Well done, Hugo Drax!

Slick – The Man with the Golden Gun

While being slick is a basic requirement for every Bond, no one was slicker than Roger Moore, and he had to be at his slickest in The Man with the Golden Gun, facing the almost equally slick golden-gun-toting-three-nipple-having-peanut-eating-dwarf-henchman-aided Scaramanga.

The Remake – Never Say Never Again

Granted, the Bond series is formulaic, and in some lesser films has been very lazy and uninspired (the insipid invisible car in Die Another Day comes to mind), but there has never been a flat out remake. Not an official remake, anyway, since Sean Connery‘s return in 1983 for one last round of gratuitous sex and violence in this mildly successful attempt to update Thunderball.

Love and Romance – Casino Royale

Being portrayed as a relentless womanizer throughout most of his cinematic run, it was a refreshing change of pace to see James Bond fall in love in the middle of all of his heroic missions. Having a rougher feel than almost all of his predecessors, also helped make Casino Royale another essential entry in the Bond canon.

Vengeance – Licence to Kill

While Daniel Craig’s films are often described as the most brutal Bonds, they are actually far behind this late 80′s effort by Timothy Dalton, in which 007 goes on a trail of vengeance, granting himself his own license to kill freely and bloodily.

Back from the Dead – Skyfall

Having come back from the dead at least once before, in the aptly titled and slightly campy You Only Live Twice, Bond manages to do it again, this time in a grittier, more somber fashion in the excellent (though a bit long) Skyfall. It reintroduces some emblematic elements that can serve as a neat closure, not only for the current Bond, but for the entire cycle.

Warning:

Worst Bond – Quantum of Solace

Following the impressive reiteration of the Bond myth in Casino Royale, expectations from its follower were quite high, but the film was a disjointed mess and a total disappointment, which only had one slightly memorable scene, covering poor Gemma Arterton in crude oil as a sloppy homage to the far superior Goldfinger.

Gemma Arterton

Bonus:

Best Bond – Goldfinger

Widely (and justly) considered as the best Bond film ever, Goldfinger boasts not only the coolest Bond car (the iconic silver Aston Martin DB5, which appeared in 5 bond films to date – that’s one more than Pierce Brosnan) but also the best and wittiest master villain.

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