How does the chase end? Scaramanga’s AMC Matador grows wings and flies away. No, really.
Sometimes a secret agent has to improvise.
In The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton rescues a foxy cellist from bad guys on a snow covered mountain by using her cello case as a sled and her priceless antique instrument as a rudder. Sure, it gets the job done, but couldn’t the film makers have given him a cooler sled, like a big sombrero or a My Little Pony wading pool? It’s just hard to look cool inside a cello case no matter how fast you’re going. This is the point where audiences around the world decided they preferred 70 year old Roger Moore as James Bond.
There are two redeeming elements in A View to a Kill: Christopher Walken’s performance as evil industrialist Zorin and the end credits, when you realize the movie is over. It’s tough to pick out the least Bondian moment in this least Bondian of Bond films, but the wacky fire truck scene springs to mind.
Bond girl Tanya Roberts drives one of those big-ass ladder fire trucks through San Francisco with the police in hot pursuit while Bond dangles from the wildly swinging ladder. The scene is played entirely for laughs, with Roger Moore camping it up as he misses one obstacle after another. Moore bugs his eyes out and makes the most un-Bondian sounds imaginable. If you listen closely you can hear him holler, “Get me off this crazy thing!” For the first time in franchise history, you actually want Bond to die so the movie will end.
This sequence is an embarrassing bit of padding that serves no purpose other than extending the running time of the film and generating contempt from the audience. It is a deeply unfunny scene that would have been improved by the inclusion of the Benny Hill theme music and fez wearing monkeys. Perhaps we’ll get monkeys in the Special Edition DVD. One can hope.
James Bond has used about every mode of transportation known to man, with the possible exceptions of pogo stick and lame donkey. More often than not Bond operates a vehicle as cool as he is, but there are exceptions. The most un-Bondian ride has to be the Bondola from Moonraker.
Sure, the Bondola looks like a Venetian gondola, but there’s one crucial difference: the Bondola is embarrassingly stupid. Okay, two crucial differences: with the flip of a switch, Bond (Roger Moore) converts the craft from mundane gondola into high-speed turbo Bondola to escape an assassination attempt. An enemy motor boat pursues the Bondola through the canals of Venice. At one point—this is hilarious—the bad guy boat slices a regular non-turbo gondola neatly in two. The two lovers on one half of the bisected gondola are so busy kissing they don’t even notice, while the gondolier in the other half keeps rowing.
The Bondola has yet another trick up its figurative sleeve. Bond presses a button labeled “LAME” and the turbo gondola turns into a hovercraft gondola. He drives that bad boy up on to dry land and across St. Mark’s Square, blowing everyone’s mind. A waiter spills wine on a patron, another fella decides to quit drinking on the spot, and a pigeon does a double-take. Yes, a pigeon does a double-take. The Bondola freaks that pigeon’s shit out! That is comedy Moonraker-style.
Maybe Bond skipped the class on keeping a low profile in Secret Agent School.
The most outrageous “stunt” in all of the Bond films occurs in the Halle Barry film Die Another Day, which co-stars Pierce Brosnan. You’ll notice that the word “stunt” is in quotation marks to indicate sarcasm, because the entire thing is done digitally, and done poorly.
Without boring you with the details, Bond escapes from a giant space laser by para-surfing on a massive wave full of icebergs. He saves himself from icy death by sailing through the air and gently landing on the ground. The glacier tsunami mysteriously vanishes, but one can assume that it crashes into some coastal towns killing thousands of people. That’s what iceberg tsunamis do.
If there is any artistic justice, the ghost of Ian Fleming will haunt everyone involved in the creation of this scene. When you deviate that far from the original literary concept, you might as well just say fuck it and go all the way—throw a pirate ship and a giant ice squid in there and make that tsunami really dangerous.
Seattle-area comic book geek, white-collar drone, freelance writer and balding bon vivant David Campbell is the writer of the hilarious comics blog Dave's Long Box.
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