Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Most Bondian Moments # 13-16

13. Octopussy

You have to admit that Octopussy is an insanely bad title for a film. Or a book. Or a football team. Octopussy is pretty much a bad name for anything but a spunky all-girl neo-punk band.
As a young man I was embarrassed to ask for a ticket at the box office. I think I just muttered and pointed out what movie I wanted to see. Now of course I suffer from no such embarrassment, and I like to hear the word roll of my tongue. Octopussy. Say it with me. Octopussy. It’s fun, isn’t it? Octopussy, Octopussy, Octopussy. I just like how it sounds, particularly on crowded buses or in elevators. Octopussy! Try saying it in public today!

The most Bondian moment in Octopussy is the pre-credit sequence in Cuba, where a disguised 007 escapes from the commies in an Acrostar, the smallest jet in the world. Bond evades a heat-seeking missile by flying the jet into a huge warehouse. At the far end, bad guys struggle to push the hangar doors close, but Bond busts a Han Solo move and flies sideways through the narrowing gap. The missile on his tail destroys the whole damn warehouse and everybody inside. D’oh!

I always wondered: what the original plan was of the soldiers inside the hangar who are trying to close the door? "Quick, close the door so the gringo spy can crash directly over our heads, showering us with wreckage and burning jet fuel!"

14. Live and Let Die

Geoffrey Holder plays the voodoo lord Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die.
Does Samedi have supernatural powers, or is he just a tool used by drug villain Katanga to keep the superstitious locals in check? Who cares? It’s Geoffrey Holder! Crisp and clean, no caffeine! Ha ha ha! I adore Geoffrey Holder and everything he stands for, so I’m giving him the Bondian shout out.

15. Licence to Kill

The two Dalton movies each have my favorite stunt sequences in the entire franchise: the battle between Necros and Bond on a bucking cargo net hanging off the back of a plane in The Living Daylights, and the barefoot waterskiing gag in Licence to Kill.

This film, much-maligned by Bond purists, was a rarity in the franchise: a box office dud. Licence to Kill is a more personal and street-level story than most Bond films. Audiences were underwhelmed by Bond’s quest for vengeance against a drug lord and many people were critical of the film’s violence. Plus, Bond orders a Budweiser in this movie. A fucking Budweiser. Not okay.

There are a couple of nuggets of Bondian gold hidden in the film. There’s an absolutely huge gas tanker explosion at the end of the film that is particularly impressive to fans of absolutely huge explosions. I read an interview with Dalton where he claims that during the filming of the scene, he was running from the pyrotechnic charge towards the camera when he felt a huge wave of heat and saw all the camera crew running away in terror from the rapidly expanding fireball. When the camera guys run, you know you’ve got a big frickin’ explosion.

The other moment of Bondian radness is the waterski sequence. In short, Bond wreaks havoc on a drug smuggling yacht, then goes underwater with SCUBA gear to sabotage a drone submarine that shuttles drugs beneath the surface from the yacht to a nearby sea plane full of money. Bond gets jumped by speargun wielding frogmen who don’t take kindly to the British agent screwing up their drug/money exchange.

Bond grabs a speargun during the struggle and shoots up at one of the departing sea plane’s pontoons. A thin cable unspools from the spear and the plane yanks him to the surface and away from the enemy divers.

The plane is building up speed, trying to take off. Bond pops to his feet and begins barefoot waterskiing behind the plane. He swings out wide until he’s skiing nearly parallel with the sea plane. Cue that theme music.

Bond yanks hard and shoots himself toward the plane, slamming into one of the pontoons. He hooks a support strut and just like that he’s on the plane, which is now airborne. Bond defenestrates the pilot and co-pilot and commandeers the plane – which is loaded with a fortune in drug money. Score.

I love that scene. The rest of the movie plays like a Miami Vice episode with British accent, but man, that scene kicks all kinds of ass.

16. The World is Not Enough

Feh. I have no love for this movie, but I can't rank it as worse than the Truly Bad Bond Movies. I guess the scene where he shoots Elektra Knight is Bondian, I dunno.


Anonymous said...

I always say Octopussy is the best of that era, because they put Roger Moore in a clown suit. By that time the Bond movies had devolved into self-parody and the character had become a joke; putting Moore in a clown suit was both justice and an honest acknowledgement of the state of the franchise. Also, Giant Killer Yo-Yo of Death! And, man with octopus stuck to face. Probably the only Roger Moore effort I truly love.

The World is Not Enough had some good bits. Well, at least a couple. The shooting of Elektra King was badass. And... uh... Okay, I only bought the DVD because my girlfriend at the time had never seen a Bond movie, and having just shown her Dr No (they didn't have From Russia With Love) I wanted her to see how bad it could get.


Anonymous said...

Dave, I'd be interested in your best 5 Bond theme songs. For me, I'd push for "Live and Let Die".

Anonymous said...

What's that movie with the comedic underwater barroom brawl? There are guys in cowboy hats breaking chairs over each other's backs, and somebody even gets thrown through a set of swinging saloon doors. This isn't exactly Bondian, but this post reminded me of it.

Anonymous said...

live an d let die has no redeeming values besides the title song

Licence to kill has a great bondian scene where Bond pushes everette mc gill's corrupt cop character to a pool full of sharks throwing a suitcase full of money telling him
"You earn it you keep it!!"

Anonymous said...

I really like T.W.I.N.E. the pre-credits bit is excellent and the bit with Q is really cool too. I thought it was much better than the 2nd and 4th Brosnan Bond films.

The Tensor said...

"Octopussy is pretty much a bad name for anything but a spunky all-girl neo-punk band."

I'm disappointed, Dave. That sentence should clearly have read "eight-girl neo-punk band".

You redeemed yourself with "spunky", though. Well played.

David C said...

I think Octopussy is probably the best-executed example of the Moore-era Bond movie. Not the best Bond movie starring Moore, but the one that best *uses* the over-the-top style of that era.

Often silly, but it's got some nice action scenes, and when they're trying to be funny, there's a better chuckle-to-groan ratio than in most of them.

Rowan Lipkovits said...

JNick, you're thinking of Val Kilmer's Top Secret! ... which is falling pretty far from the Bond tree 8)

Anonymous said...

I applaud your use of the word "defenstrate."

Edward Liu said...

I second the recommendation of the motorboat chase part of the opening sequence of T.W.I.N.E. as the most Bondian event of the film. The bit where he straightens his tie underwater is hilarious, and the fact that it puts Maria Grazia Cucinotta in a skin-tight leather jumpsuit for the duration doesn't hurt. She was the female lead in Il Postino (The Postman, a great Italian film about how to use poetry to woo hot women, not the Kevin Costner thing about the importance of the mail in post-apocalyptic America). Supposedly, the producers wanted her to be one of the Bond girls for the movie, but she turned them down because she thought her English wasn't good enough.

If only Denise Richards had said the same thing...

Anonymous said...

I can't believe no one has mentioned that TWINE gave us Desmond Llewelyn's stylish retirement scene. Q has always been a staple of Bond movies, and his dignified exit -- especially diven the actor's death a year or so later -- was something I found very touching.

Plus, it skewers John Cleese: "If you're Q, does that make him R?"

-- Eric B

Gregory said...

TWINE features a helicopter buzzsaw chopping up a pier. THAT'S a Bond moment for the list.

Anonymous said...

I've never understood the bile about The World Is Not Enough. It's my favorite of Brosnan Bonds, but was dead last in Entertainment Weekly's ranking of the series. (Really? Worse than A View to a Kill?)

The motorboat chase is kick-ass, as is the attack of the buzzsaw-equipped helicopters. Furthermore, I find Elektra to be one of the most fascinating villains of the entire series, not only as one of the few females who are not minions of a male character, but as one with a relatively convincing backstory and motivation.

Finally, while I know that the film gets a lot of guff for having Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist, I thought it was a brilliant choice. In the world of James Bond, where people have names like Auric Goldfinger and Mary Goodnight, of course the nuclear scientists are going to look like Denise Richards.

Octopussy is good fun, plus it gives Q an expanded role. There are a couple of moments that I hate (telling the tiger to sit), but it's no Moonraker.

monica said...

>Also, Giant Killer Yo-Yo of Death!

I distinctly remember, in the Octopussy closing credits, that guy being listed as "Thug with yo-yo."

Anonymous said...

Sophie Marceau as Elektra King is my favorite Bond Girl/Bond villain ever.

And she should play Wonder Woman!

Anonymous said...

T.W.I.N.E. also deserves credit for expanding Judi Denchi's role as M, and featuring the return of Robbie Coltrane's Valentin Zuchovsky character.

You know, now that I think about it, The World Is Not Enough is actually pretty good except for Denise Richards, an overcomplicated plot, and that goofy action scene in the oil pipeline. Too bad -- other than those problems it's pretty solid.

Octopussy's pre-credit sequence is a standalone, which is perfect because it's the only part of the movie you need to watch.

Anonymous said...

"live and let die has no redeeming values besides the title song"

The young Jane Seymour is a redeeming value in and of herself.

Anonymous said...

The creepy part about Octopussy is that "Octopussy" was her Dad's nickname for her when she was a girl. Is it just me, or does anyone else sense wrongness there?

But yeah, you gotta give it up for Geoffrey Holder, the 7UP Uncola guy. And young Jane Seymour. Not the mention the white Pimpmobile--I'd totally drive one of those.

Anonymous said...

Halojonesfan: Agreed about Dalton's performances. He's a very skilled actor; too bad he didn't have a script worthy of his take on Bond.

I'll thrown in a bit of defense of The World is Not Enough: Robert Carlyle's henchman Renard. He can't feel pain because a bullet is lodged in his brain: too bad that bullet is killing him. Carlyle doesn't play him as a madman, but a sad, tragic figure with no options but to fight for a woman he knows doesn't truly love him. It's the best acting in the film.

K.Fox, Jr. said...

i guess... lol, i don't think i've even seen that one.

David C said...

One problem with Dalton is that we never really got to see a "typical Timothy Dalton James Bond movie."

The Living Daylights was still envisioned as a Roger Moore vehicle for most of its preproduction. And while it was retooled a bit for Dalton, it's not quite "his" movie.

License To Kill is more a Dalton movie, but it's a purposely atypical "change of pace" James Bond movie, in which he's in the unusual situation of being on his own, on a strictly personal mission, not to mention screwing up bigtime as a result. It's a good, underrated movie, IMO, but atypical.

Anonymous said...

This should be a Bondian moment, too:


Mister Sinister said...

Samedi is the badassest of all his villains because HE LIVES THROUGH IT ALL!

he gets shot at (a clay statue)
shot at some more.

In a rather douchey way, gets almost blindsidingly just batted into a conviniently open coffin of snakes which he FAKE-falls into & rolls on for several minutes screaming FAKEly.

He shows up later somehow on the front of the train watching the teehee Julius Harris fall off it after being "dis-armed" *chuckle*

The Thunderball battle was good but too damn long. I took a dump, made & ate a sandwich, went on the Internet & then glanced back & became re-interested when Bond showed up again when his new bitch stabbed Largo aka #2 *chuckle*

Samedi then just laughs. He f'in laughs his Holden laugh & sits on the front of the train being able to use voodoo to stay on a train's front w/o being burned or falling off. The only other survivor was Jaws who only bit off a wine bottle along w/ his obligatory girlfriend person. He just gets pissed & shoves Drax once or twice. He sucks. He was brought back to be laughed at.




the feeling you get when 52 ends.

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