Why Quentin Tarantino Needs to Direct a Bond Film|
By Jesse W
July 14, 2004
So why does he? Simple: Bond is getting old. Despite huge numbers for Die Another Day, no one is under the illusion (or DElusion if you'd like) that any new Bond film is going to be tremendously different from it's predecessor: gorgeous women, deadly henchmen, megalomaniacal villains, gadgets galore, etc. However, you might be saying that no one is really complaining about that fact, and beyond your average film critic, you'd be right, no one is - as the aforementioned box office for Die Another Daydemonstrates. But tastes change - even if Bond doesn't. The Mania of the 60's wore off, even though Bond's kept getting bigger and bigger and, supposedly, delivering what audiences wanted.
Roger Moore's charms eventually ran dry after Moonraker, (phenomenally successful despite being phenomenally awful) even though the 80's Bond's "returned to the roots." Sorry, no dice. But when audiences really get something different out of Bond, something they really don't expect, that fits in perfectly with the times - look what happens. You get Goldfinger: bigger, funnier, sexier. On Her Majesty's Secret Service: classic in every respect of the word. The Spy Who Loved Me: campy, outrageous fun coming at a time when Bond was becoming stogier with every following film.
Goldeneye: a film that SAVES Bond - quite literally - for this generation (despite how good or bad some feel it was). What's my point? Sure Die Another Day was big, but fan's have soured on it rather quickly, and most of the movie going public isn't absolutely clamoring for the next one: they simply expect it at some point. The solution? Quentin. Why? Well, for starters, he's a fan. That's a plus, ain't it guys? What fan, which one of you reading this, doesn't have an awesome Bond movie on spin-cycle in your cerebral cortex? Second, has he made a bad film yet? Well, depends on your tastes to be sure, but not one of his films don't have something of a following, be it cult, critical, or mainstream. But most importantly, being a fan means respect - respect for what Bond is and where he came from. No more Jinxes outshining James-freakin'-Bond, he's JAMES-FREAKIN-BOND! NO ONE outclasses him. No more silly world-domination plots, not because they're tired or bad, no, because they keep ripping off THEIR OWN! Did anyone find Die Another Day’s ending familiar? I half expected a drag-queen version of Blofeld to stroll by and slap Rosemund Pike for being prettier than him. But I digress.
Anyway, Bond is Bond - plain and simple. You can play with him, tweak him, but only so far until he looses what's appealing about him - the surprise, the danger, the sexuality, the FANTASY...and a fan knows this. Third: style baby. Quentin knows style, and Bond is (most often) all about style. Moreover, he NEEDS some style back - the Bond's are loosing their glamour - and not the kind that's promised in every Norelco commercial featuring Pierce or Revlon spot with Halle, but the otherworldly class, the decadence. As great as, say, The World is Not Enough was, it's atypical of the loss of Bondian innocence...sure the story stays largely as straight-forward as before, but in trying to be mature they sacrificed the style. Why does Bond escape from a mission with a jetpack? Why not. Why are Bond's hotel rooms the size of most Hotel 6 lobbies? Because Ken Adam was a genius and such a thing didn't exist in OUR world. But in Bond's? That's his norm. Oh, but we aren't just talking aesthetic style, we can talk storytelling style as well.
Look at any ONE of Quentin's flicks and tell me you can't see him translating an Ian Fleming novel to the screen. That love of all things non-linear, of telling you what he WANTS you to know WHEN he wants you to know, as opposed to showing his cards forty minutes in and throwing explosion after explosion in your face. Development. Unusual pacing. Fourth: Yup, there's more. Financially, Quentin makes perfect sense. What is his most expensive film? Kill Bill cost about $60 million, something Bond films make in a week. Let alone an opening for a movie tagged as "From the director of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill comes the next James Bond..." He's stated over and over how he'd spend about $40 million on a hypothetical Bond film of his, and by doing so, he can't loose. No Bond film COULD make less than that. Inflation adjusted, I don't think any of the previous one's have (well, I'll just brush Mr. Dalton's contributions under the rug for a minute...but we'll come back to that later...). Essentially, for the bang for buck, you're getting off pretty good here MGM. Play around a little! Let him go! You have nothing to lose. Course, they have EVERYTHING to lose when it comes to Bond don't they, I mean, what is MGM without him? Absolutely nadda. MGM lately is the rogue piece of gum on the shoes of Disney, Fox, Warner, Universal, etc. BUT Quentin's no box office slouch and they should realize that.
Quentin’s little ode to Grindhouse cinema has racked in more dough in three weeks than any REAL Grindhouse movie ever made. What can that mean for Bond...? Fifth: have I mentioned storytelling? A little? Well, I'm going all the way this time: the guy knows characters and he knows how to move a story along. And to make a movie boueyed by action sequences actually HAVE a story. Not that most Bond's don't, but, again, I'll use Die Another Dayas a whipping-boy and say...well, you get the idea. Plain and simple, I think if anyone, Quentin is the guy who can put Fleming's self-doubting, demon- plauged, cold-blooded Bond on the screen without making him...well, Timothy Dalton. No offense to Dalton or his fans (I'm a Dalton fan - just not of his Bond - if he's fighting the Rocketeer then I love the guy). Plus, even in quieter moments: scenes of exposition, throw-away dialogue, love making - the plot is still going - the story still has momentum.
David Carradine's Superman speech in Kill Bill Vol. 2 had more character-building/story peppering inherent to it than two hours each of getting to know Gustav Graves, Elektra King or Elliot Carver. You know I could go on and on...and I think I will. Naw, but I will say that one BIG plus on his side for me is that he'd go period. Who doesn't think Bond is a creature of the Cold War? Of the noir-ish 50's (according to Fleming) or the swining 60's (according to EON)? Since computer screens appeared in Bond's universe I've just felt...sad. I miss the damn Bell jetpacks, the DB-5's (thank you for throwing me that bone GoldenEye), the jazzyness, the looseness...where is it all? Viewing those films now makes the fantasy all the more hightened and yet Bond's world all the more real. "Yes, this DID happen, but that was the 60's, people aren't like that now of course." COURSE the 60's wasn't a Bond movie, but we can imagine it was from now. Put him back where he belongs, behind a score of synthesizers/jazz groups and bellowing pop-divas and dissing The Beatles in between sleeping with a soon to be golden gal and chilling his bottle of Don Peringon 53.
Well I'm done. Except for one thing: the number one and the absolute ONLY reason Quentin will not ever be allowed to make a Bond movie: he demand's control over his films. As do the Broccoli's. And damn them for it. I mean, thank god for EON and for the hours of entertainment they've given us with that stiff-ass Brit, but damn them for almost never taking a chance with him. Which brings me back, as promised, to tiny Tim. What happened there? Why were The Living Daylights and License to Kill - the most Fleming-esque Bond films since From Russia With Love - essentially flops? Because they left out fun. Bond isn't Tom Clancy. He doesn't make you think "Good god! Look at all these madmen running around, we're not safe in this world!" He doesn't force you to look at issues. He's driven, he's internally grim and even on occasion full of self-loathing and confusion - but dammit - he goes out and he does the job, with a martini in his hand, a hot girl on his arm and a wink in his eye. And we love him for it. As gritty as you might want to make the violence, as dark as you might want to make his villains, as evil as their plans or motives might be, don't forget that we're in a dream - a NeverNever Land of espionage That's what we want when we go into a Bond movie. Pure and simple.
The Broccoli's of course aren't stupid. They know that's what people want - a big, loud, sex charged, espionage-fantasy - and that's what they continue to give us. Should we complain? No. But to what end will they keep this up? Reinvention has come and gone before and it's on its way here again. Sticking to your usual tricks ain't gonna keep people in those seats with a popcorn in their lap Barbara and Michael! Give us all something different - just once! Something stylish, dark, fun and on a tiny budget - I mean, 40 million bucks? You guys probably spend that much on Pierce's ties. Take a chance. It's not even a big chance! Believe me, as a Bond fan, a film fan and an "average movie-goer," it'll pay off in spades.
Article written by Jesse W