By Aaron Schott
The release of Skyfall marks twenty-three 007 movies in fifty years. After so much Bond, we have to ask ourselves: what is it about 007 that keeps us coming back to the theatre? Is it the way he’s virtually incapable of dying, even after getting shot, and tumbling over a waterfall? Is it the way he operates heavy machinery in exotic locations under stressful conditions without any apparent training, like when he fires up a hydraulic digger . . . on top of a train? Could it be the way he outmuscles the world’s quirkiest villains? In a twist reminiscent of Jaws 1, the latest villain, played by Javier Bardem, wears a pair of space age dentures. Maybe it’s the way he appeals to the bro in all of us by bedding the spy community’s hottest babes, pounding martinis like a boss, and partaking in banter that’s witty enough to make us feel sophisticated, but not so witty as to make us feel unrefined.
Let’s face it, a lot has changed since the first 007 film premiered in 1962. Octopussy, now, sounds like less of a 007 movie title and more like something you’d find in the $5 movie bin at Wal-Mart 2. And these days, the traditional Bond wouldn’t last a week working any one of our jobs without getting slammed with a litany of sexual harassment lawsuits. Moneypenny would sue his ass!
Bond’s still around because he’s changed with the times. As technology advances, his gadgets move beyond janky jetpacks and exploding pens of films past. As women have advanced in the workplace, so too have the women in Bond played more prominent roles—such as Judi Dench playing M.
Never go half hipster.
Even James Bond himself goes a little counter-cultural. While M is writing his obituary, Bond hasn’t died; he’s just gone off the grid. We find him knocking back tequila shots at an island dive bar. And instead of hosting the climactic battle at the Great Wall of China or some other exotic locale, Bond and M drive off in a vintage sports car and hunker down in a run-down Scotland mansion with nothing but a couple shotguns and a bearded old guy. All that’s missing is a record player and some ironically ugly thrift-store sweaters.
So the 007 franchise followed cultural trends and went a little hipster. So what. In Tropic Thunder, Kirk Lazarus gives Tugg Speedman some acting advice for the ages: “Never go full retard.” And in a similar vein, I would ask the writers of Skyfall, if you’re going to go hipster, why not go all the way? Never go half hipster.
Choosing Sam Mendes as a director was a step in the right direction; but for the next movie, how about Wes Anderson? Ben Stiller could play a loveably pathetic James Bond, the first ever to have a mustache. Zooey Deschanel could play a quirky yet mysteriously intriguing Bond girl. And Bill Murray would be the ultimate M! All the martinis will have to go, replaced perhaps by PBRs or locally brewed IPAs. Adele’s song in Skyfall‘s opening credit sequence was pretty bangin’, but next time how about something a little more stripped down and indie—maybe some Iron & Wine? Or better yet, something by a band we’ve never heard of before.
The 007 franchise has always been egregiously mainstream. So the hipsterized Bond will have to go done one of two routes: either have a limited DVD release in thrift stores across the country, or continue to be mainstream out of irony.