This is the 20th essay in a 23-part series about the James Bond cinemas. I encourage everyone to comment and join in on an extended conversation about not only the films themselves, but cinematic trends, political and other external influences on the series’ tone and direction.
Of [In]human #Bond_age_ #20: Inside the Tortured Mind of James Bond: Die Another Day and the Fever Dream
by James David Patrick and Matt Finch
Bond fans will engage at great length in pleasant debate regarding their favorite Bond film. They will champion GoldenEye as their favorite feature while also conceding to a fellow conversant that From Russia With Love is also a respectable choice, despite wholehearted disagreement. There’s an unspoken respect between Bond fans. You like Bond. I like Bond. Let’s be BFFs (Bond fans forever, obviously). It’s secret rule of Bond appreciation 1.97.C-35. Fellow Bond fans can like any Bond movie with impunity.
Tongues of Bond fans become more silver-tipped when discussing their least favorite Bond film. Bad Bonds slept with your mother, rubbed lemon juice in your paper cuts, took the last radish from the crudité. The danger here isn’t crucifying a Bond that someone loves (See subsection 4 under rule 1.97.C-35: Every Bond film has something “objectively lacking”). The danger is not hating a particular Bond movie enough. Oddly, this isn’t covered by one of the unwritten laws or subsections. Pick Diamonds Are Forever as your least favorite pick, prepare for hostility.
“Octopussy! The clown suit!”
“The World Is Not Enough. Christmas f’ing Jones!”
“Misogyny AND racism! Live and Let Die!”
Still, there’s one Bond that passes almost any Bad Bond litmus test. And that movie, as you might expect, is Die Another Day. I’ve been talking Bond on Twitter for a long damn time now. There’s one assertion that’s never, ever met with much resistance (I say “much” because that bold Bond fan Michael Cavacini remains on the front line of DAD defense – he’s the frontline, the entire army and commanding officer). Let’s get one thing out of the way before we go any further. Die Another Day is subjectively and objectively the least good James Bond movie. That’s called being diplomatic. Even those that have a more favorable opinion of the film accept that the movie represents a significant transgression in the Bond canon.
But a transgression from what exactly? Bond movies have always performed a tenuous tightrope act – the balance between the real and the surreal. Consider the titles that most often come up in the battles of the worst Bonds: Moonraker. Octopussy. A View to a Kill. Die Another Day. What do they all have in common? The movies most often deemed “the worst” overstep the bounds of acceptable suspension of disbelief. They lose the grounded reality of a British intelligence officer investigating threats to Western interests. (more…)