Is James Bond truly running out of style?

Some say Daniel Craig is failing as Bond, is he really to blame for the decrease in quality of the 007 films?

James Bond may be in a bit of a rut as it currently stands, but the classic hero will live on for just about forever.

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James Bond may be in a bit of a rut as it currently stands, but the classic hero will live on for just about forever.

Hayk Martirosyan, Yearbook Editor

I love, nay, adore all the James Bond films. I own and have rewatched all 23 of the Bond films at least twice, and I can practically recite scenes from the films. Despite all this, and despite my unending devotion to James Bond, I have wondered of late: Is James Bond’s formula getting old?

For the past 50 plus years, the Bond character has experienced the world. He went to Africa and fought a voodoo zombie, got blasted by the sun, went to space, fought Christopher Lee and Christopher Walken, all the while drinking martinis, playing poker, driving the best cars, and always getting the girl.

So, if isn’t obvious, Bond is designed to be the ultimate 21st century male fantasy, just as Rambo was the epitome of masculinity in the 20th century. However, times change, and over time Bond becomes more cartoony, as his formula becomes stale, and it becomes hard for people to say, “I’d love to be like Bond,” as he has become a caricature of himself.

This all is likely due to Bond being in some of the most ridiculous situations. As realistic as the modern movies, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, try to make Bond seem, it is very difficult to brush off the memories of the times Bond stabbed an anaconda with a pen, or surfed away from a laser wave from the sun, or fought an axe wielding failed Nazi experiment atop the Golden Gate Bridge.

And this fact holds true. Many of the more ridiculous Bond films — the majority of Roger Moore’s films, some of Pierce Brosnan’s, and even some of Sean Connery’s — are rated relatively low on modern review sites such as iMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. However, more thorough research reveals a more interesting side.

Reviews that were written when the given Bond film was released were strangely positive. The writers admitted to the ridiculousness of the film and yet went on to say how much they loved it. Live and Let Die, the first film starring Roger Moore that includes scenes where Bond fights Baron Samedi, an ancient African legend, and then inflates the main antagonist until he explodes, is one of the higher rated Bond films.

In his 1973 New York Times review of Live and Let Die, reviewer Roger Greenspun noted how there “is a marvelous escape from an alligator farm.” Indeed, the film contains a “superb collection of grotesque ways of killing, [with] a fine sense of pace and rhythm.” A similar theme follows the rest of the Bond films, such as Dr. No, From Russia With Love, GoldenEye, etc.

The fact dawned on me that the audience realizes the ridiculousness of James Bond. Bosley Crowther, in his 1963 review of Dr. No, said, “Of course, it’s nonsense — pure, escapist bunk, with Bond, an elegant fellow, played by Sean Connery, doing everything (and everybody) that an idle day-dreamer might like to do.” The lowest rated Bond films are the ones that don’t put in enough energy, and they don’t have the array of gadgets, stunts, sets or even a good villain.

While it is true that the plot of James Bond films often revolve around the same core concept, it is the elements around this core — the energy and excitement they evoke, as well as their ability to constantly shift and change — that make Bond movies last as long as they do. Each film adapts to the current times, to the people’s likes and dislikes. Thus, James Bond may just live on forever.