The 007 recipe: How to make a great Bond film
What makes a good James Bond film? Well, a James Bond movie is like a recipe… you have the same ingredients, with some variation, in every film. But with every recipe, you have variables beyond just the ingredients – if you screw up the ratios by adding too much of something, or undercook it… you’ll end up with a mess. So a good cook, someone to balance out things and pays attention, is critical. That’s usually the director, and all you need to do is compare Quantom of Solace and Skyfall to see how important that role is.
So, without further ado, here’s the ingredients to make a good 007 flick:
Two parts exotic locations
Bond lives a life that most of us can only dream of – visiting some of the world’s most exotic and beautiful locations. A Bond movie without stunning scenery simply isn’t done… to quote Bond in Goldfinger, “it’s like listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”
Three parts a high-stakes threat
It could be a global threat or something very personal – whatever it is, the stakes should be obvious and (optimally) horrifying. If Bond fails in his mission, things get bad. It’s why Bond must win.
Four parts a good Bond actor
You can have all the ingredients right, but if the lead actor playing Bond isn’t up to the job… well, you get On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. A fantastic Bond film, that falls short because of the weak performance of George Lazenby. He tries, gosh darn it, but he just doesn’t do the part justice.
Five parts action
Bond films must have action, and these set pieces should be big and jaw-dropping. Optimally, real stunts (with real stunt people) will be used – CGI action in Bond films tends to be more laughable than dramatic (I’m looking at you, Die Another Day). Skyfall inverted the traditional “bigger action sequences as the film goes along” by putting the biggest sequence at the beginning… it worked for Skyfall, but may not work a second time.
A dash of the ludicrous
A henchman with iron teeth? A woman named Pussy? Bond films all contain some pretty incredulous characters and situations… A vital part of the franchise that is taken directly from the Fleming novels. Only apply awash, though… too much and you get the semi-truck popping a wheelie in License to Kill. Viewers will only believe so much.
Five parts a good villain and/or henchman
Bond needs an adversary, and if that adversary is thin gruel… you get a boring film. You want Bond to win, but more than that, you want the villain to get his or her comeuppance. This is one area that the Bond films have struggled with throughout the history of the series, because of the standards set so many years ago. It’s hard to top a villain like Goldfinger.
A full measure of scope and spectacle
Bond movies should be BIG, they are blockbusters (some would say one of the original summer blockbusters was Thunderball). So, go big or go home. Budget? What budget?
A sprinkle of nudity
Bond films are male fantasies for the most part and men really like seeing women naked. Or partly clothed in lingerie. Don’t disappoint us, Bond films. It’s not like we can see half-naked women on the Internet… Oh, wait.
Three parts great music
Bond films have great music and great songs, and a Bond film without that famous theme just don’t work as well. Ask Never Say Never Again.
A sprinkling of bad puns
Again, just a sprinkling – don’t go all Roger Moore on us.
A tip of the hat to the past
If you need advice on the proper way to do this, just note how the Aston Martin DBV was used in Skyfall. Do something like that. And don’t overdo it, because too much will come off as cloying and sentimental. Bond films should be continuing to move forward, to reinvent itself… because I want to see Bond refreshed anew for as long as I live. I want to know, no matter what… that James Bond will return.
There you have it. Bake at 300 degrees for, oh, about two hours, and you should have a tasty Bond film. Bon appetite!