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October 15, 2013

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Shane

Skyfall is sort of a good example because the villain basically succeeds in every way if you think about it.

SPOILER

He wanted to get captured, see M again and eventually kill her. He basically does that while also killing a bunch of other people.

END SPOILER

That Fuzzy Bastard

Yeah, by the end of Skyfall, when we were supposed to be worried about Parliament decommissioning M and Bond, I kept thinking "You had the real names of all your double agents on one hard drive. You not only failed to retrive the drive, you got your senior agent shot by friendly fire. Then you plugged the baddie's storage system directly into your network with no firewall. Parliament is right: You guys are over the hill, out of your depth, and need to be put to pasture."

Jeff McMahon

M in particular is incompetent in Skyfall - she's responsible for all of the above-mentioned failures, yet the movie is ultimately about Bond's ceaseless loyalty to her long past all reason. Which is one of the reasons why I don't like the film.

Benjamin R.

I can't seem to find the reference, but I recall reading an essay or article once about how Bond really is a big mess of a spy: uses his own name, announces himself and makes himself a target, and is generally too loud to be a "secret" agent. It's an analysis that has underscored many of the arguments that Bond is a codename passed down from agent to agent, a role played by men over time, thus attempting to explain the changes in actors, ability, and tone. Still others have used this to create fiction where Bond -- or a Bond analogue -- is a bumbling distraction while the real agents get the job done while he draws fire. Ostensibly ludicrous, it does help explain why his primary method of investigation seems to be, "I'll show up, let everyone know I'm here, and see who shoots at me."

Brian D.

"I can't seem to find the reference, but I recall reading an essay or article once about how Bond really is a big mess of a spy: uses his own name, announces himself and makes himself a target, and is generally too loud to be a "secret" agent. "

That was what Roger Moore used to say in interviews, as a way of talking about why he took the parodic approach to the character.

David N

DIE ANOTHER DAY, for all its many (many many many) flaws explicitly acknowledges that when M and Rosamund Pike's character discuss Bond as more useful for the way he seems able to provoke and stir up enemies than for any skill as a "Secret" Agent.
Also relevant when you consider the way M refers to Craig-Bond as a "blunt instrument".

As for Bond screw-ups, his typical M.O. is hugely flawed; find villains HQ, break or trick his way in, get himself captured, use gadget to escape, blow place up. Whatever works, eh 007?

Oliver_C

I watched 'Goldfinger' more than a few times before realising all the warm, metallic tones and decor of Jill Masterson's hotel room are there to anticipate her 24-carat fate.

teeritz

Hall of Fame Bond Screw-Up? Casting Roger Moore.
The conceit that 'James Bond' is a code name, so as to explain the different faces of 007 over the past fifty years?
Shoot, gang, they're movies. Logic and commonsense has no place in a Bond film. ESPECIALLY in a Bond film.
This whole code name crap was first mentioned by Lee Tamahori on-set and it's seen on the extras disc of "Die Another Day". If I were Barbra Broccoli or Michael G. Wilson (yep, thrill-seekers, I'm a Bond fan), I would have fired him there and then because he was looking to explain what is basically a retcon character.
James Bond bungles? So what? That makes him more true-to-life than we thought.
"That'll be all, 007."

Oliver_C

Biggest Bond screw-up? Lee Tamahori's past two decades.

partisan

How does one tell Bond's bungling from the plot holes? In FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE his plan to get the decoder McGuffin is to simply walk in to the Soviet consulate in Istanbul just moments before he and his friends bomb it. This notwithstanding the fact that Soviet agents have been following him for several days, and presumably knows what he looks like.

Josh Z

You had to know that by asking this question, you were baiting the Skyfall haters to come out of the woodworks.

Since you asked about Bond in all his forms, I have to point out that Ian Fleming's literary Bond is basically incompetent in many of the early books. It takes him no less than 174 pages (out of 245) into Moonraker before he catches on that the megalomaniacally evil Hugo Drax might not be a perfectly legitimate and respectable businessman. He has a similar inability to recognize the obviousness of the villains' plans in many of the books.

Bond also declines to sleep with Solitaire in Live and Let Die because (no joke) he'd broken his finger and would find the prospect of lovemaking uncomfortable. That's the type of blunder the cinematic Bond would never make.

Steven Hart

Re: Goldfinger, I always liked the way the nuclear weapons expert steps in at the last moment to shut off the nuke Bond has been fumbling with, and gives 007 a fleeting glance that makes it plain he considers the agent a butterfingered oaf.

lazarus

As much as I enjoy the pre-credit sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me (arguably the best of these intros), you'd think a giant Union Jack parachute against a snowy white mountain background is just too big a target for any other enemy agents who may have been nearby.

Tom Block

"You know who would argue against Bond's competence? Jill and Tilly Masterson's parents, that's who."

Thanks--I needed that.

James Lister

The Bond-is-a-code-name argument reminds me of an article I once came across, in which someone argued that "Jim West" and "Artemus Gordon" were also code names assigned to multiple agents. This argument was made to reconcile not only the TV series and the movie, as you might expect, but also a series of paperback novels based on the TV series--novels that gave the characters different backgrounds from what the article's writer had decided they should have. Which for me defines the absurdity of this sort of discussion--once you start on it, there is no clear place to stop. (Just see, for example, the comics fans who debate which stories feature the real Doctor Doom, and which feature android doubles.)

teeritz

Boggles the mind, don't it? Some folks have too much time on their hands. Imagine the head trip for them if you mention Tarzan. Let's see 'em explain the difference between Johnny Weissmuller, Ron Ely and Christopher Lambert; "Yeah, well, 'Tarzan' is a stage-name created by the African Tourist Bureau, and what they did was, they'd hire acrobats over the years to wear a tiger-print loin-cloth and swing through the trees screaming like a banshee, to scare nosey tourists away from areas where protected species' habitats were located."

Oliver_C

On the other hand, the 'stage name' conceit works well for Lee Falk's superhero The Phantom -- a succession of masked adventurers in the exact same purple spandex, fooling others into thinking Phantom is immortal and indestructible. There was a late-80s comicbook 'The American', the debut work of sometime screenwriter Mark Verheiden, which used the same trick.

(My uncle, an Australian bit-player, was billed as "Ugly Pirate" in the 1996 Phantom movie, I kid you not...)

Jesse

Agree with the first comment - Skyfall is a good example of a screw up! Terrible

dr andrew ting

Great post.

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