...yeah, no. Bond’s been here before. After the last Moore movie, Timothy Dalton played James Bond for two installments, showing a much more professional and tough take on the character, and his second outing, Licence To Kill, has a lot in common with the new direction of the Bond movies - in particular, with Quantum Of Solace.
Let’s see how.
And then we progress to both their sequels.
Quantum Of Solace, on the other hand, shows a Bond regressing towards his old sociopathy, with the final implication of the last movie (him getting closer to a traditionally cool and efficient Bond) retconned as we watch him regress back to psychopathy, picking up a take-no-prisoners attitude with little regard for their use in questioning, dumping bodies of friends off the side of the road with little respect and looting their bodies because, in his words, “[they] wouldn’t care”. While his arc does come to a close by him sparing a man’s life in the end, it’s immediately undercut with the implication that he happily left another villain to die.
Also, while the sexuality of the James Bond movies have always been troubling (women fighting over him, falling for him even after being blackmailed or otherwise forced into bed), Licence To Kill and Quantum Of Solace have explicit references to sexual assault and rape. You’ve got a young Benicio Del Toro creepily saying, “We gave her a nice honeymoooooooon” and you’ve got an evil exiled general gifted a gagged waitress in his bedroom. With the wanton violence and sadism in addition, we notice a disturbing trend of Darker And Edgier sequels trying to emulate realism by pushing in all the worst aspects of humanity they can think of - and failing to see why their own pessimistic view of humanity is highly unrealistic as well (see also, why A Song Of Ice And Fire series has steadily declined in quality).
Because, in the end, why are we so attracted to Bond movies? The simple answer is, they’re not movies, they’re events. Yes, they’re testosterone-fuelled escapist fantasies, but that’s not a bad thing, is it? We get movies full of assured coolness, cool action stunts, and most importantly, fun. Even The Living Daylights had exploding milk bottles and a jeep escaping a crashing plane. Even Casino Royale had parkour and jokes about little fingers. Needless to say, the filmmakers get it too, which is why Licence To Kill and Quantum Of Solace were followed up by GoldenEye, a movie with murderous thighs and satellite weapons, and Skyfall, which has bisexual superhackers and cars with machine guns.
(Spectre please don’t suck)