How do you build a perfect Bond movie?
More than five decades, six actors, and 23 films later, Agent 007, Bond, James Bond, remains one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. But despite the 23 tries, there still is no perfect Bond film — some may stand out, but no one movie has hit all the beats that make a Bond film tick. That’s where this list comes in. There are seven elements that truly “make” a Bond film:
– The Title Track
– The Bond Girl
– The Villain
– The Car
– The Gadgets
– The Exotic Location
– James Bond himself
Cherry-picking from the entire series, this list assembles the Perfect Bond Film: a movie with premium ingredients that would be sure to please even the most discerning of Agent 007’s fans.
1. Who sings the title track?
It’s not just the martini and the tux that matter when it comes to a Bond film. The title track has always been an intrinsic part of the series, and choosing the right act to record the theme is a way to get the film off on the right foot. A bevy of the world’s most talented musical artists have lent their vocal talents to the Bond series, from Tina Turner to Nancy Sinatra, Madonna to Paul McCartney, Carly Simon to Duran Duran. But if you’re looking for an artist to single the title track for the perfect Bond film, two names stand out: Dame Shirley Bassey and Adele. Bassey has sung three title tracks, for Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker. Her work for the first set the standard for all Bond themes to come. Then there is Adele, who is the first artist to win an Oscar for a Bond theme for her work on Skyfall. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
The Verdict: Dame Shirley Bassey, because she did it first — and then again, and again.
2. Who is the Bond Girl?
This might be the hardest choice in assembling the Perfect James Bond Film. A long list of incredibly talented women have tackled the tall task of playing a Bond Girl onscreen — some to more success than others — and there are no hard-and-fast rules as to what makes an awesome Bond Girl. Having said that, the better Bond Girls — from the iconic Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder to Eva Green as Vesper Lynd — have always been a blend of beautiful and badass. A Bond Girl shouldn’t be a damsel in distress to be saved by James Bond, but his equal.
The Verdict: Barbara Bach as Anya Amasova (aka Agent XXX) is in many ways Bond’s superior in The Spy Who Loved Me — heck, she even promised to kill 007 after their mission was finished — and thus edges out many other deserving women for the role of Bond Girl in the Perfect Bond Film.
The Backup: Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore from Goldfinger would be an inspired backup choice — she’s an accomplished pilot and Bond’s foil for much of the film.
3. Who plays the Bond Villain?
A Bond villain can transcend their film and become iconic. Who can forget Oddjob and his steel-rimmed hat, Jaws and his deadly grin, Scaramanga and his golden gun, or more recently, Raoul Silva and his awful haircut? Played correctly, and an actor can redefine a legendary role — but if you overdo it, you run the risk of camp. You want a larger-than-life villain, not one that inspires laughs.
The Verdict: Donald Pleasance as Ernst Stavro Blofeld is an iconic Bond megalomaniac, from the scarred eye and the white cat, to the plans for world domination and the volcanic lair. His understated menace is perfection, and is more than up to the task of taking on Agent 007 in his toughest mission yet.
The Backup: Why not go for an outside-the-box choice and choose Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp from Goldeneye? She’s sexy, psychotic, and electrifies the screen in every scene she is in.
4. What car does Agent 007 drive?
Let’s get one thing straight: Bond will be driving an Aston Martin. Yes, the Lotus Esprit that turned into a submarine was pretty badass in The Spy Who Loves Me, but Bond and Aston Martin are tied at the hip. A better question might be which Aston Martin does he drive?
The Verdict: An Aston Martin DB5 for style, and the latest model for chase scenes.
Backup: He’s driving the Aston Martin — no ifs, ands, or buts.
5. How about Bond’s gear?
What is Q Branch going to provide for Agent 007’s most challenging mission yet? Duh, he’s going to have a gun, but what about the extra special goodies? Q is the original Steve Jobs, dreaming up high-tech gadgets that are not just cutting edge but the stuff of science fiction fantasies. Bond should never have to rely on his gadgets to complete a mission — it should be his steely nerves that get the job done — but his high-tech toys should give him an edge when it comes to saving the world.
The Verdict: Hands down, the jetpack from Thunderball. It was downright badass when the movie was released and still holds up as one of Bond’s coolest gadgets nearly five decades later.
Backup: It would hardly be called settling, but Little Nellie — the helicopter that fits in a suitcase from You Only Live Twice — is a solid second choice.
6. Where does Agent 007’s mission take him?
Bond’s missions have brought him to nearly every exotic locale imaginable — including Outer Space. Part of the magic of the Bond series is the element of escapism. For two hours, you’ll be transported across the world to some location you could previously only dream of. It’s not that the location can make or break the film (i.e., exhilarating Skyfall takes place mostly in the United Kingdom), but the crazy destinations have always been a hallmark of the series.
The Verdict: Bond can book a flight to Switzerland and Piz Gloria, the mountaintop complex (and now a real-life restaurant) featured in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Backup: Venice has both been featured multiple times in the Bond series, and a return trip shouldn’t be considered out of the question.
7. Finally, who plays Bond?
Connery. Lazenby. Moore. Dalton. Brosnan. Craig. Names who have all grabbed an iconic role and made it into something their own. There is no perfect Bond, per se, but you need a Bond. Do you go for the suave Connery, who defined the role? Maybe the charm of Moore, or the sophistication of Brosnan? Or maybe Daniel Craig, who in his three turns as Agent 007 has redefined and revitalized the role. Only one thing is certain — George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton are off the table.
The Verdict: Daniel Craig, and by a whisker. Bond purists will cry blasphemy, but Craig adds an incredible level of physicality to the role while also maintaining the level of sophistication necessary to portray Agent 007. He’s dashing, debonair, and he can kick your ass.
Backup: Sean Connery, duh.