007 Ingredients to Making a Perfect James Bond Movie | Fanboys Anonymous

007 Ingredients to Making a Perfect James Bond Movie

Posted by Anthony Mango Thursday, April 30, 2020
I've been a fan of the James Bond film franchise since I was around 10 years old. I got into it the way many people did from that age bracket—through GoldenEye—which was exposed to me by friends of mine who had played GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64 and wanted to know what that game was all about.

In fact, I distinctly remember a friend of mine talking in class one day about how he had seen Tomorrow Never Dies and that it was the coolest thing ever, and I had no idea what he was talking about, at first. Fast-forward a few months later, I'm in a group of friends (coincidentally, not including that one) who are so Bond-obsessed that we're trying to find the Parker Jotter pens and assigning ourselves 00 numbers as if we're some secret club.

I've had over 20 years to think about the franchise, grow up in the Pierce Brosnan era, remember what it was like to find out that Daniel Craig was cast and absolutely hate that he was blonde (so much so that I sent an email saying I'd spend the $10 on a bottle of hair dye if they were that cheap) and so on. I was excited for Marc Forster to direct Quantum of Solace, which was a title I wanted them to use forever, and I was so bummed when that became one of my least favorite films. So on and so forth.

With all this in mind, I've always wondered what would be my "perfect" James Bond film. If I could take elements from each movie and mix and match, what would I end up with? Would I take George Lazenby and put him against Gustav Graves with Stacy Sutton as the main Bond girl? You'd bet your ass I wouldn't!

In order to get to this endgame, we need the 7 essential parts of what makes up a 007 film: the Bond, the Tone, the Villains, the Allies, the Gadgets, the Action and the Title.


001. The Bond


Everyone has their favorite Bond, for whatever reason. Most tend to go with Sean Connery as the standard-bearer or Daniel Craig because he's the new guy and that's what they're most familiar with. A lot of it depends on your age, as I know people in their 50s who swear Roger Moore was the best.

I think they all bring something to the table, for the most part, and if we're merging things, we need to pick and choose certain traits from each one.

When it comes to physique, it's clearly Craig. He's the most muscular of the bunch and that makes him more believable to endure so much punishment and pull off as many stunts.

I enjoy his brutality, in a lot of ways, but I think that should be mixed a bit with Connery and Timothy Dalton—easily the most underrated Bond of all time, if not my overall favorite.

My perfect James Bond is a killer, for sure, but he's not crashing into walls like a "blunt instrument" like Craig. He can scrap with someone like Red Grant and has no issue doing something like lighting Franz Sanchez on fire, but he's not doing parkour. Maybe mix in a little Brosnan strictly from GoldenEye.

As far as the face goes, you have to go with Brosnan. For that matter, he's got the charm, too. I know some people think Brosnan is "too pretty" for the role, but I think that actually helps, in a way. Bond should be attractive enough that you can understand at a moment's notice why every woman falls for him and why he's so damn cocky. I don't get that impression with Moore, for instance.

My perfect Bond is suave, smooth, and can charm the pants off anyone without being creepy about it or too misogynistic. Yes, that used to be the way to go, but it doesn't age well, and toning it down a bit is better. I don't at all want my Bond to smack a woman around and forcefully kiss her like Connery used to do. I want a Bond who can get Dr. Molly Warmflash to medically clear him for field action through sex. I bet you didn't expect a Warmflash reference to be pulled out here, eh?

Still, Bond should be a dick. He's an asshole. He's a jerk. He says some things that are just rude, he's stubborn and his ego is a big part of his flaws. I like my Bond to take someone's car keys and mess it up like Craig does in Casino Royale, or for him to yell "Switch the bloody machine off!!" like Dalton in License to Kill.

All of them have had those moments. Moore knocks the guy off the roof and tells Andrea Anders that if Francisco Scaramanga used one of his bullets on her, it would be a shame, because the bullets are expensive! Goddamn! Elektra tells Bond that he wouldn't kill her because he'd miss her, he shoots her and Brosnan says "I never miss."

But he should still care. He's still a good person. Connery mostly seems to just shrug things off too much for my liking to be a perfect Bond amalgam. I do love Moore snapping back "That's enough" when Anya Amasova brings up Tracy, or when Dalton is heartbroken at catching Della's garter.

Last, but not least, is the humor. Bond shouldn't be goofy, but he should be witty. The best at this was probably Moore, although he did go too far into the extreme at times. Think more puns and clver wordplay than acting silly.

For example, Connery saying "positively shocking" after electrocuting guy is great, or handing Fiona Volpe just her slippers to wear is brilliant. Brosnan telling Xenia he "shoots in and out" is good. Craig didn't have enough of these, but he had a great moment in Casino Royale when he tried to pass off Vesper's cover identity as "Miss Stephanie Broadchest" for instance.

It's all about balance. Give me an action star who is tall dark and handsome, charming, a jerk with a heart of gold and can quip when he kills someone.

002. The Tone


All Bond films are similar to each other, yet each one of them is different. In some ways, if you showed someone a Roger Moore film and a Daniel Craig film, without context, they'd think it was a different series altogether.

A lot of that has to do with the Bond himself, but even within each actor's run, there are deviations. GoldenEye is gritty, while Die Another Day has Bond fighting people named Mr. Kill and bad CGI surfing on icebergs. From Russia with Love is a rather serious spy film, while Diamonds are Forever is goofy as hell and damn near a parody of the franchise.

The movie has to be funny at points, but not at all campy. I don't want Bond doing things that are too fantastical, yet I don't want it to be nothing but dry and dour for the entire time without a hint of levity.

GoldenEye is my favorite of the films in part because of its balance, so you're going to see a lot of references to that here and elsewhere. I think it's got enough grit and seriousness, but with enough things to smile about and not feel too tense and depressing like Skyfall, even though I love how earnest that one is, in some ways.

Some of the Connery films are boring. I can't sit through Dr. No, for instance. Yet, somehow, that's also laughable. Why does it start with the Three Blind Mice shtick? It's all over the place and not all that interesting to watch.

Die Another Day was too over the top, even though it was off to a great start. Once Bond shaves, it goes wacky.

The Man with the Golden Gun is a film that I think could have been infinitely better if it had a different tone. The plot itself of a top-notch assassin wanting to kill Bond is great. When you throw in Nick Nack, as much as I love the guy, it's too silly, especially when paired with J.W. Pepper and the slide whistle for the car sequence.

Likewise, one of my other absolute favorites, License to Kill, is great for a deviation, but I don't think that hyper-revenge story is the way to go for a "perfect" Bond film blueprint.

The movie should take itself seriously. There should be humor, but never laughing at the movie, just with the movie. It's not supposed to be a Fast and Furious action flick, nor should it be Schindler's List.

003. The Villains and Plot


There are a couple tropes for Bond villains, to varying extremes. Sometimes, they want to destroy the planet. Sometimes, they just want to steal a device.

Like with any balance, I want a mixture of villains and for none of it to be boring, nor silly. Don't give me the Blofeld clones in Diamonds are Forever, which is wacky. Don't try to tie the villain into a figure skater subplot like For Your Eyes Only, which is one of my least favorites. For that matter, I love The Living Daylights (one of my favorites) but I still don't know what the hell Koskov's plan is. Diamonds, drugs, weapons, defections, pigs, borscht, cake...there must be another way!

Here's another great example: the beginning of Die Another Day with the hovercrafts floating over the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea is AMAZING and could have been the big plot of the film. However, having Colonel Moon do gene therapy to become Gustav Graves, create an Iron Man suit, smuggle diamonds and create a laser satellite weapon...stop throwing out tons of ideas that don't work together!

GoldenEye (surprise surprise) has perhaps my favorite balance of everything. It doesn't have everything I'm looking for in a villain plot, but it does check off a lot of the boxes by having Trevelyan, Xenia, Ourumov and Boris.

So here's my proposal of a breakdown of villains for a perfect Bond film:

Villain 1 = The Puppetmaster
- This person is manipulating people behind the scenes and acts as an evil M.
- You know who this is. It's Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. are working with a #2 because they want something in return for offering their brilliance and resources.
- Blofeld needs to survive the film.

Villain 2 = The Warmonger / Warlord
- Ideally, this is a military general who is seeking power. They stand to gain something out of the evil plot, like becoming the ruler of their nation through a coupe or they're already in charge and want to invade another country. This person has his separatist brigade of followers who are goons that Bond can shoot at throughout the film. Ourumov is a great representation of this.
- If not that, they're a businessman like Hai Fat or Elliot Carver. The whole idea of this character is that they're the ones driving the plot forward from a face value level and they can be the "big bad" who dies.
- This is the bankroller in some situations if you don't have a Puppetmaster.

Villain 3 = The Evil Parallel
- A reflection of Bond. They know what he knows, so they can outsmart him or outmatch him in skills.
- This can be a former 00 agent like Silva or Trevelyan, an assassin like Scaramanga, a spy from another organization like Red Grant or some other variant like that.
- You may be able to merge this with the Warlord if you're trying to trim characters. The way to tweak that is that instead of a legit military guy, you make him a separatist random lunatic who has amassed a personal army by overthrowing someone or usurping some crappy little nation or whatever.

Villain 4 = The Femme Fatale
- The seductress who can get to Bond through one of his main weaknesses—the bedroom.
- Fiona Volpe and Xenia are great examples. Elektra King is another great one, but I think she's also a bit of the Warlord (Side note: I actually love her character and the Stockholm Syndrome angle of TWINE so much).
- Bond absolutely must have sex with her, and when she dies, he absolutely must say some kind of pun.

Villain 5 = The Heavy Henchman
- The physical threat. He is big, ideally has some kind of distinguishing feature (deformity, disfigurement or gimmick) and can nearly kill Bond with his fists.
- Jaws and Oddjob are templates for this.

Villain 6 = The Weasel / Tech Guy
- Someone who can be a pushover, but represents an intelligent side of the plan.
- Boris. Henry Gupta.

What is the overall goal and plot of the film, given these characters?

A very baseline idea would be that they've stolen some kind of weaponry and plan on using that to instigate a war they can profit from. In fact, keeping in mind that I'm repeating plot elements from movies we've seen already, I'll go full ham on this and toss this idea out there:

A rogue state that has seen a steady rise in power has stolen nuclear weaponry and assassinated several key figures of various nations. It's unknown what their connection is or what the plan is. Bond is sent to investigate based on the only evidence they have, which is some kind of diamonds smuggling operation used to fund these transactions, maybe. Diamonds are important to Bond films.

The terrorist leader of this separatist group is known by the codename Risico, who is the primary antagonist. He is a former 00 agent who was tasked to overthrow a dictator and create a military uprising in another country on behalf of MI6. However, he did his job too well. Over the years, the job turned him evil. The more death and destruction he saw and was directly responsible for, the more he became addicted to that thrill and became disgusted in bureaucracy and humans in general. He believes he's been righting the wrongs and he should be in control.

Risico started double-dipping, doing jobs for MI6 while also doing side gigs for S.P.E.C.T.R.E., who let him run around like a kid with a molotov cocktail. He does contract kills for them in exchange for amassing more power in this rogue nation that he's secretly been trying to build from the ground up like a slash and burn crop, while S.P.E.C.T.R.E. feels like they can kill him at any moment if he gets out of hand, but he's a great tool, for now.

Under Risico's command is a military general who is a pig of a human. Think General Medrano. He's clearly someone who provides the goons and is there to be the underling who thinks he's the right-hand man, but Risico just needs someone to boss around the mooks and do the dirty work.

Risico's trusty #2 for real is his femme fatale. She's the one he'll talk plans over with. Give her some sort of sexy name, but don't make it some obvious innuendo.

Risico's bodyguard is the heavy, and there's also his tech guy who can explain to him the bombs and such.


In the end, Blofeld is backing Risico because S.P.E.C.T.R.E. wants control over the land of this rogue nation (maybe the water/oil plot from Quantum of Solace) while the military general just wants a pure ego trip of power, Risico wants to watch the world burn, the bodyguard is just there for the hits and the femme fatale's motivations I'm not sure of. Tech guy is just thereto make money and push buttons and get killed in a humiliating fashion.

None of this factors in other elements of the plot, Bond's journey through the film and so on, of course, but that's your driving force as far as the villains go,

004. The Allies


So we've talked about the villains at length. Let's talk about the allies who will accompany Bond throughout this mission. These are actually a bit easier to decipher, as I'm just copying and pasting a lot of already great characters.

Ally 1 = M
- Judi Dench.
- She represents the motherly role in the film and is his stern boss who ultimately trusts him, even if she has to deride his decisions and chew him out here and there. They respect each other.
- Perhaps you even include the Defense Minister or someone breathing down M's back to explain why she's so harsh on Bond.

Ally 2 = Q
- Desmond Llewelyn mixed with Ben Whishaw
- The quartermaster who provides Bond with all his gadgets. He's on the meek side, will not be expected to do any action. He can literally just pop up in one scene to explain the gadgets and be there for levity.
- Bond respects him, but goofs off with him. Q finds 007 infuriating, but he likes him.

Ally 3 = Moneypenny
- I prefer Samantha Bond mixed with Lois Maxwell more so than Eve Moneypenny being some former field agent.
- I honestly don't think it's demeaning for there to be a female character who is a secretary of sorts. M could use a subordinate administrative assistant who has a flirtatious relationship with Bond to offset the motherly and stern woman in charge. They are in direct opposition of each other, which makes it fun.
- She doesn't go on the mission, just like Q doesn't. She helps with exposition and relaying information to Bond while flirting.

Ally 4 = Bill Tanner
- Someone for M to interact with and talk down to.
- Charles Robinson was awesome, but too cool for that spot. For that matter, I think Colin Salmon could've been a great 008. He was just too handsome and seemingly capable in his own right to be a Tanner.

Ally 5 = Felix Leiter
- Bond's buddy from the CIA.
- Merge David Hedison with Jeffrey Wright to give me the best Felix, but maybe throw in a little Jack Lord and Rik Van Nutter for flair.
- No J.W. Pepper, which was just too silly.
- No Jack Wade. I enjoyed him, but he should have been Felix (outside of the whole LTK injuries).

Ally 6 = Sacrificial 00 Agent
- Another 00 who can die at the beginning of the film.
- Cannot be 008. You need to keep that mystery that 008 is the other "good" one along with 007.
- We haven't seen 001 in a movie yet, right? Let's kill him/her off.

Ally 7 = Sacrificial Helper Buddy Ol' Pal
- Someone who can help Bond and then die.
- Think Quarrel or Sharkey.

Ally 8 = Sacrificial Bond Girl
- A tragic loss of a beautiful woman.
- Maybe she's dating the main villain and gets offed by him to show how evil he is, like Paris Carver or Solange.

Ally 9 = The Main Bond Girl
- This is the one Bond ends up with in the end.
- She should have some sort of skills, training or specialties that are valuable for the plot and allow her to serve a purpose other than being eye candy.
- Absolutely not just a damsel in distress like Stacy Sutton!
- Think Dr. Holly Goodhead, Natalya Simonova, or Dr. Christmas Jones but without the bad writing/acting.

005. The Gadgets and Cars


The Daniel Craig Era is frustratingly against this aspect of the franchise, and I don't know why. While I fully understand the idea of making things a bit grittier and realistic than an invisible car and whatnot, I feel they went too far in the opposite direction by just eradicating them entirely. It's as if they decide it's all or nothing—fantastical, or no gadgets at all.

In fact, there's that scene in Skyfall where Q specifically turns its nose up at the exploding pen in GoldenEye, as if that's one of the more laughable ones. In fact, it's one of the more serious and iconic ones! If you're going to poke fun at something, poke fun at the stupid alligator submarine!

My philosophy on the car and the gadgets is that it should be something that looks normal, but has a different function to it. For example, I like how the cell phone in Tomorrow Never Dies has the taser and the lock pick. I dig the Dentonite toothpaste in License to Kill and the grapple belt in GoldenEye.

It should also be something that helps Bond, but doesn't immediately solve all the problems in a contrived way. He shouldn't be given a catch-all plot device that would only be useful in one random situation and he just so happens to have the perfect thing to save the day. I think it's better when Bond uses it for an advantage, but still has to get out of the situation by being innovative.

As time has gone on, the gadgets are harder to do. No longer is a homing beacon anything special, for instance. It used to be impressive if he had a camera that he could carry around. Now, phones do that and more.

So on the pure gadget side of things, I think he needs four that should go with every movie: a phone, a watch, a tracking beacon of sorts and "something extra".

The phone should have some bonus stuff to it other than just a modern phone. Maybe the fingerprint scanner from TND? That or the watch should be a bomb. I like the watch laser, too. The tracking signal is just smart for MI6 to be able to know where he is.

"Something extra", aka the fourth gadget, is the highlight thing of the film. It's the one that's featured similar to the attache case in From Russia with Love or the wrist dart gun in Moonraker.

When it comes to the car, we all know it should be a silver/gray Aston Martin.

Equip it with machine guns, missiles, a license plate that can be changed (LED screen instead of a revolving one to modernize it?), an ejector seat, bulletproof glass, and so on.

006. The Set Pieces


There are three things to break down here: action sequences, random things that need to happen throughout the film and locations to visit.

Action Sequences

  1. Car chase.
  2. Brawl in a tight space. = the train fight in From Russia With Love, for instance. Bonus points if you have Bond do that thing where he slams someone to the left and right side of an elevator at some point in the movie, too.)
  3. Compound shooting spree = Bond is either breaking out after having been captured or he's attacking the villain's lair with the intent of blowing it up after extracting someone.
  4. A ticking clock scene = Bond is defusing a bomb, stopping a missile launch, etc.
  5. Bond has to sneak into somewhere. Stealth portion of the movie. Ideally at the halfway mark or so while Bond is still gathering information about the villain's plot so as to not halt the pace.
  6. Ski chase.
  7. Water = a boat, submarine or underwater scuffle, if you have the time. 
Absolutely no Quantum of Solace editing with all the jump cuts and frenetic pacing.

Random Other Sequences

  1. A casino scene where Bond converses with a villain (femme fatale, ideally) and wins the card game.
  2. The movie starts with the gun barrel, leads into an opening action set piece, goes to the film's title sequence, then moves on to set up the villain's goals. Tomorrow Never Dies is a great example. 
  3. Bond pretends to be someone else and uses an alias.
  4. Bond sleeps with the femme fatale, seduces at least one other woman and also sleeps with the main love interest. In one of these scenes, Bond should show a preference for a certain year of Bollinger champagne.
  5. Obviously, Bond has to order a martini that's shaken, not stirred.
  6. Again, obviously, Bond has to introduce himself at some point in the movie as "Bond...James Bond."
  7. Bond checks his hotel room for bugs, webcams and such.
Locations

  1. MI6 Headquarters = This includes either M's office that Judi Dench used, or the one with the red door from the classic films, Skyfall and Spectre.
  2. Casino
  3. Villain lair compound (high tech, secluded)
  4. Some beach location (sexy, bright, colorful)
  5. Some Middle Eastern location (oppressively hot and dry)
  6. Snow.
  7. European nation (France? Italy? etc)
  8. Russia, China, North Korea or somewhere that plays like a stereotypical bad place you wouldn't want to be. Don't want to go to Siberia and risk not coming out, for instance!
That probably covers the blueprint ideas, but something else that needs to be mentioned is that all of this stuff should try to be original from one to the next, while still hitting the tropes.

For instance, both Goldfinger and The Living Daylights have car chases, but are very different from each other. The skiing sequence from A View to a Kill is very different from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

007. The Title and Theme Song


The Title

I've tied these together because I think they counterbalance each other. It's hard to write a main theme for a film like Thunderball, because what the hell does that mean? But I think people approach the music in a film the same way they approach the title in that they can be memorable in their own right.

There are pretty much 2 ways to title a Bond film. Option A is something flowery and poetic (The World is Not Enough, From Russia with Love, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Quantum of Solace). Option B is to go with a single word that reflects the villain or something directly referenced in the plot (Goldfinger, GoldenEye, Moonraker).

I tend to like the more poetic titles. Diamonds are Forever, A View to a Kill, etc. But it shouldn't just be variations of Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day and No Time to Die. Don't make the blueprint film Death Dies a Kill and think you mean any sense.

I do love Never Send Flowers, For Special Services, High Time to Kill, By Royal Command and so on, admittedly. Zero Minus Ten is cool, too. However, if we're going with Risico as our blueprint villain name, let's go with "risk" somewhere in the title, if possible.

For my money, the way around that isn't to make this movie "Calculated Risk" or "Life and Limb" or "Risky Business". Instead, I think an ideal title they're sleeping on using is Devil May Care.

The Music

David Arnold does the score. He has a better track record than anyone and I absolutely love his recurring love theme. Massive credit to John Barry for setting the tone and for having some great things that go under the radar, like A View to a Kill, The Man with the Golden Gun and more. However, I'll pick David Arnold.

There should be a main theme, but also a secondary theme for the end credits. I love how The Living Daylights, License to Kill, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough all have two themes. For instance, "If There Was a Man" to parallel "The Living Daylights" and "The Experience of Love" for Tina Turner's "GoldenEye".

Ideally, one of them is a love song like Nobody Does it Better or All Time High and the other is more of a Goldfinger-esque theme.

I don't dig the rock stuff like You Know My Name and Another Way to Die. Granted, I do like those songs outside of the series, but I think Skyfall is infinitely better for a Bond film.

As far as who should sing the songs? One for a man, one for a woman. If I were to go with someone brand new, as opposed to bringing back Shirley Bassey or Adele, for instance, I think Sting would be a great choice for the male, with Lana Del Ray for the female.

Conclusion


There you go! That's how I think you should take all the staple ingredients of the Bond franchise, mix them all together, sift out the bad stuff, merge some concepts and come out with the best recipe for a perfect 007 movie.

How would you make this type of film, if given a chance? What aspects would you change from my blueprint? Keep the discussion going in the comments below!
THIS POST WRITTEN BY: ANTHONY MANGO

Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and show host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, media manager and more. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Extended profile here.

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