Women want him and men want to be him. Ian Fleming’s superspy is the epitome of cool: a suave, sophisticated icon of machismo whose exploits in international espionage continue to excite the popular imagination. Yet despite the continuing success of the James Bond film franchise and the idealisation of vodka martinis (shaken not stirred), tuxedos, exotic females and exotic locations in the eyes of the masses there are undoubtedly some moments in the movie series that stand out as naff.
As Quantum of Solace grits it up on cinema screens, here’s a rundown of Mr Bond’s ten ropiest moments of cringeworthy uncoolness…
Dr. No – “Fetch my shoes”
The movie was released just as Jamaica was emerging as a nation independent from the British Empire, but there’s still an underlying “master and servant” edge. The moment where Bond instructs Quarrel to fetch his shoes smacks of subtle racism and sits oddly with the post-colonial spectator. At least 007 didn’t ask him to shine them up and hand him his pipe while he was at it…
Goldfinger – “It’s like listening to The Beatles without earmuffs”
For a brief moment in a Miami hotel, Bond becomes a culturally out-of-date snob as he takes a swipe at another booming swinging sixties Brit phenomenon. Remarking that room-temperature champagne is just as bad as listening to the Fab Four without ear protection suddenly ranks our supercool spy as either a spiteful elitist, or a covert Elvis fan.
The Man with the Golden Gun – Bond’s bad form at the dojo
Held captive by Thai entrepreneur Hai Fat after falling foul of Nick Nack and a sumo wrestler, Bond shows himself to be arrogant and disrespectful in a dojo karate clash. Kicking your opponent in the face before you’ve even finished performing the reverential bow is unsporting and distinctly not cool. That 007 only gets away thanks to the help of a pair of schoolgirls who beat up the attacking army says it all.
The Spy who Loved Me – “Nobody Does it Better” sea shanty
After assuring M that he’s keeping the British end up, 007 submerges into and returns to his seduction of Agent Anya Amasova in an escape pod to satisfactorily finish the film. Cue Carly Simon’s title song, bizarrely belted out by a bunch of blokey sailors. The naval final-note comes out of nowhere and is bafflingly surreal as Cold War potboiler lurches into Popeye at the climax.
Moonraker – Sub-par Star Wars space fight
Shamelessly attempting to surf the zeitgeist, the Bond franchise jumped the shark so much it ended up beyond the stratosphere. The laser battle between US space marines and Hugo Drax’s henchman eclipses even the humanisation of Jaws as a heartfelt lover as an eye-watering embarrassment in 007 lore. Did no one behind-the-scenes at any point think “I have a bad feeling about this”?
Octopussy – Clowning around on the circus train
The sight of Roger Moore’s 007 desperately dancing about in big-top get-up to play a frenetic game of pass the bomb is a particularly daft moment in the most crudely-named flick in the canon. The sight of an overwrought Bond in full clown costume and make-up is undeniably unnerving; clowns are scary and surely the world’s number one secret agent shouldn’t be camping it up as Coco, even if he is trying to avert a nuclear explosion.
A View to a Kill – California Girls snowboard sequence
At the film’s start Bond sets out to Siberia to recover a microchip from 003’s frozen corpse. Serious, but it all melts into mind-numbing uncoolness as The Beach Boys back Bond’s getaway from Soviet soldiers. Before the credit sequence, it’s now clear that Roger Moore is too old as he gingerly and geriatrically wobbles away on a snowboard. A nonsensical choice of music (California Girls and the Russian wilderness: where’s the link?) and a sad nudge towards retirement for Mr. Moore…
The World Is Not Enough – “I’ve always wanted to have Christmas in Turkey”
We expect puns but the moment Denise Richard’s unlikely nuclear physicist is seduced by the single-most stonkingly awful innuendo in the series’ history on a balcony in Istanbul crosses the threshold. You just know that the writers came up with the Christmas Jones character name just to drop that zinger at the film’s climax. Crass and corny: yuck…
Die Another Day – Madonna’s fencing club cameo
It was bad enough that the ubiquitous, indestructible “Queen of Pop” had to breathe out the bland, over-produced theme tune, but to have her make an all-too-obvious cameo added insult to injury. Going further than Sheena Easton’s unwarranted appearance in the title sequence of For Your Eyes Only, Madge’s minor role as fencing mentor/innuendo dispenser, Verity, should have been slashed in the editing room, if only to avoid hearing her comment of Bond’s blade prowess: “I see you handle your weapon well.”
Die Another Day – Moneypenny seduced by virtual reality
Having remained aloof and untouchable throughout Bond history, the MI6 secretary finally succumbs to the charms of 007 at the tail-end of Die Another Day in a tragic style. Since Daniel Craig’s arrival it seems that Moneypenny has been expunged from the series and it stands a tremendous shame that her final sequence sees our heroine humiliatingly seduced by a virtual reality 007. As a franchise institution, Moneypenny deserved better than a simulated lip-locking for her grand finale.