December 9, 2012

You Can't Do That in Bondsville

I've been going through and rewatching my DVDs, in anticipation of upgrading (if possible) to Blu-ray next year. Right now I have three categories: definitely keep (Terminator 2: Judgment Day falls in that category); definitely get rid of (see previous post); and On the Fence: re-watch (or watch, in the case of a DVD I bought some time ago and simply haven't gotten around to yet) to see whether I want to keep or not.

The latest On the Fence offering is the Daniel Craig James Bond re-boot, Casino Royale.

To be clear: I'm not a Bond fanatic. I haven't watched all the movies--far from it--and don't intend to argue about the pros and cons of any Bond. I will say that Daniel Craig seems a natural fit for the role: he can project an absolute killer ruthlessness and turn to a slick oily charm at the drop of a hat. He's also not pretty-boy handsome like, say, Pierce Brosnan; he has a craggy and frankly more interesting-looking face.

But this movie drove me absolutely nuts in the final act.

I write science fiction and fantasy. In that genre--hey, in any genre, but especially in speculative fiction--the "suspension of disbelief" is vital. Especially if you're trying to write something that doesn't square with reality as we know it, you have to set up internal rules that make sense. Now, I don't know how the British M16 really operates, but I would bet the 007s as depicted in Bond films are stretching things a bit, to say the least.  That's why I was pleasantly surprised to see the fantastical gadgetry at a minimum: even the handy-dandy do-it-yourself defibrillator is based on a real thing. The ubiquitous gun silencers are back, but that's a staple of the spy genre, even if they don't work nearly as well as depicted.

I'm not quibbling with any of that. What threw me completely out of my suspension of disbelief, and out of the movie as well, is the ridiculous sinking warehouse.

I've never been to Venice. However, one sentence typed into Google brought up the fact that the water in Venice is only six feet deep, and the buildings there are placed on wood foundations driven into the marshy island mud. They do not "float." And yet we have Mr. Bond pursuing the bad guys into an empty six-story warehouse, with huge inflatable rubber floaties on the bottom floor. I mean really big, as in thirty or forty feet long and ten feet wide. And our resourceful spy proceeds to shoot out the floaties, and the water explodes through the floor, and the whole damn building starts to sink. ALL SIX STORIES OF IT.

This brings everything to a climax: i.e., Bond's love interest, who he has actually declared his love for and resigned from M16 to be with, and who has just been revealed to be a double-crossing beeyotch (although she does have a good reason, it turns out--the baddies kidnapped her boyfriend and are holding his life over her head), gets trapped in the warehouse elevator--while Bond is fighting and finally killing the baddies--and drowns. Although the drowning looks suspiciously like suicide: Bond is trying to open the doors, and she looks at him and says, "James, I'm sorry," and turns some sort of key on the door which releases the elevator and plunges her into six stories of water.

Which leads me to the second ridiculous disbelief-breaking: Bond's apparent Superman lungs. He dives after the elevator and follows it down, and is still trying to pry open the door. Meanwhile Vesper Lynd is drowning before his eyes, and he's oh-dear-God bellowing at her, spewing out great bubbles of precious air. You can hear his voice on the soundtrack. I mean, really. Does he have a second set of lungs or something that allows him to do this? How, pray tell, does he not start swallowing water and drowning himself? Yet he somehow gets the doors open, brings her to the surface (i.e., the roof--the entire building is nearly underwater by this time), and she's dead and he's still alive.

I realize in these movies 007s have more than one life, like a cat, but this is stupid.

(Yahoo answers also addressed the warehouse here.)

Needless to say, this ruined the entire movie for me, and it went to the top of the To Be Gotten Rid Of pile. I can take a lot of implausible stuff--I don't blink an eye at the Millennium Falcon's hyperspace jump, for example, or Star Trek's warp drive and transporter, even though current physics says that's patently impossible. Of course there's also the argument that "you shouldn't expect reality from a James Bond movie." Also true.

But this series isn't set A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away, and thus it should have at least a passing resemblance to this world.

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