SPECTRE is all the more irritating because of the good things it had that it completely squandered. Willingness to retcon away the crap bits — nope, let’s retcon them to be even worse. Dave Bautista as a Proper Henchman — disposed of barely past the half-way mark. Crater Base as a final boss location — blown up after five minutes of screen time and it wasn’t even the finale. It was all me, James! (Smart blood.)
(Transcript is included in the blog post.)
Sean Connery 1: CLOSHE, BUT NO BISHCUIT
Sean Connery 2: but no bishcuit, closhe but no bishcuit.
Sean Connery 1: Yesh.
A Priest?: And lo! It was close, but there was no biscuit.
Yoda: Mmmm, biscuits there were, but close they were not.
Sean Connery 2: The besht. Loshers always whine about the besht, winnersh go home and fuck the prom queen.
Sean Connery 1: Yesh.
Sean Connery 2: Junior!
Sean Connery 1: Shorry darling, shomething’sh come up.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah, as I read on the internet somewhere, it’s “James Bond versus the Illuminati” and they still fucked it up.
Chris: You somehow found a way to make “James Bond versus the Illuminati” boring.
Rao Dao Zao: And shit.
Chris: Basically, SPECTRE is the Illuminati.
Rao Dao Zao: As I’ve said before, I love a good conspiracy theory. The idea of the Illuminati I find incredibly, narratively compelling. I think it’s too hilarious to actually exist, but–
Chris: In Bond you can make it work. It lends itself!
Rao Dao Zao: It is exactly that. My favourite game’s Deus Ex, the Illuminati are a core component of the narrative, and it’s like “oh yes, this is amazing, I want more conspiracies, I want all the conspiracies in the world melded together into one super-conspiracy”– and they fucking ruined it.
Addendum: Ouch, this came out a bit wrong. Deus Ex got it so fucking right — it was SPECTRE did not. But you knew that, right? You can make sense of my booze-addled ramblings, right?
Chris: There is a bit in SPECTRE where they have the, okay it’s actually a very boring scene, but they have this big table and they’re all gathered round — and you suddenly get an idea of the scope of what this thing is. And you’re like, “holy shit, goldmine!” If I had retconned it fully, fuck it, we’ve brought back Blofeld — have Goldfinger at that fucking table, have Scaramanga fucking sat there. Like, let’s not do them in this movie, but if you’re going to go that big with it — fucking go big!
Rao Dao Zao: It’s a non-film with a non-narrative and non-characters.
Chris: I think you might have been forgiving of it until that line of “it was me, James”.
Rao Dao Zao: No, I was ambivalent toward it, and then, yeah, “it was all me, Bond” was… The delivery of that line, and the context it’s said in, it’s just… There is nothing that can– Nobody, no actor, the greatest actor in history of mankind could never deliver that line in that context.
Chris: (whispering) It was all me, Bond.
Rao Dao Zao: “It was me all along,” it is the worst pantomime bullshit. In a pantomime, it’s funny because you know it’s funny, you don’t say that in a serious film. You say that in the pantomime where the Fairy Godmother comes down and is like “It was me all along, Cinderella!” And you’re like, “No! No! No!” This is a film that’s trying to be serious, it’s tonally inconsistent, all over the place, this is not a joke — he is literally saying “it was me all along Bond”. It’s cartoon, it’s like Doctor Robotnik, “it was me all along Sonic!” and you’re like “no, no it wasn’t!” Well, in the case of Sonic, at least it actually was all Robotnik, that’s fine.
Chris: But it wasn’t, in this one–
Rao Dao Zao: In this one it wasn’t. It’s jemmied in, and it’s shit. They’re jemmying shit in, it’s like, you’ve just dropped a really steaming wet turd and you’re trying to jemmy it into a corner, and it’s too steaming and wet so it’s not going into the corner, it’s just squidging around going “I don’t fit here, I don’t fit here, I stink and I still don’t fit here, and I’m wet and sloppy and I still don’t fit here”.
Chris: It’s the writers trying to take credit for something they didn’t do. “We wrote this in from the beginning!”
Rao Dao Zao: Totally.
Chris: But you didn’t, you’ve retconned it–
Rao Dao Zao: You literally did not do any of this.
Chris: Marvel had a plan. Before they made anything, they mapped it out. Whereas, they’re trying to catch up– do not try and tell me in 2006 you fucking knew that was where you were going, because it wasn’t.
Rao Dao Zao: Also, we had Quantum the organisation–
Chris: Oh christ, oh god.
Rao Dao Zao: And then, yeah, “no actually, it was SPECTRE all along, no, no, forget that!”
Chris: “They were a single tentacle!”
Rao Dao Zao: And we can work out the entire shape of the whole organisation by analysing a ring– smart blood.
Chris: Smart blood. (laughter) There’s a bit at the end of Quantum of Solace, when he drops Dominic Greene off in the desert, and his line is “I told you what you wanted to know, I told you about Quantum” — everything about Quantum, he says everything about Quantum.
Rao Dao Zao: Ah, everything.
Chris: But he obviously didn’t, because–
Rao Dao Zao: Actually they were an arm of SPECTRE. But he was pretending!
Chris: Obviously whatever he told them about Quantum clearly wasn’t that important, because in Skyfall it’s completely forgotten about, nobody cares. You’re thinking, the ending of that clearly leads into– therefore, Skyfall is going to be them going to investigate this, which you’d think would be quite important, this sort of globally dominated—
Rao Dao Zao: Illuminati-type–
Chris: In Quantum of Solace , it’s like “Bloody hell, Bond, they’re everywhere, even people in our organisation are working for this Quantum of whatever-it-is organisation”.
Rao Dao Zao: Quantum of shitty-name-for-a-film.
Chris: Yes, and then come Skyfall, it’s like “ah fuck it, doesn’t matter anymore”.
Rao Dao Zao: It’s about Bond again.
Chris: That was important for like a week, but then this guy’s got all these agents on a disc, but we’ll forget about that before the end of this movie, and then that won’t get brought up in SPECTRE and then SPECTRE’s important again and Quantum’s now somehow important again.
Rao Dao Zao: But we’re just pretending Quantum is actually SPECTRE– it was me all along, Bond!
Chris: Come on, stop trying to connect dots where there are no dots to be connected. I mean, the thing is, you’re dropping dots, you’re kicking dots out of the narrative–
Rao Dao Zao: Literally pushing existing dots away to connect dots that don’t exist.
Chris: Yes! You’re telling the audience one minute this dot called Quantum is no longer relevant, because the dot in Skyfall, the list that has all the agent names on it, that’s the important dot. But before we get to the end of this movie, we’re gonna tell you that dot’s no longer important. Start of SPECTRE, now the Quantum dot’s important again — fuck me! I mean, can no-one have stopped and just thought, maybe the audience can’t get their head round this shit?
Rao Dao Zao: Because it’s shit.
Chris: There’s no dots to connect, it’s all shite. You had to either admit that, we’ve Quantum’d this, and therefore, for good or ill we have to see it through to the end. Or, we have to say, “wow, we really fucked up that Quantum storyline, let’s just pretend Quantum of Solace never occurred,” and then go off and never speak of it again. You can’t then go “no no no, it was a tentacle of a giant octopus called SPECTRE” because then you’re taking a bad situation and making it so much worse!
Rao Dao Zao: That means there are seven other not-Quantums all round the world.
Chris: It’s like someone, we’ve discovered this organisation that’s probably responsible for September 11th. They seem quite important in terms of the global geopolitics, they control everything. We’ve found that out from a guy called Dominic Greene in the desert, but a movie later… No, we’re not gonna go there. And then when they re-go back to it again, they don’t even treat the scale of that as being important! Because, again, it goes introspective!
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah, yeah.
Chris: Because, “ah’m yoe brotha James”. Cuckoo! Fly nest, all that shit. For the global importance of the audience watching this, I don’t care about this inter-brother rivalry shit you’ve got going on–
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah, I care about a super-villain tearing shit up.
Chris: The important thing here is the fact that this guy has actually infiltrated every major government on the planet — that’s the issue at hand! The issue at hand is not the fact that you knew each other and he taught you to ski or some shit. That is so fucking irrelevant on the scale of the danger we’re dealing with, and the fact that the Bond character can’t even fucking see that, and go “this is the fucking priority here”. It– it– it’s brain-hurt level bad.
Rao Dao Zao: “It was all me, Bond”, is just the worst line in cinematic history.
Chris: We have to flashback to a time before Skyfall was made, before all the marketing hit, before all that stuff. You would have to concede though, that the expectation, narratively– the consistent theme of the Craig films is that the direction you think they’re going to go in is not the direction they ever go in. Because, at the end of Casino Royale, you have the ♫ ba-na da-daa da-na-naaa, oh, he’s James Bond now.
Rao Dao Zao: Wait, no he’s not. Stop!
Rao Dao Zao: Hammer time!
Chris: Still working up to that. Then, at the end of Quantum of Solace, you have this whole “wow, so they’re doing, effectively, SPECTRE but now it’s called Quantum, but it’s like the new world order–”
Rao Dao Zao: It’s a reboot, yeah.
Chris: Ah, it’s James Bond versus the Illuminati. And then Skyfall, “nope, we’re not gonna give you that now, we’re gonna do this–”
Rao Dao Zao: “How about we blow up a Home Alone country house in Scotland?”
Chris: And then you get to the end of Skyfall, and you get, M’s back, all the tropes are in place, ♫ da-na da-daa da-na-naaa, he’s James Bond now– nope, we’re not doing that now.
Rao Dao Zao: Naaaaaaaaah.
Chris: And then it gets to the end of SPECTRE and it’s like, we didn’t even do the new world order storyline you wanted, and then–
Rao Dao Zao: We did a shitty version!
Chris: And you get this ending where, when we went to see it, we didn’t know that was going to be Daniel Craig’s last Bond film–
Rao Dao Zao: Has he actually said that?
Chris: Apparently, it’s officially rejected now, they’re casting–
Rao Dao Zao: I mean, I hope so– but then again, he’s not the problem, the scripts are the problem.
Chris: What I will say is that, actually, the ending of SPECTRE is slightly stronger on the basis that you know it’s his last. However, when we went to see it, we didn’t know that for a fact, therefore we saw it as set-up set-up set-up, and we’ll never know now.
Rao Dao Zao: No, but we will, because–
Chris: But it’s an endless series of set-up for– there’s never a pay-off, it never gives you what you want it to ever be.
Rao Dao Zao: But the thing is, the current scriptwriters and producers, they’ll put some other Bond in his shoes and it’ll be continuous.
Chris: Do you think that’s what they’re going to do?
Rao Dao Zao: I think that’s– I mean, my dream is another reset, because we have to reset.
Chris: Fuckin’ reset.
Rao Dao Zao: With Elba, Idris Elba I think would be amazing as Bond. As a proper Brosnan-style, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, techno, silly gadgets, fun, bombast with a bit of serious, a bit of edge — totally, I think that would be perfect.
Chris: Can I just say, I want to put this on record, for the Idris Elba argument, the idea that he can’t play Bond because he’s black is bullshit.
Rao Dao Zao: That’s not even a question — he’s got the swagger, he’s got the posture, he’s got the acting chops, he’s got literally everything—
Chris: If you can give M a vagina, fucking Bond’s skin colour can change. Nothing is going to more fundamentally alter a character than a gender change.
Rao Dao Zao: There is no issue.
Chris: If the genie is out of the bottle then… Then it’s all fair game. I’m like you, I don’t see an issue, it wouldn’t even cross my mind — the guy has everything required to do this to a Sean Connery level of brilliance.
Rao Dao Zao: I have seen Idris Elba in many great things and he has been an excellent actor across the board, and I have seen him in things that are vaguely Bond-like and you’re like “ah, I can see him doing Bond”.
Chris: I have a list of other actors that I could also see doing it, but head and shoulders, 20% above everyone else, this is the guy to take the part.
Rao Dao Zao: But it’s not gonna happen, because they will choose somebody shit–
Chris: For bullshit reasons.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah, for bullshit reasons.
Chris: Because they’ll buy into that argument, they’ll listen to those people, and it will be like “he can’t be black” even though he’d be the most perfect candidate to this, they will buy into this shit and it won’t happen.
Rao Dao Zao: And they won’t reboot it and they won’t clear away all the bullshit.
Chris: People also say, “oh, he’s too old, he’s too old”–
Rao Dao Zao: He’s not too old!
Chris: The thing is too, he doesn’t have to fight like Daniel Craig. You can just adapt it– I don’t even see him doing that kind of fight, I see him being that–
Rao Dao Zao: Because as apparently I said, that physically is not actually Bond. He doesn’t need to be super-physical, punchy…
Addendum: I haven’t seen the comment that I’m apparently referring to here in any of the transcripts, must have been a bad line that didn’t make an edit. I’m right, though — the endless bathroom fight at the start of Casino Royale doesn’t feel quite right against other Bond opening sequences. I suppose I see him as more of a shooter than a straight-up brawler — he’s certainly stealthier than rolling battles across town. (Counterpoint: rolling battles across town can still be excellent, see Godzilla and Pacific Rim.)
Chris: To me, Idris Elba’s the Bond, I can see him walking down the corridor, there’s a guy, two guards are guarding a door, and he takes them down in two moves — adjusts tie and walks on. That’s his Bond, that IS Bond. For him to actually get into serious physical, boom-boom-boom, actually fight–
Rao Dao Zao: That’s the boss scene at the end of the film.
Chris: That’s the boss scene, exactly. If every guy he fights is like a henchman fight, a big-level henchman fight, the side-henchman, the main henchman — if every fight is a fight to the death, it depletes Bond’s value, because Bond should be a guy that can take out every grunt in two moves, until he gets to the semi-boss battle, and the final eventual ultimate villain.
Rao Dao Zao: The serious people, the big guys.
Chris: Whereas, every Daniel Craig film is full of it. He gets jumped in movies all the time, and these fights are a struggle. To me, no, Bond should be like “boom boom boom boom boom”, unless the guy that’s tackling him is the main character, or someone we should care about. To me, every fight he doesn’t win smoothly depletes his value as the iconic superhero. It’s like Batman struggling to take out a bank robber, that level–
Rao Dao Zao: I’m the Batman.
Chris: Batman should fuckin’ wipe out any bank robber going, unless they’re a supervillain, or they’re a demi-supervillain sidekick of the main villain. Batman should be able to wipe out anyone moving, and Bond should be the same way.
Rao Dao Zao: I guess it comes back to that… We understand that we’re in it for the action, and they’ve given us action — but the wrong kind of action. Instead of giving us explosions with meaningful characters, no, the audience wants fight scenes, therefore we’ll give them a load of fight scenes against random bad guys, random soldiers we don’t care about.
Chris: What are you trying to establish with the character? If your aim is, that we’re trying to establish Bond as a physical threat, the logical thing in my head to do with that, is to make him a guy that can kill anyone in two moves. Because that’s who he should be, that’s a real physical threat. If he’s going up against–
Rao Dao Zao: And then when you finally see him fighting a guy that’s tough, it’s — “uh oh!”
Chris: Casino Royale, the opening sequence, he’s fighting this guy in the bathroom, smashing him through stalls, de-de-de — but this guy’s a random dude, Bond should be able to beat him in a move!
Rao Dao Zao: Crack in the back of the skull, snap, the end.
Chris: The fight, to give SPECTRE credit, plus Bautista, I’m gonna put Team Bautista over, he’s actually turned out to be a crackin’ actor, he was really good in Guardians of the Galaxy, I thought he was actually really good in SPECTRE too — and, everything he did in that movie was probably more on-point than anyone else in the movie.
Rao Dao Zao: He was the henchman! He got the looks, well, he cracked the guy’s neck at the table didn’t he? We build Bautista up as a special henchman, he’s not just “a guy”.
Chris: This is what I’m getting at, if he’s “just a guy”, Bond should kill him right away.
Rao Dao Zao: So he’s the second level, he’s just killed the other top dog to get into the Illuminati — so we’ve been introduced to him, we’ve escaped from him in the car chase, the shitty car chase, but we escaped from him, so we know, this guy– then we get the climatic fight with him and then… he gets killed.
Addendum: OR DOES HE? We see him fall out of a train, but we do not see a death-blow. I would say “Bautista for Jaws Mk II”, but then again, I wouldn’t want to shackle him to a franchise that’s spiralling down the pan. Hang off, Dave, we’ll hire you when we make it in Hollywood!
Chris: He’s the ultimate villain. But what I’m coming back to with the Casino Royale thing, what I’m trying to get over here… When you write that scene, why are you writing it? What are we trying to convey to the audience? The physicality is one element, but you also have a thing where Bond is now a guy– even Pierce Brosnan would be like, bam bam bam bam bam, headshot guy, done. Every Bond really in the history of Bond has done that. Until you get to the Jaws character, the final boss level guy, Bond can typically take out most people pretty swiftly.
Rao Dao Zao: Just chops them on the back of the neck, and they go down.
Chris: So everyone’s like “but he can fight now!” Can he?
Rao Dao Zao: Ha, yeah.
Chris: Because what you’re conveying is, the fight sequences last longer, but it’s conveying to me that–
Rao Dao Zao: Actually, he’s less good a fighter, yeah.
Chris: The fights are going longer because he’s struggling to beat them! If he was a better fighter, he’d be able to do this guy in three moves. It’s that thought process, it’s over-thinking all the wrong things.
Rao Dao Zao: That’s the thing, it’s interpreting the audience in the wrong way. “The audience want fight scenes, so we will give them fight scenes”. But– yeah, not fight scenes in that context.
Chris: Have him beat two guys. In fact, fuck, it makes more sense in the thing, because the line of that is supposed to be “how many kills does it take to become a double-oh? Two”. Have him beat two guys in the bathroom stall — it’s two-on-one and he kills both in the same scene, and now he’s a double-oh because he’s that fucking good.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah.
Chris: That is way more impactful than– basically, a fight that, two drunk guys in a drunken night-club could fucking have that fight. Whereas Bond should be, walks in, smashes the guy twice, puts him in the sink, drowns him to death, and then shoots the guy in the head, you’re a double-oh. As opposed to, a guy that is smaller than I am… I can’t beat him. I’m like, what is the narrative logic of this? What are we trying to convey?
Rao Dao Zao: That’s the thing, we’re not trying to convey anything. We’re trying to convey “a fight scene”.
Chris: That’s the whole point, it’s like, instead of looking at it like– it annoys me, like– it’s like, “but they’re so intelligent, they’re doing Bond like the book!” Are they? Because they’re not! They’re going “Batman Begins did this, therefore we must do that” or “they like fight scenes now, so we have to do this.” There is no thought. They’re not looking at it from “what is the story we’re trying to tell”.
Rao Dao Zao: Disparate ideas, yeah.
Chris: They’re going like, “oh we’ll have this aesthetic look, and okay, now the gadgets are all oldschool now, because we’re going to go against the grain–”
Rao Dao Zao: Yeaaah.
Chris: Yeahh! But with no logic applied to it, or no follow-through. We’ll have a radio the size of a thumb, but we’ve got nanotechnology– in the same movie.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah. Smart blood.
Chris: Smart blood.
Rao Dao Zao: Smart blood.
Chris: Smart blood, dumb plot, that’s how it works. The writing’s on the wall, because it wasn’t in the fuckin’ script man! Fuck this whole fuckin’ franchise. Stop thinking they’re good, they’re fuckin’ shit! I’m raging now, I’m so irritated by this whole fuckin’ thing. Fuckin’ say something for a bit, I need to take a minute to sit down–
Rao Dao Zao: … aaaand breathe.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah.
Chris: We haven’t even got to the “fuck-you trumpet” yet.
Rao Dao Zao: (trumpet noise)
Chris: The Fuck-You Trumpet of Sky— Crater Base and Fuck-You Trumpet to me are the ultimate, like, “we don’t care what the audience want”.
Rao Dao Zao: I guess, I’m coming in as a proper sci-fi fan… Like, you don’t get a lot of sci-fi films at the cinema, so you’re used to what few you get being… pretty shit. So I’m kinda like, “awww, I’ve been let down again, oh well.” I keep, you know, I’ll still go and see all these things thinking, “yeah, this time’s the one!” And then sometimes you get a John Carter, and you’re like, “oh my god, this is actually the best thing I’ve ever seen for years”. And then you’re just like, “well, Bond…” The thing is, I wasn’t fussed about going to see Skyfall, ’cause I knew that Quantum of Solace was shit — so I was like “do I actually care to see the follow-up? Well, no…” But the family are all like “yeah Robbie, let’s go and see Skyfall!” and I was like “fine…” And it… was what it was. And with SPECTRE, I was like, “I don’t really care about SPECTRE,” and then…
Chris: I made you go and see SPECTRE.
Rao Dao Zao: And Chris McPhail was like “Oh! Oh! Robbie! Let’s go and see SPECTRE!” And I was like “fine…”
Chris: I wasn’t going to go and see it, again, I was like you, I was like “I don’t like these films”.
Rao Dao Zao: They’ve lost me.
Chris: I read online, prior to going to see it, that– it didn’t officially say “retcon”, but there was some kind of plot spoiler stuff–
Rao Dao Zao: We got a retcon.
Chris: And I looked at it, and I was like… “are they gonna… they’re gonna try and claim they had this all planned out from the start?” I didn’t think they were gonna do it in a way where actually they’d have a character literally say that on camera, going “it was me all along!”, and they did and it was terrible.
Rao Dao Zao: It’s pantomime, it’s ham, the worst kind of ham.
Chris: We joke about it now, but actually when we went to see it–
Rao Dao Zao: We laughed.
Chris: But we didn’t laugh enough, because it wasn’t even in that way that it was so bad that we could laugh as a comedy — it was bad.
Rao Dao Zao: No, it wasn’t. Yeah, it wasn’t laughter, it was a painful grunt of laughter. It was shock, I was shocked — I was like “oh my god, that film has actually just done that.” It was funny but it was shockingly funny, it was just… “wow”. And people are– like, Writing’s on the Wall won a fucking Grammy! And you’re like, “WHAT?”
Chris: What is going on? What is this shit?
Rao Dao Zao: This is like, actually, this is one of the worst films I’ve seen in years, with one of the worst theme tunes I’ve ever heard, and… But somehow…
Chris: But it’s good. But it’s good, apparently it’s good.
Rao Dao Zao: Apparently it’s good.
Chris: But it’s not.
Rao Dao Zao: And then all these excellent– John Carter is never gonna get a sequel because it didn’t sell enough, Edge of Tomorrow just got panned, and you’re like “WHAT? WHAT?”
Addendum: I’m never going to let this go. John Carter is a truly brilliant film, masterful acquisition of all biscuits — unmatch style and verve, chunky narrative, beautiful world-building. To my shame, however, I didn’t go to see Edge of Tomorrow at the cinema — I got it on DVD some time later when I needed a Saturday night fix. I’m not exactly a fan of Tom Cruise but the film was over-all excellent enough to offset that — at least Edge of Tomorrow is a solid stand-alone film, but its performance will still discourage similar outings.
Chris: The Karl Urban Judge Dredd film that came out, it was a great– it’s turned into a cult hit, there’s an underground movement–
Rao Dao Zao: Not a bad film, yeah.
Chris: There’s a movement now trying to get a sequel funded for that, because it was so good, and I loved it, and it deserves a sequel, but because… fucking… other shittier films came out that had a bigger advertising budget, therefore they got…
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah, and the critics just said “neh neh neh nyeeeeh”.
Chris: … (laughter) (pale imitation of Rao Dao Zao’s above herp-a-derping) Shall we explain what… Which one do you wanna do first, the Fuck-You Trumpet or Crater Base? ’cause those have to be the two, the pinnacle of bad narrative.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah, they’re both the same aren’t they.
Chris: They are the same thing, but… I know which one annoyed me more, ’cause I know when you came out of SPECTRE you kept just going on about this fucking–
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah, let’s go Crater Base then.
Chris: Okay, do you wanna take that first?
Rao Dao Zao: So, yeah. What, Bond gets a train to the middle of nowhere, a random taxi cab comes up to him but it’s a baroque taxi from the 20s or something, because… because cars in the desert, and they drive into the crater base, and it’s like “aw yeah? It’s a crater base!”
Chris: It’s classic Bond.
Rao Dao Zao: With a crazy sci-fi scientific facility in it, and then they show him a meteorite and it’s like “woooh!” and it’s like yeah, this is– then it just blows up and they go away.
Chris: Do you remember the line, though, after–
Rao Dao Zao: It was a waste of a good location. That should have been the final boss, that was the middle of the film.
Chris: There we go. That’s your Only Live Twice volcano base, that’s the contemporary equivalent.
Rao Dao Zao: It’s like, “mmm, I like this”.
Chris: An evil lair that’s made from an asteroid crater.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah.
Chris: That is Bond to fuck.
Rao Dao Zao: And has pipes and wires and computers everywhere.
Chris: I don’t think it’s on camera for more than ten minutes.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah.
Chris: Because they just… skirt over it.
Rao Dao Zao: ’cause the thing is, you make a thing of a location because it’s important, because it’s cool. So there’s clearly somewhere in the producers’, directors’, scriptwriters’ heads, there’s the idea of a cool location — they just haven’t the faintest idea what to do with a cool location, and how a cool location should be presented. It’s like, no, this is–
Chris: It’s on camera I think for less than ten minutes, I could be wrong but that’s my guesstimate.
Rao Dao Zao: It blows up a bit and then they go away to somewhere else that we don’t care about.
Chris: Do you remember the bit, though, when they blow it up, and then Daniel Craig turns to the Bond girl and says “It’s not over yet”, and I can consciously remember thinking in the cinema, “I think it should be“.
Rao Dao Zao: (sigh) yeah…
Chris: Like, I don’t know where you go from asteroid crater base– unless you have the finale– unless you’re going to go into outer space…
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah. It comes back to the classic idea of escalation. You do something big, you now have to do something bigger to top that.
Chris: Right, it’s like — Goldeneye, tank chase through St. Petersburg, how are we gonna top that? Giagantic fucking underwater satellite dish
Rao Dao Zao: Satellite dish base, and the nuke satellite’s in orbit about to launch.
Chris: Escalation. Escalation, it’s going up.
Rao Dao Zao: The thing about the tank chase is, although it’s a cool thing, but it happens in a mundane location. So it’s, okay, this is middle sequence, this is our car chase, we’re getting ready but we’re not there yet, but we’re going there. And then they escape on the… fucking cool Russian, Soviet bullet train.
Chris: Again, even that, like — phwooaaar.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah.
Chris: Such a good fuckin’ movie. Even the transitions between what’s going on are amazing!
Rao Dao Zao: That’s when you come back to things like, why is Star Wars so fucking good? ’cause it looks amazing. The design of everything is just… fucking… oaah.
Chris: The thing is, that Soviet missile train, that would be the biggest thing in a Daniel Craig movie
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah, and it would just drive along and go away again.
Chris: In Goldeneye, in the context of what is actually happening, that’s like a fucking minor blip in the whole…
Rao Dao Zao: It’s a contrivance that gets from there to the base, the end.
Chris: Rather than going “they’re on a train”– no, it’s a fucking bullet train. Why make it boring when you can do something really big with it? Even Sean Connery did this — I’m sure there’s a bit, it’s one of the films where they have to cross continent and go some– not cross continent, across the sea, rather, that’s what I’m getting at — so they do it at the time, hovercraft transporter, I think that people thought this was gonna be the next sea liner, and they have that happen in it. It’s something big, it’s different, how to make it exciting. Every moment on film in a Bond movie should be exciting and big!
Rao Dao Zao: Showing you something that you don’t see in real life every day!
Chris: Let’s come back to the escalation point — because we said there, train, satellite. Whereas, in SPECTRE, you have, I mean–
Rao Dao Zao: I can’t even remember what happens after the crater base.
Chris: They go back to London, they go back to the MI6 building.
Rao Dao Zao: (sigh)
Chris: Again, you’re going backwards.
Rao Dao Zao: Yes, they do. It’s like– even I have been to London, once. It’s lovely, it’s London, but, like, I don’t wanna– I’ve seen it in all the crime dramas I’ve ever watched on the BBC.
Addendum: it did, however, take me 27 years to achieve London — and I was only finally enticed by the prospect of seeing Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark perform Dazzle Ships in its entirety in a special one-off concert in the Royal Albert Hall. Oh me oh my, had I been waiting all those years to hear Telegraph live. Hell, I bought my first gig T-shirt there too! What a night! (Also went for a few days either side and did touristy stuff. Parakeets in Hyde Park!)
Chris: That’s the problem, it’s over-exposure. We’ve seen the River Thames. The thing is, not to give Brosnan more credit, but you’re not going to top…
Rao Dao Zao: Crazy boat chase.
Chris: A boat chase that’s gonna be better than World Is Not Enough.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeaaah.
Chris: Because that won awards, within the tourist industry, ’cause that was such a great advert for London.
Rao Dao Zao: But that was also the early opening sequence, that wasn’t even the climax of the film!
Chris: (laughter) And it’s still better than the climax of this fucking movie! That’s the whole point, if you’ve hit asteroid, meteor base, the River Thames is not going to top that. And how could you possibly be writing a script, and no-one’s in the room going–
Rao Dao Zao: “Wait a minute!”
Chris: “Wait a minute, maybe they should be the other way around.”
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah.
Chris: You know, maybe that should be the finale. And it just… ohhhhh (sobbing)
Rao Dao Zao: The other thing about the crater base is that crater base is where he’s got his surveillance centre — and they blow it up. And it’s like, there, you’ve destroyed his surveillance centre, it’s over… It should be over. You’ve killed his power base, apparently.
Rao Dao Zao: Then you haven’t, ’cause then you go back to London and they’re turning on the computer!
Chris: That’s why I came back to that Daniel Craig line, it’s almost like they wrote it, they realised that the audience are probably gonna watch that and go, well, they blew up, effectively, the base, the bit where all the data was gonna go to–
Rao Dao Zao: They killed all the henchmen that were in it.
Chris: Killed everything, that’s it.
Rao Dao Zao: Yeah.
Chris: Job’s a good one, we’re going home. And it’s almost like Daniel Craig had to turn to the camera and go, “don’t get up, nope, no, there’s–”
Rao Dao Zao: The lights are still low.
Chris: “I know, looking at your watches, you’re gonna think ‘third-act finale’. Well, have I got news for you! Everyone fuckin’ sit back down, we’ve got thirty minutes to go!”
Rao Dao Zao: Nah-ah-ah!
Chris: I remember you looking, we went to see this, and I can remember you looking at your watch and being like… “What are we even doing now?”
Rao Dao Zao: We knew, going in, that it was gonna to be a bladder-burster, we knew it was a long Bond film and… It felt it. It’s just like… Cause and effect, the most important about any sequence, or any script, or any film or anything, is that one thing should lead to another… and, I don’t think they even nailed that.
Chris: Yeah, asteroid crater base, where you destroyed the villain’s main hub of information, does not tally with what happens after that.
Rao Dao Zao: With him setting up crazy shit in London, in the ruins of MI6 because… (theatrical sigh)
Chris: It’s like, when you say it out loud, you’re like, there’s no justification, there’s no even– I mean, go big or go home, but when you go big, you have to know when to go home. And I think that’s…
Rao Dao Zao: If you’re going to go big, then you just have to remember that, anything that happens next — you’ve got to go bigger.
Chris: Correct escalation.
Rao Dao Zao: (pop)