I think I have come up with the best idea for a film ever.
It’s a Bond film, and it starts fairly conventionally. It opens, in time-honoured fashion, with an action sequence; James needs to (intercept a contact/grab some plans/plant a bug) in a (Turkish oil refinery/Iranian nuclear facility/Chinese shoelace factory), but sadly he somehow manages to draw the attention of the trigger-happy garrison, leading to a standard Bond versus detachment of slightly incompetent foreign soldiers scene from which Bond emerges with a graze and a successfully (intercepted contact/tube of blueprints/deposited illicit microphone).
This is followed by sensual silhouettes in a brightly-coloured, kaleidoscopic, computer-graphicked title sequence, and then, cut back to London, where he gets a dressing down from M for the huge body count in the last scene, flirts casually with Moneypenny, and then pops down to see John Cleese (a moment’s silence as we all shed a collective tear…the franchise has moved on) to receive an array of implausible gadgets to set up a series of even more implausible escapes later in the flick.
Having been issued with a new mission in Russia, the writers clearly lamenting the cessation of Cold War hostilities, Bond sets out to investigate a suspicious remote scientific facility with connections to a rogue ex-Soviet general.
He touches down by parachute a mile from the base. After a short walk, he’s at the back gate. With a deft martial arts move he immobilises one of the guards, drags him behind a silo and steals his clothes. (In case there’s any ambiguity in that previous sentence, all three clauses were part of the deft, and admittedly extended, martial arts move.) He sneaks up a fire escape and opens the door with an electronic lockpick disguised as a cigarette paper.
Dispensing with the Russian soldier’s outfit, he sneaks through the facility, gathering intel’. Unfortunately, he catches the eye of a guard who sets off the alarm.
He runs for it, dodging bullets and taking the odd potshot with a dinky pistol from Cleese. After running through a few doors, he finds himself on a gantry in a hangar. The soldiers below spot him and open fire; he makes a run across the gantry. Sparks fly from the metal as bullets ricochet all around him. The camera flies alongside him as he nears the door on the other side of the hangar. Suddenly, he falls; the camera flies on, leaving him behind.
A new camera, above Bond and slowly descending, shows him lying, motionless on the gantry, a pool of blood slowly expanding around his head. It’s twenty-two minutes into the film. Bond is dead.
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail style, the entire credits were subtly inserted into the sexy title sequence, so we can just fade to black, and silence.
Best. Film. Ever.
There are several reasons why this film could never get made. First and foremost, it would be commercial suicide. The only time the big money would allow it would be as a ridiculous publicity stunt if the franchise was drying up, and to make it a last-ditch cash grab would totally destroy the artistry and surprise, at least a quarter of which is caused by Bond’s cultural immortality rather than his on-screen invincibility.
A further 25% of the surprise comes from the mundane nature of his takedown; Bond dies not in a decisive battle with this film’s arch-nemesis, not despatched by British black ops in a harrowing commentary on patriotic self-sacrifice, not even given the dignity of being taken out by a cool sniper, but by taking one of the hail of bullets from Eastern European extras. He can normally win a fight against anyone who has had less than two minutes on screen. Not this time.
Another quarter of the surprise is caused by the surprise. Twenty minutes in is the ideal point to destroy Jim-bob because it would be utterly unexpected. In the opening action sequence would be too soon, before you’d settled into it, and a poignant final-scene demise would be too standard. By twenty minutes in, the Bond franchise has hypnotised you into its predictable, almost tranquil rhythm. You kind-of know how the rest of the film will pan out. You’re sitting back in your chair waiting to be blown away by this latest action-packed effects-fest, and then, suddenly, it’s all over.
Sadly, the surprise would be a problem: there’s just no way you could keep the tin lid on this. There would be a good portion of the human race who would enjoy the practical joke they’d just had played on them, and would want to see it played on their friends. They would go home and report how excellent the film was, perhaps lament the dragged-out hour-long poker match towards the end (did the director not learn from Casino Royale?), and how much they’re looking forward to the next one having seen how great this one was. But a probably larger proportion of the population are idiots and would think that there was nothing more hilarious than to leak it on the Internet, or write spoilers into their film reviews, under the impression that they were the only toss-pot/journalist/toss-pot journalist to have had that highly original idea. Ha ha fucking ha.
The final portion of surprise would come from having spent six pounds on a frankly overpriced two hours’ entertainment and only got twenty minutes. Collusion with the picture houses should allow the film to be billed as a 167-minute epic. You would go to the cinema and emerge shortly afterwards at a loose end, a whole evening ahead of you. It would free us from the shackles of cultural convention. We could all sit in the park and watch the setting Sun, or run naked across a sandy beach, or just find a quiet spot to think and breathe.
If a greater appreciation of the beauty of the world isn’t worth six quid and the death of the World’s favourite fictional spy, I don’t know what is.