I guess he'll die another way, to paraphrase Madonna's lousy theme song for the 20th Bond movie. Bond's survival of baroque death traps has been mocked on screen all the way back to 1965, when the noted character actor Robert Easton had the following line as a fruity-accented Bond type in The Loved One: "I think it could be dicey if he decides to use the giant squid." There was a giant octopus in the novel of Dr. No, though no villain ever actually employed sharks with laser helmets as in the Austin Powers films. However, there had been a planned robot shark in the kinda-non canonical Bond adventure Never Say Never Again. Our hero has dealt with seven especially exotic murder weapons over the years:

1. Death by giant yo-yo:Octopussy (1983) Resting after an exhausting shag with Maud Adams, Commander Bond (Roger Moore) is awakened by the sudden arrival in his bed of a razor-ended steel yo-yo as large as a family-sized pizza. This must have been the invention of co-screenwriter George MacDonald Fraser, who was always menacing his hero Flashman with just such stuff. I can't nail down the exact first use of strapping a heroine to a log and sending her into a sawmill, though this was considered so essential to the silent serials that it was parodied in the titles of TV's Fractured Flickers. This particular flying guillotine, some sort of cousin to this ancient sawmill gag, brings the circle around from silent movie heroism to modern day pulp. 2. Death by shoe knife: From Russia With Love (1964) In the book, this poison tipped shoe put Bond out of commission, leading to the famous rumor that Ian Fleming was trying to kill off his character once and for all. Steven Jay Rubin, a Bond expert, says this isn't true on the commentary track of the recent DVD of Casino Royale (1967). But Rosa Klebb's shoe knife is one of the nastiest weapons in the Bond arsenal; being kicked in the shins hurts enough as it is. When Heath Ledger's The Joker popped out his own shoe stiletto, it was Christopher Nolan's little present to Bond fans worldwide.

3. Death by evil dwarf:The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) Herve Villechaize had a turbulent life, troubled with alcohol personality problems, and the urge to perform music on the Dinah Shore show. (It was Gordon Jenkins' tune "This Is All I Ask" and you need to see it) Even if The Man With the Golden Gun was, um, the fourth worst Bond film of all time, Villechaize got to ambush 007 and almost took him out with a suitably proportioned gun. He was so watchable -- "I may be small, but I never forget" -- that it really hurt to see Nick Nack imprisoned in a suitcase in the end of the film, making impotent threats and calling Bond "a big bully."

4. Death by tarantula:Dr. No (1962) Again it was worse in the book. There, for an entire chapter, a poisonous centipede crawls up 007, stopping to drink the sweat at the roots of his hair (which was by then standing on end). The slowly crawling tarantula in the movie is rather nerve-wracking, even if you can see the plate of glass it's standing on when it traverses Sean Connery's shoulder.

5. Death by snowplow:On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) I turn now to Benjamin Svetkey's Nov 7 Entertainment Weekly article about Quantum of Solace. He describes Daniel Craig in "the sort of brutal hand-to-hand combat that would have sent George Lazenby fleeing into M's arms." Excessive enthusiasm for New Bond should not blind us to how well Old Bond worked, and OHMSS's skiing scenes still hold up better than many of the action sequences in Quantum of Solace. In addition, at least we know what the phrase On Her Majesty's Secret Service means. And when dogging Lazenby, Mr. Svetkey, let's not forget him (or his stunt double's) leap over a bobsled track. A SPECTRE agent following him was not so fortunate...even if he had a lot of guts.

6. Death by poisoned cocktail: The most delightfully improbable moment in Casino Royale (2006) is the last minute rescue of Bond from this Montenegran death trap; the improvised salt-shaker emetic was brilliant; the scene of long-distance calling headquarters and getting walked through the heart-restarting...perhaps a little bit rough for the credulous. On the other hand:

7. Death by celestial laser cannon:Die Another Day(2002) Craig's 007 films are addicted to post Jason Bourne realism; the most exotic weapon Bond faces in Quantum of Solace is a fireman's axe. And thus the craziness of this last Brosnan Bond is roundly disrespected. Invisible car, indeed, snicker these newly minted Bond fans. It's the law: Bond films are repositories of insane material that would be too much like a James Bond film anywhere else. So when 007 is nearly barbecued by a jumbo, half-mile wide beam issuing from the heavens, I'm there-and will always be there, until they plant me.
categories Cinematical