Think Again About that Invisible Car

General Bond discussion from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan

Think Again About that Invisible Car

Postby acid » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:06 pm

An invisible car! It's one of the first things a fan will bring up when they want to distance themselves from Bond before Daniel Craig. That tired, worn-out criticism has been spreading like an infectious disease amongst the Craigskis so they all robotically roll it out. They mockingly scoff and laugh about the car but really I don't think they're pouring scorn on the car itself. The car is just a sort of sacrificial effigy, a painted target for the Brosnan bashers to direct their disdain at, to discredit not just Die Another Day but also Brosnan himself and his whole portrayal of Bond throughout all four of his movies.

I have to say, that regardless of this, even I think that Die Another Day is a pretty poor Bond movie. The basic problem was that they just got too carried away with it and went completely over the top, throwing as many outlandish effects and big ideas in as they could; many of them being homages borrowed from earlier Bond flicks as well, by their own admission, and some would say made worse.

Then we come to the car itself, the Aston Martin Vanquish. An Aston always drips with British prestige and style and is therefore the epitome of Bondian transport. So the make and model remained a good choice for Bond and a welcome return after the BMWs product-placed into the previous movies. So far, so good. Next to aid Bond in his spycraft it seems only reasonable that Q Branch should kit it out with some handy gadgets. This was of course done to great effect in the hugely memorable Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger.

There's no getting away from it now. It's time to face this gadget head on. It's time to consider Die Another Day's poisoned chalice, the straw that the Craigskis would no doubt claim broke the camel's back, the demonic cursed artifact that supposedly made a joke out of an entire franchise such that only Craig's gritty, pure Fleming performance could possibly save it! Yeah, right.

Yes, yes, it was an Aston Martin that could be rendered invisible - certainly an extremely high-tech and exotic idea - and the ridicule this concept repeatedly gets certainly wasn't helped by the light-hearted way it was first introduced, by John Cleese no less. Some of the detractors probably feel Cleese is a bit typecast as a comedian which might add to the idea that the car is being played for laughs but I actually think he can make a fairly reasonable Q. The jokes with Q have traditionally occurred inside the Bond universe, often with Bond himself cracking them at Q's expense and Cleese's pleasingly pompous style works pretty well with that. It just about manages to avoid descending into full-blown self-parody.

On this first appearance of the car, to the viewer it seems to be perfectly invisible to the point that there doesn't even seem to be anything there at all. This, I would suggest, is the cardinal sin in the eye of the Craigski, the fatal flaw in the delivery of this idea. If they'd made the effect imperfect so you could just about see a somewhat believable outline of the car, they might just have got away with it. You do see a hint of this with the way John Cleese's legs appear to wrap around the body of the invisible car as he walks past it, but the rest of the time it's still too perfect. At one point it gets called "adaptive camouflage" which, if you like technology and a hint of science fiction in your movies, is dare I say it, pretty cool. It was certainly popular in Predator, where the villain changes "like the chameleon" to become invisible, although in that case it's alien technology of course. Is alien adaptive camouflage technology less laughable then than the latest top secret human tech that achieves the same thing? I'm not convinced, because you have to actually find a real alien first. On the other hand, Cleese's Q (or is it R?) even does us the courtesy of providing a straight up description of how the technology really works. Tiny cameras on one side of the vehicle capture images of the scenery behind it which are then projected onto the opposite side of the vehicle. If you think this is ridiculous, or impossible, think again. There have already been a few prototypes attempting this sort of thing. The British TV show Top Gear even featured a crude proof of concept, a van covered in flat screens that they drove around town.

The invisible Aston Martin was certainly a very outlandish concept but, at least before Craig took over, the Bond movies have always been about pushing the envelope, showcasing cutting edge technology, unusual inventions, and new stunts and effects. Given the decades that have passed and the rapid pace of technological change in the world, is that car really so much more far-fetched than Bond's jet pack in Thunderball, or Blofeld's space laser in Diamonds Are Forever, or even Blofeld's spacecraft-eating spacecraft in You Only Live Twice?

I think it was maybe a case of the right idea at the wrong time, because the invisible car was just one example of a larger muddle of many extreme gadgets and computer-generated special effects that just left Die Another Day feeling sort of tacky. But what the Craigskis conveniently overlook is that none of that had anything to do with Pierce Brosnan. Replacing him with Daniel Craig didn't replace the authors of that script. It didn't replace the production team. Pierce's Bond was one of the best things about Die Another Day.
Last edited by acid on Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:27 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Think Again About that Invisible Car

Postby Kristatos » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:10 pm

Don't confuse them with facts, Acid. The Craigskis still insist that DAD "almost killed the franchise", despite being the biggest grossing Bond film up to that point, at least in unadjusted dollars.

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Re: Think Again About that Invisible Car

Postby acid » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:46 pm

Kristatos wrote:Don't confuse them with facts, Acid. The Craigskis still insist that DAD "almost killed the franchise", despite being the biggest grossing Bond film up to that point, at least in unadjusted dollars.


You're right Kris. If it wasn't DAD, it would be something else. They just have to grab a scapegoat so they can trash everything non-Craig. Except Connery. Some classic Bond aspects are sacred even to Craigskis. They wouldn't find anyone to take them seriously otherwise.
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Re: Think Again About that Invisible Car

Postby dirtybenny » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:14 pm

A very thorough and thought provoking rant Acid! :cheers: I enjoy it very much and couldn't have said it better myself!

Kristatos wrote:Don't confuse them with facts, Acid. The Craigskis still insist that DAD "almost killed the franchise", despite being the biggest grossing Bond film up to that point, at least in unadjusted dollars.



Good point Kris, I don't want to make this about myself as this is Acid's show, but as I point out in my rant on the subject, DAD is still the 5th highest grossing Bond film worldwide unadjusted and the 6th highest in the U.S. after adjustment! Not to mention DAD was shown in 50 fewer markets! Again not trying to hijack Acid's great piece but rather trying to bolster his point.
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Re: Think Again About that Invisible Car

Postby Omega » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:54 pm

d**n! acid!
Great rant!

Most forget that the invisibility was not just sci-fi I think a few years before DAD it made news when someone developed it with the hopes of camouflaging tanks and buildings and other things.
Obviously it still has not been perfected because every few years another story pops up of similar developments. But it was real tech.





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Re: Think Again About that Invisible Car

Postby Omega » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:04 am

acid wrote:
Kristatos wrote:Don't confuse them with facts, Acid. The Craigskis still insist that DAD "almost killed the franchise", despite being the biggest grossing Bond film up to that point, at least in unadjusted dollars.


You're right Kris. If it wasn't DAD, it would be something else. They just have to grab a scapegoat so they can trash everything non-Craig. Except Connery. Some classic Bond aspects are sacred even to Craigskis. They wouldn't find anyone to take them seriously otherwise.


IMHO Brosnan and DAD had to be attacked because there was no good answer for why Craig and why now.
I remember some here saying it was incredibly stupid move to willingly attack your own brand when your competitors will do it for you for free. But there was a point before CR was released where Babs and Craig really believed he’d fail. I want to say there’s some story about the studio watching the numbers opening weekend and calling in the good news to babs.
I don’t think Sony and eon had no idea what they encouraged by attacking DAD and bond like this, it gave talking point to bloggers and critics who wanted to seem edgy, helped build Craig up but at what cost. Craig cheapened the brand, took it down a dead end road narratively, more importantly opened the brand James Bond up to being savaged by media and others who want to seem on the cutting edge. Maybe not this next movie but some day the narrative will be how poorly run this series is.


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