When Casino Royale was released in 2006, many Bond fans complained that it was missing the traditional gunbarrel sequence at the beginning.
This bit of Bond-lore had been introduce with Dr No in 1962, although in that first film Bob Simmons stood in as James Bond when he walked across the stage. While later versions of the James Bond gunbarrel sequence have used CGI effects, that first version was shot using a pinhole camera mounted inside the real barrel of a .38 calibre gun; it wasn’t until Thunderball that Sean Connery himself was seen in the gunbarrel sequence, when it was first re-shot due to the film being shot in wide screen Panavision; since then it has been re-done for each new actor.
And there it stayed – at the very beginning of the film – through George Lazenby, Sean Connery (reprising the role in Diamonds Are Forever), Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.
In fact the absence of the traditional gunbarrel in Casino Royale didn’t bother me as the film had so many positives, plus there was a kind of gunbarrel sequence in the black and white fight sequence in the pre-title sequence that definitely nodded in the direction of this James Bond tradition.
Two years later saw Quantum of Solace slated by critics and fans alike, as it missed the spot that Casino Royale had been so successful in finding. Again, many fans didn’t like the fact that there was no gunbarrel at the beginning although it did appear at the end to show that the story arc begun in Casino Royale was now complete.
This time though I think the filmmakers got it wrong.
While I probably wouldn’t have minded so much if they had got more of the film right – including the story, the shaky action shots and editing that rendered the film almost unfollowable – putting it at the end shows that they missed the point.
The real reason for having the gunbarrel sequence at the beginning of the films is simple; it produces an adrenaline rush thanks to a Pavlovian response.
“This is exciting; this is James Bond”, our conditioned reflexes are telling us.
So, there are some things I don’t mind whether they put them in Bond 23 – when they finally get around to making it – such as “Shaken, not stirred” or “Bond, James Bond”; when they’re done well I love them, but they aren’t as important as a good script.
However, whether Bond 23 turns out to be good or not – I’m hoping for good, but wouldn’t place any money on it – I’d at least want to experience that surge of adrenaline before the pre-title sequence, a ray of hope before the film really begins.