Dr. No (1962)
It kicked off the longest-running movie franchise in history for a reason, folks.
Dr. No is about the most pimpin’ secret agent at Britain’s disposal (way more pimpin’ than the six dudes before him) who gets shipped off to Jamaica to crack some skulls and investigate the murder of a fellow double-O that was stationed there. With each new bullet he dodges and each new bombshell he lands in the sack, our suave motherfucker of the hour starts to realize that this goes way beyond someone getting offed over a stolen case of Red Stripe, this is a case of…world domination! TIME TO KICK SOME ASS!
So way back in good ol’ December of 2010, my buddy Paul over at Paragraph Film Reviews signed me up to take part in a “James Bond January” month-long review fest where I was supposed to run through the whole JB franchise in one fell swoop along with a handful of other highly respectable movie nerds around the blogosphere. Sadly, I have failed miserably at this task and am now forced to milk this baby into “James Bond Indefinitely” event that will hopefully wrap up right around the day Bond 23 hits theaters. In my defense, I blame the crew behind Netflix Instant for not getting their shit together when everyone obviously knew that this was happening, but alas, I’ll pick up the slack in due time.
Anywho, I can’t even remember how old I was when I first saw this movie but all I know is that I was way too young to appreciate it. Going into it again without the attention span of a Jack Russell on meth, I had two memories to go off of: this movie was boring and Dr. No goes out like a bitch. Luckily, my thoughts on the former have changed drastically over the years, but Dr. No does go out like quite the bitch.
I guess the best thing about Dr. No is that it’s simply James Bond before Q entered the picture and turned the guy into the sexpot version of Inspector Gadget. This is the kind of bare-bones vibe that Casino Royale successfully replicated and straying away from that vibe is exactly what sent the series down the shitter time and time again. It’s great to see Bond having to use his brain, brawn and kryptonic sex appeal to get out of sticky situations instead of turning his sports car into a parasail to escape an Arctic tidal wave. It seems like he’s always up against the ropes, never in charge of the situation and has to act on the fly in order to stay alive, and I love that, you worry about him a lot more when the chips are down.
With the exception of a chase scene with a hearse that’s about as convincing holding up a dinner plate while looking through a View-Master and Bond’s penchant for punching out everyone he runs past during his escape from an island’s self-destruct system, the action scenes actually aren’t half bad. Lots of punching and such, lots of stealth kills will sleek little guns that fit nicely in one’s back pocket, nothing fancy and that’s the way you do it. But I gotta say, Bond does have a pretty slick quip after the said chase scene comes to a fiery end:
Construction Worker: “What happened?”
James-Fucking-Bond: “I think they were on their way to a funeral.”
That’s right, Jamaican assassins. We laugh at your stupid deaths.
And how about that Sean Connery, huh? What a boss. The dude just looks the part, he makes cool look easy and I can see how the ladies would be helpless to resist his effortless sex appeal (I don’t know about all four of the ladies, but definitely one or two). He’s the best Bond there ever was and he sure did set the bar pretty high. Ursula Andress is also doing her thing as the first Bond girl with a truly dumbass name, Honey Ryder, and it’s impossible to watch Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No without thinking of Dr. Evil in that ridiculous see-through hazmat suit.
With that being said, I’ve got Austin Powers to thank for every last gripe I’ve got with this movie. You’ve got your highly-escapable life-and-death situations, villains who would rather have dinner with his enemy than just shoot him in the face, Bond knocking boots with all four of those girls on the poster with hardly so much as a fart for a pick-up line, and a whole mess of other stuff that was probably pretty cool back in the ’60s but rings pretty ridiculous almost half a century later. Had no idea that so much of what those movies were harpooning was taken right from here. But by the same token, I still think some of this stuff would have been pretty laughable even if Mike Meyers hadn’t pointed it out to begin with.
Bizarre opening credits sequence, too. Someone was definitely hittin’ the bong that day.
I wasn’t expecting to like Dr. No all that much, but for all the faults that it sets itself up for, it’s still an awesome, old school example of the essential James Bond. This is were it all started, gang, and while it’s definitely dated in some respects and surprisingly hard to follow sometimes, it’s still a fun time and got me a lot more pumped for this epic Bond-a-thon than I had been initially.
And what a kickass poster. They sure knew how to make ’em back then.