Much has been said by Barbara Broccoli (Babs for brevity's sake) about the James Bond “formula” and why it had to go after the “box office failure” of Die Another Day. This is a two part rant. First I defend the “formula” next I discuss how it became so maligned. I find her use of the word “formula” to describe the quintessential elements of the James Bond character interesting, but more on that later. These elements are of course things like gadgets, Moneypenny, Q, M, sophistication, dressing well, exotic locations etc. Without these things, no matter how good or bad the movie turns out, it won’t be a “Bond” movie.A "Bond" movie has a certain feel to it, otherwise you've just got a generic action film, the "formula separates Bond from Bourne, or Die Hard, or Mission Impossible.
As I said the use of the word formula by Babs is interesting to me, as it denotes science, as if there is some mathematical algorithm to create a successful Bond film, a check list of all that MUST be in the film.
“Shaken not stirred”, check
Gadget laden watch, check
“Bond, James Bond”, definitely
Gadget laden car, of course!
If this much “Bond” is good then 10 times as much is ten times better. That changed after DAD “flopped” in her mind. Personally I feel movie making is more culinary than chemistry. A dash of this a pinch of that, season to taste. You don’t throw all the ingredients in the bowl every time you cook, which is precisely what Babs did once she took the reins of EON. The perfect example is this, in the first 30 years of Bond, Cubby Broccoli included a gadget laden spy car 3 times, once per decade. Perhaps out of enjoyment for the idea, maybe the well ran dry, it doesn't’t really matter. Compare that to Babs, 3 cars 3 movies in a row, 4 if you include the Z3 in Goldeneye which had gadgets but weren't’t used. If you pack every movie with every trope, of course things get a little dull, but that doesn't’t mean you throw the baby out with the bath water. I needn't’t tell you the last three “Bond” movies had little to no “Bond” in them, them comes Sectre which forgot the "lessons" learned from DAD and tossed as much ingredients as possible in to the pot and spoiled the broth!
I leave you with this. When Roger Moore took over the role with LALD, Broccoli and Saltzman made a conscious effort to distance him from Connery, no martinis, not even vodka, he only drank bourbon in that film, he smoked cigars rather than cigarettes, Q didn't make an appearance,he didn't even wear a tuxedo ether, yet it didn't’t feel any less “Bond” than the previous films.