I, unlike many Americans, enjoyed last year’s SPECTRE. I thought it felt very much like a campy late-Connery or Roger Moore James Bond film and it was fun when it wasn’t boring you to death. But then I found this 1990's Pepsi Max commercial, and now there’s no excuses.
Go ahead and stare at that GIF explosion up there a few more dozen times. I’m fairly certain that’s a real airplane with a real stuntman jumping out of it before it really explodes. For a Pepsi Max commercial. I’ve been tweeting about it all day.
Here’s the commercial in full:
It’s amazing, isn’t it? I want to be the typical ‘90s guy at the end, jetpacking away with a girl sipping on sugar-free Pepsi Max! Now compare it to this shit:
How lame is that? It doesn’t compare.
But there’s a bigger issue here with actors doing their own stunts. Ever since Daniel Craig’s first Bond film, Casino Royale in 2006, the whole production has been all about how he’s so physically involved in the movies and does a lot of his own stunts. And there’s the problem.
First of all, an actor throwing punches in a fight is always better than a fist fight edited to shit with people who are clearly not the main actors doing the work. But when it comes to the bigger stuff, making accommodations for your million-dollar actor to do the scene can severely hinder the spectacle of it. This I think was clearly evidenced in SPECTRE.
Instead of getting big spanning wide-shots of huge explosions and amazing stunt-work and special effects, we get a sequence that requires a cut to the actor’s face every ten seconds. It slows down the action and dramatically reduces the impact on the audience. Examples include the horrible car chase between the Aston Martin DB10 and Jaguar C-X75 and the Austrian airplane chase.
That minute-long Pepsi commercial moves like a bullet, and while it’s meant to be silly and overreaching and exaggerate on the Bond spectacle, the opening shot of the man jumping from the plane is ridiculously awesome. I can’t think of a single scene in SPECTRE that tops it.
The second issue with actors pulling their own “stunts,” at least in Daniel Craig’s case, is injuries. Craig received a severe knee injury on set doing his own stunts while filming SPECTRE, which required surgery and a production delay.
There were reportedly plans for a second knee surgery in January, which would have undoubtedly delayed the next Bond film if Craig wasn’t already dismayed from doing it. And now he may be gone for good, and the injuries may have played a part.
My point is to give the stunt work back to the stunt men and women. Bring back the wide-angled spectacle of Bond’s earlier films, and stop trying to convince me that the actor has what it takes.
Sometimes they do, but when they don’t I’d rather you show off the budget through explosions and stunts than with awkward or diminishing close-ups of actors in an environment too safeguarded to be exciting. Let stuntmen do stunts, and let actors act.
Edited: Changed the title to reflect the irony of a Diet Soda sponsored by James Bond