James Bond has a serious alcohol problem, study says

Licence to kill? More like licence to swill.

James Bond has a serious drinking problem, according to new research done right here in New Zealand.

Scientists with arguably the best job in the world watched 24 Bond films, from 1962's Dr No to 2015's Spectre, logging just how much the British spy drank and what he did while under the influence.

They found not only was Bond ready to drink anything - shaken or stirred - he often takes part in dangerous activities while still under the influence.

"Chronic risks include frequently drinking prior to fights, driving vehicles (including in chases), high-stakes gambling, operating complex machinery or devices, contact with dangerous animals, extreme athletic performance and sex with enemies, sometimes with guns or knives in the bed," said lead author Professor Nick Wilson, from the University of Otago.

Deadly animals Bond fought immediately after drinking alcohol include snakes, tarantulas and even a komodo dragon.

"On [one] occasion, after drinking at lunch he chased May Day up the Eiffel Tower, jumped on top of a high speed lift, drove a stolen taxi recklessly on footpaths and through the streets of Paris... then jumped about 10 metres from a bridge and through the roof of a barge," the study notes.

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Photo credit: Eon

Drinking has been a constant feature of the films over the last six decades, with 109 sessions over 24 movies. He meets six of the 11 DSM-5 criteria for having a severe alcohol use disorder, the study claims.

Two particular binges stand out. The first is from Quantum of Solace and saw Bond knock back six Vespers, a gin- and vodka-based cocktail.

"This equates to 24 units of alcohol that would produce a blood alcohol level that is well into the known fatal range," said Prof Wilson.

"But this was low compared to his drinking in one of the James Bond books at 50 units of alcohol in one day, a level of consumption which would kill nearly everyone."

And Bond surely knows he has a problem, says Prof Wilson.

"A medical scan that showed his liver was 'not too good' and a MI6 report on Bond stated, 'alcohol and substance addiction indicated'."

There is some good news though. Bond's use of alcohol as a weapon has declined over time - he's no longer so quick to spike drinks or cut people with broken beer bottles. And he hasn't been seen smoking and drinking at the same time since 2002.

His health also appears to be fine, with no sign of dental erosion from constant champagne breakfasts, and his skin still looks good.

Prof Wilson says next time there's a chance Bond might end up in a helicopter fight or have to defuse a nuclear weapon, he should stay sober - ditto if there's a possibility he might end up in bed with a sexy assassin.

"Bond should neither allow knives in bed nor hide guns under pillows," the researchers say.

And M needs to stop offering him drinks in workplace settings, the study says, and instead get him more field support.

"This may reduce his need to take excessive individual responsibility for mission success, and lessen his drive to pursue missions when off duty (ie, as a rogue agent) and personal vendettas".

The study was published in the Medical Journal of Australia, which is a serious journal that likes to run quirky research in its Christmas issue.

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