Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘James Bond’

We have been waiting a long time for a new James Bond movie.  Development began on No Time To Die all the way back in 2016, a few months after Spectre’s October 2015 release (itself delayed a couple of times).  Danny Boyle was originally attached to direct but left the project in 2018 due to creative differences.  Cary Joji Fukunaga was then hired.  Fukunaga worked with script writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade on a new story, the third script/story as Purvis and Wade’s (who had scripted all of Daniel Craig’s previous Bond movies) original idea had been scrapped when Boyle signed on to direct.  This caused the first significant delay with principal photography commencing in  late April 2019, four to five months after it was originally scheduled.  They wrapped around six months later with final pick-up shots taking place in December.  A month after the originally scheduled release date in November 2019.  The release date was immediately pushed to February 2020 when they announced Boyle’s departure, and then to April 2020 during production.  By February it was clear that COVID-19 wasn’t going away anytime soon, and On 4 March 2020, MGM and Eon Productions announced that the release was to be postponed again, this time until 12 November 2020.  Two further delays have been announced, first to  2 April 2021 and then to 8 October 2021, nearly two years after Danny Boyle’s film was scheduled for release. 

Over the past year I have read numerous stories and tweets from Bond Fans who are undertaking marathon re-watches of the whole Bond film series.  But what do you do when you have watched the movies so many times you can remember every Roger Moore quip,  or know just what time to go and put the kettle on t avoid having to watch Sheriff J.W. Pepper?  What are the other spy films to keep Bond fans entertained while they wait for No Time To Die?  Here are a few suggestions, some obvious, others less so:

North By Northwest (1959): Ian Fleming didn’t intend Dr. No to be the first Bond movie, it wasn’t even going to be based on one of his novels, it was going to be an original idea, that eventually became the basis for his eighth novel  Thunderball (yes you guessed it this was where the infamous Legal disputes started). Fleming wanted the Alfred Hitchcock to direct, but he declined as he had only just made a spy thriller and wanted to do something different.  The spy movie he had just made was North by Northwest, the something different turned out to be Psycho, and Thunderball is a great book so it didn’t turn out too bad, but just imagine a Hitchcock Bond movie! For those who don’t know, North By Northwest is my favourite Hitchcock, and one of my favourite movies.  Taken one of the directors well used tropes of “the wrong man” on the run, the film is absolute perfection.  It zips along with such ease and pace I am always staggered how long it is, the time flies by when you watch it. 

The Ipcress File (1965): Based on Len Deighton’s novel The IPCRESS File, despite sharing a producer with Bond, Harry Saltzman this is far from a Bond movie.  Like When Eight Bells Toll, it is intended to be more realistic than Bond, with its sneering look at bureaucracy  it is almost satirical at times.  But the real difference is the main character, Harry Palmer, played by Michael Caine.  Bond loves his job, or more to the point he loves the trappings of his job, his fancy suits, his Swiss Watch, fast cars, fancy hotels.  Harry Palmer is a reluctant spy, British army sergeant forcibly drafted into the security services to avoid a prison sentence! He just wants to do his time, and would like a pay rise.

When Eight Bells Toll (1971): Made with Bond audiences in mind, but with the intention of being more gritty and realistic.  Based on a novel of the same name by Alistair MacLean, British Treasury secret agent Phillip Calvert (Anthony Hopkins) investigates hijacking of cargo ships in the Irish Sea.  Intended as the first in a series around the time when the Bond franchise was rumoured to be in trouble following the departure of Sean Connery.  Further films never materialised, partly due to poor boxoffice numbers in America, and possibly due to Connery returning to Bond later the same year.  Not a classic, but good fun adventure movie, at 95 minutes it won’t outstay its welcome.  I would watch it over Diamonds Are Forever!

The Russia House (1990): I have largely avoided movies based on John le Carré novels here as they are a very different beast to Bond.  More thoughtful and realistic and lacking the action and adventure associated with Ian Fleming’s creation.  I am not including this as it has any of those elements, quite the opposite,  I have chosen it, because it stars Sean Connery, and he is excellent playing a very different part Bond.  

The Rock (1996): Hands down Michael Bay’s best movie low bar, I know but this is genuinely good! The third and final Sean Connery movie on the list, here, he plays a former British SAS captain and MI6 operative.  Some fans have suggested the character is Bond in all but name, but in a lot of ways he is more badass  than his Bond ever was.  The plot is unimportant filled with McGuffin’s and contrivances but the film is great fun, Connery and co star Nicolas Cage are excellent together. 

The Bourne Identity (2002): Probably the most obvious choice on the list, but an excellent one! Based on Robert Ludlum’s novel of the same name, this first film in the franchise is the only one to take any real plot from the novel series.  Directed by Doug Liman, and often overshadowed by Paul Greengrass who made a further three movies in the series.  My favourite of the Bourne movies, it has the best story and some great performances throughout.  It is also notable for the impact it had on Bond! Released in the summer of 2002, Die Another Day would have been in the can by this time, but it the next Bond movie, Casino Royale four years later was the closest the franchise has come to a reboot, and it was all the better for it. 

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006): If you want spoof of Bond and other spy movies of the genre it isn’t Austin Powers, it has to be Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, AKA OSS 117.  Both Jean Bruce’s OSS 117 spy novels and the first film adaptations of them predate  Ian Flemings Bond novels and EON’s adaptations of them.  I know nothing of the French novels or films beyond the fact there is a lot of them! However, in 2006 the character was re-imagined  by writer director Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo (Hazanavicius’s wife).  You may recognise these names, they went on to make the multi Oscar winning The Artist (2011).  A parody of the genre, OSS117 is an idiot who a little like Inspector Clouseau solves cases by either luck, or other people doing it for him.  There was a sequel  OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009), and a third film is due out this year OSS 117: Alerte rouge en Afrique noire (2021).

Atomic Blonde (2017): What if John Wick was a woman, and she was a spy? That is pretty much what Atomic Blonde is.  Directed by David Leitch who was an uncredited  co-director with Chad Stahelski on the first John Wick movie.  Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City; set in Berlin in 1989 in the last days of the Berlin wall, the plot is a typical find the McGuffin story, this time a list of double agents.  What sets the film apart from anything else, is the style, and breathtaking action.  Its like a Bond or any other film on this list stripped back and boiled down to its core elements.

Red Sparrow (2018): A fictional version of the real life use of “sexpionage” by the Soviet Union, and possibly Russia in the post soviet era.  A decent film with although it does over rely on the charisma of stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton.  Better than the movie I would recommend the trilogy of books (the movie was based on the first) written by Jason Matthews, a former Central Intelligence Agency Officer.  Matthews sadly passed away a few weeks ago, so these three books are his only books. 

Kingsman (2014): As much as I love the Craig era Bond movies, but to quote Harry Hart when asked if he likes spy movies “Nowadays, they’re all a little serious for my taste. But the old ones… marvellous. Give me a far-fetched theatrical plot any day.”  A truly silly film that manages to be a great spy movie and a great spoof of a spy movie at the same time! 

And finally, a few honourable mentions: Mission Impossible (1996–present): Tom Cruise’s movie series based on the 60’s TV show. Hanna (2011): Saoirse Ronan as a teenage assassin. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015): Guy Ritchie’s movie based on the 60’s TV show had decent reviews but failed to find an audience.  Its good fun id a little lightweight.  Inception (2010) More a high concept sci-fi heist movie than a spy movie, but there are a lot of elements reminiscent of classic Bond movies.  No Way Out (1987) A crime thriller set against a backdrop of espionage. Well worth watching if you haven’t already seen it.   

As infuriating as the delays to No Time To Die are, was the right thing to do, all I really want is to watch the movie in a cinema on the biggest screen I can find.

Read Full Post »

I have read a couple of things on twitter recently suggesting certain actors are too old, or too young to play Bond.  But how old is Bond? Ian Fleming made very few explicit references to Bond’s age.  The clearest came in the third novel Moonraker, published in 1955.  Bond states that he is “eight years shy” of mandatory retirement age for a 00, forty-five.  This would make him thirty-seven.  This however only tells us how old he was at the time of this novel as the passage of time between many of the books isn’t always clear.  From reading these I have always seen the character as being late 30’s early 40’s.  But what of the actors who have played the part?

Note: All ages are approximate based on when the film was shot. 

Sean Connery (1930 – 2020) – Connery was 31, in his first Bond movie Dr. No (1962),  He left the role after You Only Live Twice (1967)  age 36.  He returned for Diamonds Are Forever (1971)  age 40 (although he looked about 50!).  He then returned again for the unofficial Bond movie Never Say Never Again (1983) age 52, but didn’t look that much older than in his last official Bond movie.

George Lazenby (1939) – Appearing in just one Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), the youngest to date Lazenby was just 29 during production. 

Roger Moore (1927 – 2017) – Moore was actually older than Connery, although considered for Bond around 1967 when he was 40, he didn’t actually get the part until, Live and Let Die (1973) at the age of 46.  Having made seven Bond films he is often regarded as the longest serving Bond, but all the films came in just twelve years culminating in A View to a Kill (1985) by the time he was 57.

Timothy Dalton (1946) – Considered for the part multiple times including as early as 1968 when he was just 21.  He has stated, that he turned it down when he was around 25, as he felt he was too young for the part.  His name came up again around 79/80 when he was around 30.  He finally got the part:  The Living Daylights (1987) age 40.  His second and final Bond film came just two years later, Licence to Kill (1989) when he was 42.

Pierce Brosnan (1953) – Like the previous two Bond’s, Brosnan came close before getting the part.  He was offered the role in what became The Living Daylights before Dalton when he was around 33 at the time, but had to drop out due to a conflict with the TV Remington Steele.  He got the part just under a decade later, his first film GoldenEye (1995) age 42.  By the final film Die Another Day (2002), he was 49.

Daniel Craig (1968) – The longest serving (official) Bond based on years in the role, Craig’s first Bond was  Casino Royale (2006) age 37.  His final film was mainly shot last year but isn’t set for release until next year: No Time to Die (2021) he was 51 at the time of shooting.

So there you have it the youngest Bond was 29, and the oldest 57. What next, how old will the next James Bond be?  A lot depends on the story they want to tell.  If they go for another reboot, they could go as young as they want, pre 00 days possibly to his time as a Royal Naval Reserve, or when first recruited into the secret service.  I have long suggested bringing Timothy Dalton back to play an older retired Bond, this idea could now also work with Pierce Brosnan.  Or, they could do what they have done four previous times (five if you count Connery’s return), just drop a new actor into the part with saying a word, well except a joke in the cold open!

Back in September it was reported that major UK bookmakers had stopped taking bets on Tom Hardy, some even suggested he already had the part.  I don’t believe this to be true, and In some ways this could hamper his chances in the end as it will take a lot of air out of the big announcement when finally made.  Born in 1977, he is 43 now.  They are unlikely to start shooting the next film before an official announcement of the star his made, and they are not going to announce the new Bond until after the release of No Time to Die (hopefully, Covid allowing next year), as a result the next film could go into production in 2022 by which time Hardy  will be 45.  A year younger than Moore in Live and Let Die, so not the oldest Bond debut, but not far off.  This delay could present an interesting opportunity; it has already been confirmed Nomi, the character played by Loshana Lynch (just turned 33) is the new 007, promoted to the role after Bond quit/retired.  Assuming her character is any good and doesn’t get “fridged”, why not make film starring her.  As a 00 agent, it would be a Bond film in all but name that should please those calling for woman to play Bond, and appease those who say a woman cannot be Bond!  Most importantly it could begin pre-production now and script allowing, begin filming as soon as the lockdowns ease.       

Read Full Post »

In a recent article on the BBC website (quoting an interview in the Guardian) James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli stated her belief that James Bond will “probably” never be played by a woman. “Bond is male. He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male.” She went on to say “And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women.” The same article went on to quote an article where Halle Berry also said that Bond should remain male, she however suggested a new Bond type female character could be created.  While it may not be a popular, or politically correct opinion at the moment, I agree that Bond only works as a man.  We are however, at a point in time where Bond casting can be colour-blind, while Bond needs to remain British (and male), we are a multicultural society, despite the views of a vocal minority, you don’t have to be white to be British.  This leaves the door open, not just for Idris Elba, but for any other British actor regardless of race, I believe Henry Golding has joined the debate!The Next James Bond_

To change the sex of Bond would impact on all his interactions with other characters to such an extent it would distract from the story.  Regardless of what I, or anyone else thinks, Broccoli is the person most directly responsible for casting the part, so will ultimately decide the direction it takes. This isn’t to say characters are locked into being one sex.  The BBC article I mention, refers to the new series of Doctor Who, starting tomorrow with the first ever female Doctor.  Ghostbusters (2016), wasn’t terrible because of the idea, or the casting of woman, the cast were good, the issue was with the terrible script. Barbara Broccoli

Back to Halle Berry and her idea: There has previously been a suggestion that her character Jinx Johnson, from Die Another Day (2002) would get her own spiff-off movie or TV show.  Fortunately, this did not happen, she was a terrible character from a terrible film.  The only positive thing I have ever heard about the character, is that she looks good!  Truely representing all that is bad about Bond!  There are far better characters in the Bondverse to get their own movie, characters with a little agency, would be: Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) from Licence to Kill (1989), Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) from Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), or Camille (Olga Kurylenko) from Quantum of Solace (2008).  I’m not sure any Bond shared universe is a good idea, do we want a new Bond related film every year?  The current format of a film every few years, reboot every decade or so works. Female Bond Spin-offs

It would be better to start from a clean slate, developed a new completely different character in their own universe and having their own characteristics.  Fortunately, that is exactly what Barbara Broccoli is doing.  In a rare none Bond movie, EON Productions next movie will be The Rhythm Section adapted from the book of the same name by Mark Burnell.  The first of four books about the character Stephanie Patrick.  In the books Stephanie Patrick is a couple of turns short of rock bottom in a downward spiral following a traumatic event.  She is working as a prostitute to fund her drug problem until a revelation from a  journalist sends her life in a completely new direction.  The books are about identity and purpose, but work on a more surface level too, with great action.  There are four books in the series leaving at least three more stories to adapt, but with author Burnell onboard writing the script, there could be more than that.  Blake Lively is staring, and looks like a good choice.blake lively

And finally the elephant in the room, who will be the next Bond?  The name we can’t escape is Idris Elba, I think he would make a fantastic Bond, but fear his time may have passed.  At 46 he is about the right age now, he should be making his second film.  As it is, he would be 50/51 before he made his debut, giving him time to make three film before he is too old.  I am not going to list contendors or speculate on who will take the part, that’s for another day, but I am going to keep banding the drum for my Bond Movie idea, I know it will never happen but it doesn’t stop me modestly suggesting it’s a great idea: Bring Timothy Dalton back to play a long retired James Bond, forced back for one last mission (there are multiple story ideas to facilitate this).  As he gets older, the same idea could also work for Pierce Brosnan. Old Bond

Read Full Post »

The occasional drinks in movies series returns after a five year absence:

Kingsman: The Golden Circle opened today to love it or hate it reviews.  In short if you like the first movie you will like this one, if you hated or didn’t see the first movie, you probably won’t see this one.  For me, it lacks the originality and some of the fun of the original movie, but is still enjoyable.  But we aren’t here to review the movie, we are here to talk about drinks in movies.

Thanks to Casino Royale (2006) everyone knows how to make James Bond’s martini, the Vesper:

“three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.”bond with martini

But how does a Kingsman make a Martini? In the first film: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) Harry Hart aka Galahad (Colin Firth) tells Eggsy “Taron Egerton” that he will teach him how to make a martini properly.  We don’t see this lesson, but when Eggsy enters Valentine’s secret hiteout a waiter asks “Would sir care for a drink?”

Eggsy responds: “Martini. Gin, not vodka, obviously. Stirred for 10 seconds while glancing at an unopened bottle of vermouth. Thank you.kingsman martini

In the new film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Harry mixes a very dry gin martini for himself and Eggsy:

He adds ice to a mixer, puts a splash of vermouth and stirs.  Tips the vermouth away and adds Berry Bros. & Rudd No. 3 London Dry Gin.  He stirs it slowly for about a minute and serves in two martini glasses without a garnish. no 3 gin

If you want to try a Kingsman martini No. 3 Gin is widely available.  Personally I like a variation on the Vesper:

Three parts Bombay Original London Dry Gin; one part Stolichnaya vodka and a small dash of Noilly Prat dry vermouth.  Shake or stir until very cold.  Works with a slice of lemon peel or a couple of pimento olives as a garnish. 

Read Full Post »

Following my post about who might be the next Bond, here are a few people who could have been Bond.  I have stuck to British and Irish actors who have been in contention or mentioned since Timothy Dalton hung up his dinner jacket and Walther PPK in the late 80’s.

Ralph Fiennes: There was a time, around 1993 to 1996 (Schindler’s List – Strange Days – The English Patient) when Fiennes came from almost nowhere to become one of the best actors around.  In the last few years he has also added comedy to his repertoire.  He could have been the perfect Bond.  He was under consideration in both 94 and 04.  Did his appearance as John Steed in the terrible The Avengers 1998 end his chances?  He eventually became M, a character with enough hints at his back story to warrant his own movie.Ralph Fiennes james bond

Colin Firth: I have never considered Fiennes’ English Patient co star a contender for Bond, however, I was wrong so wrong.  Anyone who has seen him as Harry Hart in Kingsman will wonder what he he would have been like as Bond.Colin Firth James Bond

Idris Elba: Still in contention and would made a great Bond but as I mentioned in my last post, I think he is too old to get to get the chance now.Idris Elba james bond

Clive Owen: Made his name in the TV show Chancer (1990-91).  He was allegedly on the short (or possibly long) list when Pierce Brosnan got the part in the mid 90’s.  His name came up again in 1998 when he donned a dinner jacket for the film Croupier.  The part as The Driver in a series of BMW commercials cemented him as a fan favourite.  Now 51, he is probably too old, his last chance came and went when Daniel Craig was cast a decade ago.Clive Owen James Bond

Hugh Grant: His name came up a few times but he was never a serious contender.  Had he not become a star playing light comedy he could have been a good dramatic actor, the failure of Extreme Measures (1996) put an end to roles like that.  The Man From Uncle is a close as he is ever likely to get to Bond.Hugh Grant james bond

Liam Neeson: Reported to have turned the role down in 1994 because he wasn’t interested in making action movies.  He must have had a change of heart when he was offered Taken.Liam Neeson James Bond

 

 

Read Full Post »

I have mentioned in a previous article that Daniel Craig’s James Bond has the biggest story arc of all the incarnations of the character.  This is clear to see, but it can also be observed in his co-stars.  There is a convention in Bond movies of two “Bond Girls”.  The secondary of them often appears first in the movie but is ultimately a disposable character.  Her normal role is to provide some cheap thrills for both Bond and the audience, move the plot forward and is then disposed of, sometimes terminally.  A look at these characters tells us a lot about how Bonds character develops across Craig’s four films. 

WARNING PLOT SPOILERS FOR ALL FOUR MOVIES 

The first such character that Craig’s Bond encounters is Solange (Caterina Murino) in Casino Royale (2006).  The wife of Alex Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian), who is in the employ of the films main villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), Bond sleeps with her to get what he wants then leaves her to clearly knowing that his actions could have fatal consequences for her, ultimately they do! Bond’s cold detachment happens before his heart is thawed but ultimately broken by Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).Solange Caterina Murino

Quantum of Solace (2008) is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, but most importantly post Vesper.  Bond has allready met the movies primary character Camille (Olga Kurylenko) before the appearance of Agent Fields (her first name is revealed in the credits if you are interested) (Gemma Arterton).  After putting herself in the firing line of Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), she is abandoned by Bond who leaves with Camille to follow a lead.  Her death is clearly an homage Goldfinger.  Bond leaves a none field agent in danger without even thinking about it but does feel the need to avenge her, sending Green to a certain death when he may have been better questioning him.  This is a reckless broken Bond who is yet to find the humanity he must find before he can think about any idea of redemption.strawberry fields Gemma Arterton

Skyfall (2012), is a slightly different proposition, there is no primarily Bond Girl, the slot is instead filled by M (Judi Dench) and to a lesser extent Eve (Naomie Harris) who is later revealed as Moneypenny.  The secondary part is taken by Severine (Bérénice Marlohe).  Her death at the hands of Silva (Javier Bardem) is followed by a quip from Bond that has led to a lot of speculation.  Was this the cold pre Vesper Bond, or a tactic to distract Silva?  I have always believed the latter but understand other point of view.Severine Bérénice Marlohe

This finally brings us up to date with Spectre (2015).  Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci).  In the pre-credit sequence we see Bond killing Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona).  It is later revealed to be an unsanctioned hit, acting on orders from beyond the grave for the previous M (Judi Dench).  At the funeral he meets Lucia Sciarra who in true Bond fashion she falls into his arms (and into bed) before revelling vital information to further the investigation. After he has what he wants, instead of leaving her to die Bond calls in a favour from Felix Leiter of the CIA (who we haven’t seen since Quantum of Solace) to protect her.  The character is has a lot of similarities to Solange in Casino Royale, Bond’s more human and humane treatment is surely testament to the development of him as a person over the four movies.  Is Bond in love with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) at the end of the movie? was Bond capable of love in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall?Sciarra Monica Bellucci

On a side note, A lot was made of an older woman in the part, the first to be older than Bond (Monica Bellucci is four years older than Craig, Bérénice Marlohe eleven years younger, Gemma Arterton eighteen years younger and Caterina Murino nine years younger) this was followed by great disappointed that she isn’t given a lot to do.  While this is true, it is better to have an actress like Bellucci lending a certain class to the part than a typical twenty-something as used in other movies. For example, Bellucci was considered for the par of Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), a part that ultimately went to Teri Hatcher.  Both Hatcher and Bellucci are eleven years younger than then Bond, Pierce Brosnan. 

Read Full Post »

After the release of Skyfall I suggested a “Bond Week” eight seminal Bond films to watch over a week (one a day and two on Sunday), now I have a new Bond Week, with a difference or two.  The first Bond Week was an idea, a hypothetical list to immerse someone in the world of Bond movies.  The Second Bond Week consists of Daniel Craig’s four Bond movies, four movies that I watched over the past five days.  

Casino Royale (2006) was the film I hadn’t seen for the longest.  It confirmed my original thought, that it is the best of Craig’s Bond film.  Directed by Martin Campbell who also made GoldenEye (1995), Pierce Brosnan’s first and best outing as Bond.  The script is excellent with the perfect balance of action, grit and humour, it is everything Bond should be.  Weaving together three distinct stories including one that takes its plot outline from Flemings source novel. Made after The Bourne Identity (2002) but before its sequels the influence is clear but it is still 100% Bond.  Clocking in at 144 minutes the film never feels that long, surprisingly second billed Eva Green doesn’t appear until the hour and the film runs for a full 30 minutes after the death of the main villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).james bond and vesper lynd

Quantum of Solace (2008).  I once described Quantum of Solace  as the perfect Bond film, it isn’t the best Bond film but it is everything you want from a Bond film.  The film is the closest Craig’s Bond ever gets to  the character from Ian Fleming novels.  At 106 minutes, it is the shortest of all 24 Bond films, this again goes back to the 250 page novels.  But most importantly, it does the bravest thing a film can do, it doesn’t try and be bigger and better than its predecessor.james bond and Camille

Skyfall (2012).  If Quantum of Solace is the perfect Bond film and Casino Royale is the best, Skyfall is the biggest.  Introducing Q and Moneypenny to the rebooted series, having two M’s and delving into Bond’s childhood, there is a lot going on.  The 50th anniversary Bond movie, it is filled with nods to the earlier films, despite this it still works as a film in its own right, not just a Bond film.  I’m sure it is the first Bond film for many viewers, it works as well for them as it does for existing fans.   There is an interesting departure from the Bond formula.  Dispensing with a primarily  “Bond Girl” Bond spends the final act with M (Judi Dench).James Bond and M

SPECTRE (2015) Having watched the first three on DVD, I have been back to see SPECTRE at the cinema for a second time.  Skyfall director Sam Mendes returns for what feels like an end of an era.  Bringing all the plots of the previous films together and attributing them to SPECTRE feels a little clunky and forced.  Take this aside and the film is great.  M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are given more to do then their characters can normally expect.  This break from formula shows real confidence by Mendes.  If it is Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, it is a fitting swansong.James Bond and Madeleine Swann

In this era of bindgewatching television, four movies in four days isn’t a big task, will I take on all 24 Bond movies in a month?  possibly one day.  Did I learn anything from watching the films back to back? probably not but it does lend a prospective to them.  Timothy Dalton is the closest to the character described by Ian Fleming; Pierce Brosnan looks like the character Fleming described; Sean Connery had the best of Fleming’s stories, but Daniel Craig has the best Story arc and the most consistently good movies.  Is Craig the best Bond? possibly!

Read Full Post »

Two years ago I speculated on who would take over from Daniel Craig as James Bond. After championing him in 2010 I decided Idris Elba would be too old by the time the role became available.  I considered it to be between Michael Fassbinder, Henry Cavill, Tom Hiddleston or Nicholas Hoult if they wanted to try something new with a younger Bond.  I made the same mistake as everyone else.  Here are the current favourites for the part along with their odds according to an odds comparison website:

  • Damian Lewis 5/2
  • Tom Hardy 5/2
  • Idris Elba 9/2
  • Henry Cavill 11/2
  • David Oyelowo 12/1
  • Michael Fassbender 14/1damian lewis jaguar

So what’s the problem?  Take a look at the actors who have played Bond:

Daniel Craig’s most notable part before Bond was Layer Cake (2004), but he had already been announced as bond by the time it came out.  Prior to that he had starred in smaller films like Enduring Love (2004) and Sylvia (2003) or had supporting roles in larger films like Road to Perdition 2002 or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 2001.  For many he was best remembered for the 90’s TV show Our Friends in the North.Daniel Craig

Pierce Brosnan was best known for the TV show Remington Steele and a string on low budget features and TV movies.   To be more precise, he was best known for missing out on Bond in the 80’s because of his commitment to Remington Steele.Pierce Brosnan

Timothy Dalton had had supporting parts in film as varied as The Lion in Winter (1968) and Flash Gordon (1980) but was still best known for TV movies and stage work.james bond timothy dalton

Roger Moore had been kicking around for a about 30 years, mainly on television,  before getting the Bond gig. He played the title role in Ivanhoe in the late 50’s.  In the early 60’s he replaced James Garner in Maverick  playing Garner’s cousin  Beau Maverick ( a part turned down by Sean Connery).  His most famous role was in the late 60’s as The Saint.  Then in the 70’s The Persuaders! alongside Tony Curtis.Roger Moore

George Lazenby was a martial arts instructor and reported to have been the highest paid male model in Europe.  Prior to James Bond his only acting credit was an episode of  the TV Series General Hospital.George Lazenby

Sean Connery had worked in TV, film and theatre for about a decade before his first outing as Bond in Dr. No, as far as I can see, it was his first significant role in a large feature film.Sean Connery

Can you see the problem?  Most of the actors who are being suggested are a little too A list or top end B list.  I’m not suggesting the next Bond will be an unknown, but if EON stick to their formula he won’t be a huge star.  The one exception has more of a TV background and has recently moved into pole position: Damian Lewis.  Dominic Cooper who played Bond creator Ian Fleming in a TV miniseries has been gaining some traction.  In a recent interview on the BBC radio 4 Film Program Bond casting director Debbie McWilliams spoke about how she had championed Rupert Friend to play a younger Bond in Casino Royale.dominic cooper as ian fleming

Whatever happens we must remember that Daniel Craig is still in the role and is unlikely to say anything until after SPECTRE’s cinema run and video release.  SPECTRE left it open for him to walk away or return.  Although I think he has been a great Bond, I think his job is done and it is time to walk away.  I’m sure there are will be lots of twists and turns before things are decided.  Until then:

I still stand by an idea I had back in 2010.  The next film should be a one off stop gap with Timothy Dalton returning as an older retired Bond before a reboot two or three years later with a new young Bond.  It will never happen, but I still think it is a great idea.

Read Full Post »

After Daniel Craig wore a midnight blue dinner jacket in Skyfall it immediately became the must have item in gentlemen’s eveningwear.  It wasn’t the first time Bond had worn blue.  Ian Fleming described Bond as wearing a midnight blue dinner jacket.  Most actors to play Bond in the official Bond films have worn a blue dinner suit including Sean Connery in the opening scene of Dr.james bond blue evening suit

But one of the most iconic images of Connery as Bond came in Goldfinger where he wears a white dinner jacket.  The trailer for Spectre later this year shows Daniel Craig reprising the look.  Will it have the same effect as when he wore blue, will all the high street stores be stocking white this Christmas?James Bond white dinner jacket

Read Full Post »

As excitement mounts for Bond 24 I have to ask the question is Quantum of Solace the Perfect Bond film?

After The original announcement that Sam Mendes would not return for the Skyfall follow-up (it appears he will direct Bond 24 and 25, Daniel Craig’s final two films in the franchise) I suggested that it was an impossible film to follow and that the next film should go in a different direction.  Rather than going bigger and better the next film should be a 90 minute action film, a stopgap before the next big storyline. But the more I look at it the more I think this has already been done.  Quantum of Solace isn’t an action film, but it is none stop, one set piece neatly leads into another with little exposition  or explanation.  It is also the shortest of all the Bond films and over half an hour shorter than Daniel Craig’s other two films.Quantum of Solace

After some initial positive reviews (Empire magazine gave it a glowing four star review) it has become the whipping boy of the franchise, unfairly denigrated for lack of coherence and fun.  While it is true that it is darker than we have come to expect from Bond (I seem to remember calling it The Bond Ultimatum in homage to the Bourne films to which it owes a debt) this is a true reflection of the character from Ian Fleming’s source novels.  Having read all the Fleming (and some of the other) Bond novels I often forget that  many of the fans of the films have not read them and have a different image of the character.  While Fleming’s Bond looked a little like Pierce Brosnan, his character is closer to Daniel Craig and Timothy Dalton.  Fleming’s books aren’t John le Carré spy thrillers, they are pulp fiction in the vein of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler with the main character of a private detective substituted from for a spy.  This has been lost over time.Quantum bond and m

Quantum of Solace is slick and stylish but very European and rather than Hollywood.  Directed by Marc Forster and shot by Roberto Schaefer it is possibly the best looking Bond film ever made, Sam Mendes/Roger Deakins’ Skyfall is the only other real contender for that honour.  Despite popular opinion the plot is simple and coherent.  In Quantum, the film also introduces a new criminal organisation, a SMERSH or SPECTRE for the twenty-first century.  Bond needs a co-star to play off, here he has two “Bond Girls” Olga Kurylenko is perfectly cast as Camille but Gemma Arterton doesn’t really work as Agent Fields, not that she is given much to work with the character.  She was clearly ever going to be a secondary supporting character.QOS Plane

The only real valid criticism of the film is that it is the only Bond film that doesn’t work as a standalone film, It depends on Casino Royale to give context and to explain bonds motivation.  But then the whole Bond experience has been enhanced by cumulative  knowledge for years.  If you have avoided the film or didn’t like it first time around, now is the time to watch/re-watch it.

Quantum of Solace isn’t the best Bond film but it may well be a perfect Bond film! 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »