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Posts Tagged ‘Licence to Kill’

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

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I have written about possible Bond directors on a couple of occasions, but now Sam Mendes has ruled himself out of “Bond 24” it’s a good time to bring the subject up again. While there are lots of names doing the rounds, there is only one that stands out for me: Kathryn Bigelow. There is however a problem, it isn’t what you may think, it isn’t her sex, its her nationality! Born in San Carlos, California, she is too American. Yes that’s right, no director from the home of cinema has ever helmed a movie from cinemas most iconic franchise. The closest was Irvin Kershner, who made Never Say Never Again, but this was not part of the Bond, EON franchise.Kathryn Bigelow

If the producers can overcome fifty years of history and hire Bigelow they need to insist she brings Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal with her. They also need to dispense with the intelligence of Mendes, the grit of Marc Forster and the slick of Martin Campbell and produce a simple, dirty and possibly even dumb action movie. Having celebrated the 50 year milestone with gusto and splendour it would be impossible to top it, it would be foolish to try. I am not suggesting Bond becomes a purely action based franchise, but this is the time to make a one-off 90 minute genre movie.Bond

The plot possibilities are endless but a few thoughts on where they should go: stick with the minimal use gadgets, scale back the plot to something simple and personal, keep Moneypenny and M’s role to a minimum. Two possible outlines that would work in the spirit of the character and in line with some of the stories from Ian Flemings novels would involve Bond on his way home from a mission, shown in the obligatory pre credit sequence where he is either, A: distracted by something he sees happening and decides to investigate or B: is called to the aid of a friend who needs Bonds help. A setting for the film is obvious, America. Bond hasn’t spent any significant screen time “stateside” since Licence to Kill in 1989.James Bond Action Movie

I fear none of this will happen, as the filmmakers will fall into the usual trap of trying to make a bigger and bolder movie than what went before. Only time will tell, the one hope, they did listen to me once (in my dreams).

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A few months ago a friend who had never seen a James Bond movie asked which Bond films she should watch in preparation for Skyfall that she intended to see on its release. I immediately suggested a few of my favourites and advised her to steer clear of some of the ones I don’t like. I was going to post a list of the movies I recommended but I have kind of already covered that in my film by film guide. So here is a slightly different take on the idea. A week of Bond movies with a double feature on Sunday. Not only do the selected films represent some of the best Bond films, but they also show different elements of the character and the way he developed over time. They also feature all the actors to play Bond.

In preparation for this post I actually watched all the films last week*

Monday: From Russia with Love (1963)
Both character and actor were finding their feet in Dr. No. its also worth considering that Bond is presented as an established character at the top of his game, so viewers can step on with any one of the early movies without missing anything. That’s why I am skipping the first film and went to my all time favourite From Russia with Love. With a great story that is faithful to the book and a selection of memorable villains, it’s a great start to the week.

Tuesday: Goldfinger (1964)
While From Russia with Love established Connery in the role, Goldfinger cemented the character in mythology. Great, villain, great henchmen, two memorable Bond girls and the greatest icon of the franchise, the Aston Martin DB5. Again it is faithful to the book.

Wednesday: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Lets begin by saying this is a flawed classic. Once again it is faithful to the book, and it’s a great book but the problem lies with the casting, George Lazenby can‘t act and has no charisma, worst of all he has no chemistry with his co-star Diana Rigg. There is however enough good to forgive the problems.

Thursday: Live and Let Die (1973)
Roger Moore became Bond version 3 and did a pretty good job (sadly it was downhill from there). For a long time Bond has jumped on the coattails of other genres, this is the first overt version of this with a Blaxploitation inspired story. The last Bond film to take the majority of its story from an Ian Fleming novel.

Friday: Licence to Kill (1989)
From the last Bond film to take the majority of its story from an Ian Fleming novel to the first film that doesn’t even take its title from a novel. The film does take a lot of its ideas from unused parts of the original Fleming novels. Timothy Dalton’s Bond is the closest to the character from Fleming’s novels and the idea of a renegade Bond is ahead of his time.

Saturday: GoldenEye (1995)
After a hiatus caused by legal disputes Bond was back in the shape Pierce Brosnan. Playing off against a great villain and two opposing Bond girls (most notably a memorable Famke Janssen) Brosnan found a happy medium between Dalton and Moore. The action is good and the story is suitably updated. Sadly Brosnan didn’t manage to follow it up with each of his movies getting progressively worse.

Sunday: Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall (2012)
Bond has been reinvented a few times but Casino Royale was the first time it was totally rebooted. Utilising the perfect source material, Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, and Jason Bourne inspired action the film hit all the right notes. If Brosnan found the balance between Dalton and Moore, Daniel Craig found a similar position between Dalton and Connery. And then we come to Skyfall, you can read my full review HERE.

*having already seen it twice in two weeks I didn’t re-watch Skyfall.

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As we anticipate the release of Skyfall in less than two weeks I thought I would take a look at some of my older James Bond Movies for my ongoing Groovers Video Vault series. I’m not sure why I started with Licence to Kill but I am glad I did.

On route to his wedding Felix Leiter (David Hedison) gets word that south American drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) has left the safety of the (fictional central American state) Republic of Isthmus to retrieve his runaway girlfriend (Talisa Soto). Leiter along and his best man James Bond (Timothy Dalton) capture Sanchez before arriving fashionably late for the wedding. Sanchez promptly escapes and takes revenge on Leiter and his new bride. Refusing the order from M (Robert Brown) to fly to Istanbul on a mission, Bond escapes and recruits pilot and friend of Leiter, Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) to seek help him seek revenge.

Having directed Roger Moore’s last three Bond movies that were frankly rubbish, John Glen was a brave choice to take Bond in a new direction with a new leading man.  But, he did a good job with The Living Daylights, so bringing him back for a fifth and final time made a lot of sense.  Continuing from Timothy Dalton’s first outing as Bond in The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill dispenses with the increasingly silly character portrayed by Roger Moore and returns Bond closer to the character from Ian Fleming’s novels. This however is no step back in time to the in time to Sean Connery’s Bond this is a modern (for the late 80’s when it was made) Bond who finds himself not saving the world from preposterous criminal organisation but in the middle of Reagan’s “War on Drugs”. This was the obvious but ultimately the right choice for a cold war character in a new post cold war era. This Bond isn’t a mischievous charmer with a glint in his eye, he is a cold hard cynical killer, still carrying the emotional scars of the past.

The opening sequence features a mid air stunt where Bond hooks a cable around a the tail of a light aircraft attached to a Coast Guard helicopter. Clearly an inspiration for Bond fan Christopher Nolan who copied the scene on a larger scale for his opening scene to The Dark Knight Rises. Sanchez makes a public offer to anyone listening to anyone who springs him from custody, something that was copies in the recent version of the movie S.W.A.T. (2003). The real credit to the film isn’t just the influence it had on other films, but the impression that they got it right. Reviews from the time were mixed but Dalton and his Bond is beginning to receive the respect he deserves. Delays from a legal dispute ultimately cost Dalton his place as Bond, when the franchise did return with GoldenEye in 1995 he was replaced by Pierce Brosnan. While Goldeneye was a solid film, it did return to an extravagant world domination plot. This continued in the downward spiral that led to the invisible car, ice palace and Madonna of Die Another Day (2002). Were the movies just a product of there time or was the Dalton direction the one they should have continued on? We will never know but Daniel Craig’s Bond of Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) is closer to Dalton’s interoperation than any of his other predecessors suggesting to me that in the Dalton movies they got it right!

The first Bond film with an original title and not one taken from a Fleming story, it does have references to the books as well as the movies that went before it. David Hedison reprised his role of Felix Leiter having played the part in Roger Moore’s first Bond film Live and Let Die. The story of Leiter being fed to the sharks and the line “He disagreed with something that ate him” came from the Book of Live and Let Die but had not been used in the film. The character Milton Krest is lifted from the short story The Hildebrand Rarity as is his boat the Wavekrest, but a lot of his character attributes including physical abuse of his wife are transferred to the character Franz Sanchez. Although lacking the grandeur and extravagance of The Spy Who Loved Me or Thunderball the underwater scenes have become a classic and iconic part of Bond movies and are used sparingly but handled well here. Q (Desmond Llewelyn) pops up with his usual array of useful gadgets but not very far fetched by Bond standards. This really is a grounded Bond movie in comparison to what followed.

As has become the tradition since Golfinger there are two Bong Girls. The movie benefits from them being very different both in personality and look. Although more common now, Ex-Army pilot and CIA informant Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) was the first Bond girl since Major Anya Amasova aka Agent XXX (Barbara Bach) in The Spy Who Loved Me who could hold her own alongside Bond. The modernisation of the Bond girl is sometimes an awkward one, with her short hair she is often portrayed as a tomboy and as useful as she is to Bond she nags and begs him to let her come along rather than him seeing that he needs her. Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto) is more conventional, the villains woman who wants to get away and falls for Bond in the process. She is the catalyst for the story and was clearly chosen for her looks and not her acting ability. That leads onto the main villain/antagonist; Latin America drug lord Franz Sanchez played with cold perfection by Robert Davi. A perfect opponent for this more modern Bond, a ruthless businessman who is ultimately defeated by his by his own character flaws. His main henchman is played with relish by a young (22) Benicio Del Toro.

As mentioned on its release the movie received mixed reviews, Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times being one of the few major critics to give a positive review. I think what Ebert saw and others missed was that Licence to Kill is a solid movie as they were so fixated on how it compared to what went before it. As Pierce Brosnan took us back to the bad old days of Roger Moore Dalton’s Bond looked increasingly out of place but now as a companion pierce to the Daniel Craig movies it may just find its place in Bond history.

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 It was announced this week that Adele would sing the title track for the new James Bond movie Skyfall, but lets be honest who didn’t already know, it is officially the worst-kept secret in the history of secrets. Last month Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo from the BBC 5live radio movie show “Wittertainment” joined forces with BBC Philharmonic for a James Bond special where viewers were asked to vote for their favourite Bond themes.

The top three were:

  1. Live And Let Die from Live And Let Die, Paul McCartney and Wings
  2. Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me, Carly Simon
  3.  Goldfinger from Goldfinger, Shirley Bassey

Its hard to argue with the top three as classic Bond themes, but along with Tom Jones they are a little predicable and lets be honest the classics aren’t always as good as we remember them. Shirley Bassey’s Moonraker was a terrible song and Tom Jones’ Thunderball was lumbered with the most preposterous lyrics. The show like all discussions about classic Bond themes tnd to focus on the 60’s and 70’s but there are some more recent songs worth remembering.

A View To Kill sung by Duran Duran: The movie was terrible but the song was good and managed to be combine the elements you would expect from a Bond theme with 80’s pop.

The Living Daylights sung by A-Ha: just like Duran Duran, A-Ha nail the classic Bond combined with 80s pop.

Licence To Kill sung by Gladys Knight: Ditching the 80’s vibe and returning to a big ballad out of the Shirley Bassey school.

GoldenEye sung by Tina Turner: after a brief hiatus Bond needed a big return, and he got it thanks to Bond fans Bono and The Edge from U2 who wrote the song.

Tomorrow Never Dies sung by Sheryl Crow: I was unsure about this song when I first heard it, I thought it was trying to hard to be a Bond theme and moving away from what Crow does best, but it really has aged well and sits well with the classics.

The World Is Not Enough sung by Garbage: with soaring strings and a slow deliberate delivery from Shirley Manson that almost oozes out, the song has the Bombast that only a Bond theme can get away with.

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Talking about James Bond in last weeks Radio Times, film critic Barry Norman made the statement: Ask anybody: who is your favourite James bond? I guarantee the answer will be the first one they ever saw”. I’m not sure if I am more discerning or just awkward, but it isn’t true of me. To the best of my knowledge and memory the first Bond I saw was Roger Moore in Live and Let Die. Moore is far from my favourite Bond, but I have recently come to the conclusion that I don’t know who my favourite Bond is! For years I have always claimed it is Sean Connery with the caveat that Timothy Dalton is the closest to the character from Ian Fleming’s novels.

I hold with the popular opinion that George Lazenby was the worst Bond, and this is a great shame as On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of the best Bond films despite him. He is closely followed by Roger Moore whose comic version of Bond just doesn’t work for me. He did however make some decent movies, Live and Let Die and The Spy Who Loved Me were both really good films. The Man with the Golden Gun isn’t as good but does benefit from a fantastic performance from Christopher Lee as the villian Scaramanga.

So Back to who is my favourite Bond, Sean Connery certainly had the best stories with relatively faithful adaptations of Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball. You Only Live Twice is the point where the franchise started to get silly and even became a parody of itself, it was however still a good film in its own right. Connery’s only misstep was Diamonds Are Forever that was both silly and dull.

I have already said Timothy Dalton most closely resembles the character from the books in his portrayal, but there is another actor who probably looks most like Bond, Pierce Brosnan. This may be a bit of a stretch as there is little description of Bonds appearance beyond his short black hair and a resemblance to Hoagy Carmichael. Pierce Brosnan isn’t my favourite Bond either. He is perfect for the films he made and the time they were made, but sadly most of them weren’t actually very good. After a strong opening with GoldenEye the rest of his films got progressively worse culminating with the car crash of a movie, Die Another Day that was as bad as anything Moore did.

This leaves us with two contenders: Timothy Dalton who was hamstrung by only making two appearances both of them being good but not great films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill. Had he made more films he could well have been my favourite Bond but for reasons to long winded and complicated to go into today he didn’t. And finally Daniel Craig, Casino Royale is certainly one of my favourite Bond films and Quantum of Solace is underrated and will probably age well, but is he my favourite? Not yet but he may well be in future, with three more movies including Skyfall due out next month, he will certainly have a chance before handing his Aston Martin and Walther PPK to Michael Fassbender, my choice for the next James Bond.

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