JAMES BOND IS BACK. AGAIN…
..And so, it seems, is the never ending debate about his switching gender. Hence my over-stretched attempt at a pun headline that does not even make sense. Anyway, in the world of 007, this week..
BOND. JANE BOND?
Pierce Brosnan was quoted as saying he’s ok with a girl playing Bond. Well, not quite. More that the guys had 40 plus years of a monopoly on the part so it’s time to give it to a lady. Nice, and it’s just Pierce being typically Pierce: diplomatic, polished, on message and in vogue. Just like his Bond era, in fact. Yes, it was not just good but GREAT at the time and may even become fashionable in some revisionist manner once Daniel Craig moves on. But, much like the third way politics of that era..it was of THAT 90s-00s (!) time and is not of the ‘now’, though may well be of the future?
Glossy, fun,. optimistic yet still ruthless and very much about determined mission fulfilment with minimal accountability (once again , much like the politics of the day, in retrospect?!). THAT is the Pierce Brosnan 007.
Neither as deadly dour professional yet poetic and valiant as Timothy Dalton’s take; nor as comedic yet smooth as Roger Moore..not as brutal as Connery or sporting as George..but a curious mixture of them all and thereby, in his time, the very best Bond?
The myth about Pierce’s Bond is that is was somehow a softer iteration of the hero. Nonsense. His movies have a higher body count than the Rambo series!
Myth #2 is that Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig are somehow, ‘harder’ edged takes on the character. Total bollox. They are perhaps better at playing world weary or conflicted and their vocal /facial range is wider. Yet Pierce is perfectly adept at the action and flawlessly ruthless in his kills.
And if you doubt that in his Bond films, look at other works, like 4th Protocol or Tailor of Panama: the man can ‘do’ badass roles. It’s just that the Brosnan vision of that comes with a smooth, male model aesthetic template.
When he is mean, lean, hungry, raw and deadly: you know it.
It’s why I have an alternative timeline, whereby Pierce plays Bond in Living Daylights and Licence to Kill (rugged emotion) and Timothy gets GoldenEye and The World is Not Enough (mature, deep).
Where am I going with this? What’s my point? Well, frankly, Pierce: your Bond is JUST as masculine a daydream as ANY other!
You are not, much as you may wish to be, some Mr sensitive progressive 007. You were RIGHT on the tide of laddism and Cool Britannia and nostalgia for the no consequence FUN that defined the Bond cocktail from day one. Your movies as good as call it out, cleverly using a meta device to work in the moral /social objections to the ethical hedonism. ‘You’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur’ etc.
And you’d probably have remained as the character (albeit perhaps topped off with a Henry Cavill shaped prequel teaser?) for Casino Royale, but for the post Bourne Supremacy boom in gritty reboots.
Plus..had you not been so open about the difficulties the Producers were having with taking the franchise forward..go on..that was a misfire and you know it?! You have been VERY honest about that, in retrospect yet even now, you cannot help but say ‘The Broccolis would not’..etc (implication being: that what, you would make Bond a woman? You WOULD take creative risks?!). Don’t be silly, Pierce!
Mr Brosnan: you are a lovely, decent, hard working and talented artist /commercial broker in the biz. And you adopted causes you devoted yourself to, years before people jumped on SJW/WOKE/Virtue signal bandwagons.
You defined the environmental movement and took a stand, bravely. So there is no need to please everyone by joining the ‘Jane Bond’ crowd.
007’s ethnicity and even sexuality could change: ok. But his nationality and gender: Bond is a British BLOKE. End of.
When it’s time to take risks as big as changing Bond’s sex /gender? Then it’s time to call it a day rather than ‘die another’. Speaking of which..Those TITLES..
NO TIME TO DIE
I hated this title. I felt it lacked originality, punch or any consistency with the Daniel Craig era. On the other hand, at least BOND 25 now HAS a title. FINALLY! And, if you think about it? It does fit. Daniel’s last 007 stand; A sin /habit? ‘I cannot quit just yet’ ..’I won’t give up now’..that sort of thing.
A vibe also of something THRILLING, possibly up against a ticking clock (fits the rumours about a genetic warfare time bomb at the plot’s centre and no that is NOT a spoiler).
Much as I loved SPECTRE.. thriller..it was not..because the stakes were zero and the threat was low.
But THIS? And ESPECIALLY against a backdrop of rumours that Bond (in the Craig incarnation, anyway) may finally..actually..um..DIE?! Well we will be back on the edge of our seats. It WORKS!
Is it derivative? Yep. Predictable: sure! Moronic, even, playing to the Universal Pictures Fast/Furious demographic? Maybe.
But they’d basically run out of Ian Fleming’s titles, even by mining the short stories. They dare not touch the extended universe continuation author stuff (much as I LOVE No Deals, Mr Bond or Scorpius). And, campy fun though it might very well be for the fans, the days of naming the movie after the lead baddie are..gone.
Hence, the mooted SHATTERHAND will NOT be joining the ranks of DR NO and GOLDFINGER, even if either or both of those characters resurface in the next film.
Many past titles have themselves been pulpy variations on old sayings, anyway.There’s no real science to it but neither is it a case of inane commercialism or laziness.
Live and Let Die: great though that is, gets called out, explicitly, in the source novel as a spin on ‘live and let live’.
The non canonical Never Say Never Again was a clever nod to Sir Sean Connery (happy birthday, belatedly btw and so pleased you survived the hurricane: an 89 year old adventurer!). He had said ‘never again’ to Bond so his beloved artist wife, Micheline Roquebrune, said ”never say never again’: that’s the title!’.
Sir Roger Moore (RIP) even wanted a cameo in the rival Bond film where he would turn up at the end and shout ‘Yes! NEVER says NEVER again..EVER, Sean!’.
Typical Rog’. Gotta love him.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is unbeatable, not just as a movie, but also as title.
Powerful punchy, heraldic, heroic. And relevant yet adaptable to just about any plot-line; a true survivor. Just like its leading man, George Lazenby (happy 80th: you can still take most younger fellas in a fight: best Bond in physical combat). I would not mess with him, anyway.
Licence to Kill came about because Licence Revoked was deemed confusing in marketing terms. To be fair, they were right, especially given how Licence to Drive was a film out near the time and Licence Renewed was a recent continuation novel from John Gardner.
Ironically enough, it’s the one film whereby James Bond does NOT have immunity to murder at will on government orders. My suggested Under the Queen’s Peace, perhaps more apt? The movie nonetheless reminds us that our hero IS a killer; it is not simply what he does but WHO he IS. Kinda like the christology vs docetology/soteriology debate in Theology?
And whilst Bond lacks official permission for the vendetta he pursues, there is a sense of his still managing to do the ‘right’ thing and bring down a worldwide menace / emergent terror and drug threat. In that sense, never was a title better suited to a Bond film?
The much maligned titles of Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day both have rationale, too. ‘Tomorrow’ is the name of the enemy newspaper empire that 007 must take down. It was supposed to be ‘never lies’ rather than ‘dies’ but a typo in the memo for first meeting for the movie caught the executives’ attention at MGM and they loved it.
‘Lies’ makes more sense and sounds more lyrical, original, clever. A satirical nod to the genuinely pernicious, pervasive power base of our tabloid masters, telling us what to think, day in, day out, with names such as ‘sun’ and ‘mirror’ saying it all.
‘Tease and tantalise with every line, til you are mine‘ as the Surrender song says, in the closing credits. But ‘dies’ kinda works, too: the idea of James Bond as the never-ending guardian of the promise that the sun will rise, come what may, despite whichever villainy darkens the skies the night beforehand.
He will go on to fight ‘another day’ or rather to ‘die’, so that he can return to war: thereby explaining THAT title, too.
It’s an echo of A.E. Housman: “But since the man that runs away Lives to DIE ANOTHER DAY; And cowards’ funerals, when they come Are not wept so well at home. Therefore, though the best is bad, Stand and do the best my lad; Stand and fight and see your slain, And take the bullet in your brain.”
I cannot think of a better fit for Bond!
Shame if anything that they did not make MORE of the motif, in title songs and the like, rather than the (albeit catchy: go on you know it is!) dance beat from MADONNA? It’s reflective yet brutal. Just like Fleming’s Bond and in a different key but similar in appetite and in distinctive style, that of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse?
John Thaw: him again! Oh and I maintain that Daniel Craig would be a great Morse. We settle instead for Tom Hiddleston as KAVANAGH QC 😉
My point is that NO TIME TO DIE, despite my initial reservation, is in fact a GREAT title for a Bond film.
Commercially marketable, easily translated, reflective of Fleming yet not from Fleming’s canon (see also: GoldenEye) and hinting at plot ?story/tone, without actually giving the game away (see also: SKYFALL, THE World is not Enough). A familiar surprise. Just as Bond should be!
So stop trying to film the car chases and upload footage from your phones (MGM are right to tell you to stop, imho) and just WAIT!
Trailer soon, no doubt and you can always go and watch the original No Time to Die : not a Bond film, though it was produced by the late, great Bond Producer Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli. One cannot help but feel he is looking down and so very proud of his beloved, beautiful, brilliant Producer daughter, Barbara Broccoli, as she leads 007 towards his 25th screen adventure.
NO TIME TO DIE is released in April 2020. More news when we have it.
Pierce Brosnan’s next projects are RUMOURED to include a role as Alfred to Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne /Batman in Matt Reeves‘ film: THE BATMAN.
Two Pennyworths..together? 😉
‘There’s no point LIVING if you can’t Feel ALIVE’.
‘THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T BE LIVING HERE!’
James Murphy will Return. He respects ALL James Bonds. Even the future ones..coz they might be GIRLS 🙂
For some of last year’s quality Politflix Podcast Chat about GOLDENEYE, with James Murphy and Bond..DAVE Bond: listen HERE