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“Vodka martini, plenty of ice… if you can spare it.” The James Bond blogs: ‘Die Another Day’ (2002)

13 Jun

During the pre-credits sequence of Die Another Day, I realised just how pleased I was to be seeing Pierce Brosnan in the role for a fourth time. He had proved himself a worthy addition to the ranks of Bond actors before him, and there had been none of the perceived failure (from certain quarters) associated with some earlier Bonds (Lazenby especially). Bond can be a fairly ridiculous character in some of the films, but Brosnan had never been anything but convincing, even if  his version of the character was far more removed from Fleming’s original creation than say Dalton or Connery’s interpretations. Perhaps his popularity lies in the ability to combine a bit of that grittiness with some of the light hearted quality of Roger Moore. Die Another Day is the 20th outing in the official series. Although Bond now transcends time and place (as you are not expected to consider this to be a spy who has been on Her Majesty’s secret service since the 1950s and ’60s), Die Another Day goes to some great lengths to celebrate the series’ past, as evidenced by a scene in Q’s workshop where various gadgets from earlier films are in evidence, including the jet pack from Thunderball. The female lead, Halle Berry, also emerges from the sea in homage to Ursula Andress in Dr. No, which is subtle enough to be welcome. All these nods to the past threaten to interfere with the rest of the film but never do, I’m glad to say. The problem with Die Another Day IS the rest of the film. Continue reading

“…never let them see you bleed….and always have an escape plan”, The James Bond blogs: ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999)

3 Feb

I thought Goldeneye was a good return for Bond after six years absence. I’ve also always felt Tomorrow never dies was a worthy follow up, but not exceptional. For Brosnan’s third outing as Bond, though, we’re in a different league. The World is not enough is a very good entry, and gives Pierce Brosnan an epic adventure in the spirit of Thunderball and You only live twice. Here Brosnan also feels more like the Bond we knew and loved all those years ago. His seduction of his female Doctor while on sabbatical, echoes scenes of Connery at the health farm in Thunderball, and the ski chases are easily some of the best since The Spy who Loved Me. But this never feels like a deliberate ‘greatest hits’ package, unlike some earlier entries, and survives on its own merit as an exhilarating and comic action adventure.
The film has a great title for starters, and like Goldeneye takes its inspiration from a source linked to Bond’s creator Ian Fleming. Whereas Goldeneye was the name of Fleming’s Jamaican hideaway, The World is not enough was Bond’s family motto, as featured in his 1963 novel On Her Majesty’s secret service (and on screen in Peter Hunt’s 1969 film adaptation). Continue reading

“A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you”, The James Bond Blogs: ‘Goldeneye’ (1995)

9 Oct

After legal wrangles that could have cost ‘Cubby’ Broccoli the continuation of the Bond film series, Bond did eventually return in 1995- after a six-year hiatus. Timothy Dalton stepped down from the role some time before, which was quite a loss for some fans that had warmed to his more Fleming friendly interpretation. Enter Pierce Brosnan, who had almost been Bond some years before until his contract for TV series Remington Steele got in the way. Finally he had his chance to make the role his own.

Brosnan's turn to shoot towards the gunbarrel

Goldeneye (named after Ian Fleming’s Jamaican retreat) is another original story; with enough nods to Bond’s creator to make it feel like a genuine Fleming based 007. Where Goldeneye is radically different to previous films is that is transplants James Bond into the (then) modern world in a way which had never been done before. All aspects of the cold war exist only in past tense, as this had to be a Bond of the new ‘Glasnost’ age. In many ways it feels like a brand new series, a luxury granted by the passing of so many years since Dalton’s second outing. The style has been refined and updated. How much you like this depends on how much you believe the Bond series has a place as a current franchise. ‘M’ is now a woman, played rather marvellously by Dame Judi Dench, and there is a new charming Moneypenny in Samantha Bond (the best name for the job perhaps). Desmond Llewelyn, looking far more aged, is a nice link to the ‘classic’ Bonds, as he reprises his role of gadget master ‘Q’. There is no Felix Leiter, however, despite the film having a role that could well have been Felix. Even if the films don’t directly carry on from each other, Felix was still alive and well (just) at the end of Licence to kill. Continue reading