Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bond, James Bond

James Bond

Now before you chide me, I haven't forgotten about the cowboy poll -it's just that I've been overtaken by life recently. So I promise to publish the results soon. However as we've been on the topic of spys and spying recently I thought I'd continue the leitmotif today. As a distraction from grant writing (now done, Praise the Lord!) I took myself off to see Casino Royale at the weekend. I have to admit to leaving the cinema ("movie theatre" in American) slightly breathless after two hours of non-stop action and I offer the following comments:

Daniel Craig is a great Bond; possibly the best since Sir Sean. And I mean Connery in the first two flicks, Dr No and From Russia with Love in which he was very phyiscal and quite ruthless: Craig did well to play a similar character. I note that Timothy Dalton (an excellent actor and an underrated Bond) tried hard to do something similar but was given rubbish scripts and as a result came across as a bit wooden.

Lots of the old stuff is gone. Mercifully improbable stunts and ridiculous gadgets have been deleted (why did it take so long for the producers to get rid of this nonsense?). Notable missing items are:

-the Aston Martin DB5 (although there is a hat tip to it)

-the Walther PPK (I guess too old fashioned and puny -now the preferred pistol seems to be a modern Walther, always carried with a quite phallic silencer)

-Ms Moneypenny (but again there is hat tip but you have to be awake to catch it)

-"Q" nobody could really step into the shoes of the late, great Desmond Llewellyn (and please don't even mention John Cleese) and in any case the gadget-gimmick stuff became seriously silly after the autogyro in You Only Live Twice

-Martinis, shaken not stirred. Bond does drink in the film. Indeed he seems to drink quite heavily but when asked if he prefers his Martini shaken or stirred he snaps "do I look like I give a damn?"

In fact with so few references to the past you could be forgiven for thinking that the movie was just a plain old action-thriller but then in the final scene Daniel Craig reinvents the Bond character as he introduces himself to the arch villain as "Bond, James Bond" -then as the credits play the old familiar Monty Norman theme tune starts up for the first time. Brilliant!

Now don't get me wrong. There are still big stunts, luscious ladies and some extraordinary violence. But somehow it all appears credible.

Overall, Daniel Craig and the producers have more than reversed the rot that started to in creep into the films after Goldfinger. Heaven knows, I never thought the franchise would be taken seriously after Roger Moore (bloody hell, what did do to get his knighthood -if I had my way I'd have him thrown in the Tower of London for his efforts).

Now I can't wait to see Bond #22...

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