Monday, November 27, 2006

Bond, James Bond

Alex just published a post about the new Bond flick at Stuck on the Palmetto. He isn't happy with the movie or the new actor that plays Ian Flemming's master spy. I have to disagree. I was about to write a rant in the comments over there but thought I'd do it here instead.

When I was about 14 or 15 I picked up the book Casino Royale. It's the first novel that Fleming wrote about James Bond. After that I have read every word Flemming wrote about Bond and even the Bond Books by John Gardner, who took up the mantle some years after Flemming died.

Interestingly Casino Royale was never made into a serious Bond movie until now. In 1967 a spoof by the same name starring Peter Sellers was released. I've never even bothered to see that movie.

Anyway, what I really liked about this latest Bond film, which is set in present day but is the beginning of the 007 story, is that it's faithful to the feeling one gets when one reads the books. The Bond movies, almost without exception, were campy. The books were not. This film is not. People die and it's not a cartoonish death. The villain is not cartoonish either. When Bond is tortured near the end of the film one can almost feel the pain in one's own [body part redacted].

I think Daniel Craig did an excellent job as the professional assassin that James Bond is supposed to be. Totally believable as the cool customer that drinks Martinis but doesn't really, have a preference for a shaker or stirrer.

In my opinion this is the best Bond film to date, followed by On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which was the one and only Bond film in which George Lazenby starred as Bond. I'm partial to that film for the same reason that I'm partial to Casino Royale, it stayed true to the character from Flemming's novels.

In my opinion the actors that played Bond should be ranked in this order:

1. Sean Connery. Obviously this is a no brainer, the original movie Bond and the guy you imagine when you read the books. Plus Connery is Scottish which Bond is supposed to be as well.

2. Daniel Craig. As a long-time Bond fan I was obviously impressed with his performance in the latest film of the series.

3. George Lazenby. It's not that he was so good in his one outing as Bond, but the screenplay for On Her Majesty's Secret Service was faithful to the book in this underrated movie. Lazenby is Australian which would be enough to put him at the bottom of the list of actors portraying a British spy except that the rest really suck. Bond marries Tracy, the daughter of a Corsican mobster in this movie, she is killed while they are on their honeymoon.

4. Pierce Brosnan. Elegant, English Irish, but not James Bond.

5. Roger Moore. I remember one comedian called Moore "Bond Light", claiming he had 1/3 less acting ability than regular Bond. Sounds about right. For Your Eyes Only opens with Bond visiting the grave of his wife, Tracy. Live and Let Die is probably the best Moore as Bond film. Great performance by Yaphet Koto: "Names is for tombstones, baby! Y'all take this honkey out and waste him!"

6.Timothy Dalton. English girly men don't make good spies. The movies during his era were forgetable.

One last note, I hate "M" as a woman. I don't understand why they have to go all politically correct on us. M was a man and always will be a man in my book, Admiral Sir Miles Messervy to be exact (bet you didn't know that was his real name). And how about Bond's CIA counterpart, Felix Leiter? He's been white and he's been black. How about some consistency?

Go see the movie, judge for yourself and let me know.


Charlie Bravo said...

Pierce Brosnan is actually Irish, but your Bond assessments are right on the mark.

Alex said...

I'm happy with the actor. danie Craig is great. I'm not happy wth the way the character is written.

Book Bond and movie Bond have long been two separate entities. With Casino Royale I could have been watching another Mission Impossible or Bourne movie. That's my beef.