Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Of human Bondage

I have been pondering the new James Bond. I mean, I enjoyed Casino Royale, but somehow it lacked the distinctive feel of a Bond film. Daniel Craig is well suited to the craggy action hero role, but can you imagine him stripping off his diving suit to reveal an immaculate dinner jacket and black tie? I think not. He's certainly better than Roger Moore, who I cannot imagine doing any stunt riskier than shaking his vodka martini. He's better than the overly actorish Timothy Dalton. But he isn't 100 proof Bond like Pierce Brosnan.

Let's go back to the founding template. It's pretty well universally agreed that Sean Connery is the
echt 007. He had the easy glide of the leopard, an aura of menace laced with charm, a whiff of cruelty suggesting he'd as soon kill you as kiss you. Pierce Brosnan didn't have that exactly. But he was suave and indomitable. He occupied the persona, even if he wasn't the Scottish player.

Bond's background was Naval Intelligence, public school, all that. Craig is the first Bond to suggest Secondary Modern and School of Hard Knocks. Now, I know we're supposed to be getting a Bond for today, a grittier, icecold and efficient hitman. But there are a lot of those about already. As a Bond fan, I enjoy seeing Pierce Brosnan adjust his tie in the side mirror as he escapes from his sinking car, the groan-worthy one-liners, the ridiculous villains, the weird weaponry and gobsmacking gadgets. Le Chiffre weeps blood (very discreetly) from one eye? Where's the fun in that?

I don't go to Bond movies to see an action hero. I go for the joy of Bondness. The conventions and rituals offer us a warm sense of participation. That said, John Cleese was a caricature of Q. Perhaps the producers felt there was only one Desmond Llewellyn. I miss the introduction of the latest cutting-edge killing technology.

SPOILER: How could anyone be so soul-dead as to destroy an Aston-Martin Vanquish? That kind of sums up the emptiness at the heart of the film.

Now, there is much to praise about this film: super repartee between Bond and Vesper Lynd, and a terrific performance by Judi Dench as M; a wonderful opening sequence, one of the best in the history of the franchise; an amazing battle in a building collapsing into the Grand Canal; the high-tension poker game (although there is some confusing cutting to and away from the card-play scenes).

Martin Campbell is one of my favourite action directors, and he has Bond form. He is at the top of his game here. There were sly digs at and comments on the Bonds of yesteryear, notably Craig doing Ursula Andress emerging from the sea. I buy
Casino Royale as a great, slightly cerebral action movie. I just don't bond with it.

2 Comments:

Blogger First Nations said...

i'm here. thank you!

5:05 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

Back at ya! It's been a while between blogs. Long story.

7:25 PM  

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