“This is a fact: James Bond is always cool.”
I don’t think it’s my handwriting, but I really can’t be sure. It certainly sounds like me, because I could agree more. James Bond IS always cool.
We get the Bond we deserve – there was a brute and arrogant Connery for a sharp and harsh sixties who was a bit cooler than all his successors, but sometimes it got a little bit too cold. So it all kicked off again with a surprisingly timeless Lazenby interlude and a pointless return for Connery, before a more laid-back and slick Moore came on board for a groovy seventies.
Moore is a little uncool right now, but his kind of ironic wryness will come back into fashion again. The only problem with this approach to Bond is that it cannot help falling into silliness, so the series went back to exquisite hardness from Dalton in the eighties in two movies that were too serious for their own good, but funny in a straight-faced way. Brosnan brought it into the 21st century with some post ironic charm and steely determination, but also degenerated into boring silliness.
But just like Doctor Who, the current Bond is always my favourite, because it’s always new and interesting and fresh. I saw Casino Royale on the morning of the day I got married, and I was still buzzing from it while waiting for the ceremony to start. Quantum of Solace was another occasional step into murky confusion that the series has always made, but Daniel Craig is a powerful presence.
He had me at the bit in Casino Royale where he leaps from one tall crane to another over a perilous drop, a solid and brutal unstoppable force. And then there was the remarkable moment where he emerged from the surf and everybody in the cinema – men and women – went “Phwoar!” But it was the crash to credits at the very end of the film that meant Craig was the best Bond ever (until the next one, of course).
It’s in that split-second gap between Craig uttering the most iconic of iconic movies lines and the moment that the Bond theme, arguably the best in the business, finally kicks in.
There had been a conspicuous absence of the music during the film, but by the end Craig’s Bond has been put through the wringer, been betrayed, tortured and fucked over, and he still comes back in a fine-looking suit and a giant fuck-off gun, with a cool smirk and hard eyes..
By the end of the movie, he is James Bond, and the music and that line signify he deserves it.
And doesn't he just know it.
I don’t trust any man who didn’t go through a James Bond phase at some point.
I was completely addicted to the Bond novels and films when I was 13, and what 13-year-old wouldn’t be? It was easy enough to read all the books - On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was always my particular favourite – but it took a few years to get my grubby little hands on all of the films.
But man, I bought into the whole Bond thing hook, line and sinker. When you’re that age, and you’re desperately trying to figure out how the world works and what your place in it is, Bond can be like the Bad Uncle of Dispensing Advice.
He can teach you that any problem can be solved by slapping around the right person, that a prodigious alcohol intake is necessary for a sharpened focus, and that women are to be used and discarded.
But he also shows you how to walk into any room and instantly own it, how to maintain a decorum of honour in a world of shadowy betrayals, and how to look good in a suit. While he frequently goes rogue for plot machinations, he is also a fiercely loyal Briton, with a hyper-ego that shines so brightly it barely exists.
I’m still trying to walk like James Bond. Show me a man who doesn’t.
The thing I always like most about Bond, more than anything else, is the fact that he never ever gives up. He can be brutal, and can be a common bully to get what he wants, but he won’t ever give up.
It’s always there, in all the books and all the movies. It’s there even in the most unflattering portrayals, including Moore and O’Neill’s version in the League of Extraordinary Genetlemen, where Bond is a brutish lout whose gadgets blow up in his face, but he keeps on coming. Or in Kim Newman’s excellent Judgment of Tears (aka Dracula Cha-cha-cha), where a certain Hamish Bond is another loathsome braggart who doesn’t stop, and also accomplishes the admirable feat of physically transforming from a Connery bond into a Moore bond.
Bond never gives up, never gives in. His willpower is unbreakable, and he will do whatever it takes to fufill his mission. That’s why every time a new Bond film comes out, I get the chill. There is a very good chance it is going to be awful, but there will always be a spectacular piece of ridiculousness, and that’s always worth a look.
James Bond is always cool.