I’ve always loved James Bond. The movies were a perfect form of escapism for my younger, less cynical self. Each was a window into another world – not only one of glamour and intrigue, but they also served as a glimpse into a past I didn’t know. As a child, they were the oldest films I watched, so I just thought the 60s and 70s were like that. All fast cars, endless martinis and effortless cool. The women were glamorous and often feisty, but they were also skilled divers, spies, pilots and diamond smugglers. No matter how ingenious the bad guy’s plot was, it could always be foiled by one guy in a tuxedo with a couple of gadgets. The fashion, the one-liners and the exotic locations meant that there was something in every single Bond movie for me to enjoy*, plus I never had to concentrate too hard on the plot which made them essential Bank Holiday viewing.
At some point between Dalton and Brosnan, teenage me became so desperate for information on the next Bond movie that I joined The James Bond International Fan Club. With no internet, how else was I going to find out who’d been cast and get a peek at some on-set photos from Goldeneye? I had every one of the films on VHS, and then on DVD. Yes, I was somewhat obsessed! Bond was my must-see movie every time. OK, times have changed, but 007 is still my go-to guy for cinematic escapism. Despite the changing world of cinema and the proliferation of on-set images and gossip, 007 has still retained some intrigue and I’m not quite sure how he does it. I never really wanted to be a Bond girl. I wanted to be Bond.
I’m sure it’s not just me who thinks this, but there’s always something to love about Bond. Not necessarily 007 as a character – although Casino Royale certainly left him more human and also more dangerous than ever before – but more Bond as a franchise. From the splendidly stern Judi Dench as M and the delightful casting of Ben Whishaw as Q, right down to the way Daniel Craig adjusts his cuff links after a death-defying leap in the Skyfall trailer, there are still many bits about this series that feel so right despite the 50 years that have passed since it first hit our screens. Instead of the sexual tension between Bond and Moneypenny, we now have the power games between 007 and M which bring us classic lines such as, “I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. 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.” Bond simply replies with, “Point taken.”
The 007 franchise knows it’s not Bourne (every hotel in the world seems to know the man’s name, FFS!), but that’s precisely why it still works. Sometimes you just need a guy in a tux effectively saying “I know it’s not very British to shoot the crap out of everything, but… what the hell!” I don’t know about you, but I really can’t wait to see Skyfall on a IMAX screen.
*Apart from Moonraker, which was bloody awful!