By Matthew Turner (Erdington, Birmingham)
“BOND, JAMES BOND”. Sean Connery had the distinct pleasure of being the first actor to be able to say them 3 truly iconic words in his first adventure Doctor No., and, yes, he delivered them perfectly although it’s no secret as he once admitted he had to have a few brandies before the camera rolled. Connery is most peoples favorite Bond actor and it’s not hard to see why, as he was dark, brooding, and a real sex magnet for the ladies, we truly believed he could bed beautiful women in a blink of an eye and oh, boy, didn’t he do just that as well as shoot someone straight after making love. Apart from the odd few comical one liners he was a rather serious Bond also.
Then came the unknown Australian actor George Lazenby who was lucky enough to be in a good Bond movie, he just didn’t connect with audiences alike and due to money issues he bowed out after just one adventure. Roger Moore is a personal fave of mine but not number one as you will see soon, he had the funny bone of Bond and also the camp side, if you get my meaning, but he was a very very good Bond.
Timothy Dalton was OK but not my cup of tea, perhaps if his Bond movies were better they would have brought more of the best out of him, I’m going to skip Brosnan for just a moment and go straight to Daniel Craig, the controversial blonde haired choice to begin with, but he won the critics over with his portrayal of a brutal Bond who showed he had emotional feelings to, Casino Royale and Skyfall especially showcased Daniel Craig as a great and memorable Bond for decades to come and as Skyfall was the biggest British movie of all time it’s no mean feat to say Craig could well be the best Bond of them all… I said could be.
Pierce Brosnan just missed out on being Bond due to scheduling issues with a television show he starred in so Timothy Dalton was drafted in as a replacement. Pierce once described how he felt about that situation by saying “having to go past all the billboards and seeing Dalton’s pose on the front of the Bond movie poster for The Living Daylights was a horrible feeling.” Although he did wish Dalton all the best, Brosnan knew he had missed a major opportunity to hit the real big time. Dalton revisited the role in the dark and ultra-violent, by Bond standards, License to Kill, the new direction Bond was going didn’t sit right with viewers and it ultimately became quite a disliked entry. Fast forward six years and there was a general feeling Bond would not be returning any time soon, however, an announcement was soon made from Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, daughter and stepson respectively of the late great Chubby Broccoli, that Bond will definitely be returning and it was second time lucky for Mr. Brosnan as he was given the coveted role of reinventing Bond.
GoldenEye was a new era type of Bond as the Cold War was over so producers and the Broccili’s had to decide where Bond would fit in this new age of terrorism. They chose a story which to me symbolized the times we were in, computers, betrayal, rogue agents, and showed the modern London as well as other locations including Russia, it was a simple story to kick-start the franchise but was told beautifully, tactfully and generally with great optimism, Sean Bean who also very nearly could have been Bond was a great choice to play good guy turned villain. To this day he does still dies at the end of most movies he is in, but he died in style in this Bond feature, “for England, James “, “no, for me ” and off he fell from a very high satellite type dish.
Alan Cummings as traitor Boris also plays his part with real menace as sadistic employee turned super bad guy geek. Famke Janssen also is relishing her role as the beautiful but sexually fatal henchwoman, “no more foreplay” states Bond as she tries to wrap her long sensual but deadly legs around him and really you wouldn’t want any kind of play with her, I would say she has been the most deadly and dangerous female villain ever in a Bond movie. And so to the main man himself Brosnan, he was over the moon to finally land the part he had dreamt about and narrowly lost for so long, from the opening scene where he jumps from a very high bridge (obviously not Brosnan of course) but you could straight away just be attached to him, so as Brosnan fell so did we. “Sorry, I forgot to knock” were his very first opening words and he didn’t have to knock anywhere he went from now on because Bond was Brosnan and Brosnan was Bond. From the suave style of his hair, the glint in his hair and the composure of his stance Brosnan made you almost forget that there were any Bonds previously, that’s how good he was. Essentially British, essentially smooth, essentially believable once again that he could bed a beautiful woman which he does in the scene after the opening credits (an employee of MI5 sent to sort of spy on him none the less) to then shoot a man in cold blood, Brosnan was Bond !!!
So if thanks for reinventing Bond is needed I would give it to Pierce as he made him current and cool once again, yes the film makers did their bit by choosing him and making the film but without the right leading man the movie could have been disastrous and it would be hard to see that happening from now on anyway. Tomorrow Never Dies was not my favorite Bond, but Brosnan delivered again and it would be hard not to have liked the car he could control from his back seat (very cool). The story lacked any real fizz and the Bond girl wasn’t too bad but could have been better.
The World is Not Enough was a real crowd pleaser and a real leave your brain at home movie, as the action kept coming and Denise Richards provided the sex appeal this time as Dr. Christmas Jones, although Bond’s comment “I thought Christmas only comes once a year” was slightly inappropriate but Brosnan as always delivered the lines with wit and charm, which is why to me he is the number one Bond to beat. All his lines are delivered note perfect and he can switch super quickly from smooth charmer to silent assassin as one unlucky individual found out in Tomorrow Never Dies when his ex-lover gets killed “I am just doing my job ” begs the villain “so am I” replies Bond and then a bullet is shot in the guy’s face, deadly but charming.
Die Another Day wasn’t the franchises finest hour but neither was Moonraker so each Bond actor gets a free pass to at least one bad entry, and to be fair it was not the fault of Brosnan, it was the producers and writers who thought kite surfing and an invisible car would pass in this generation. NO IT WOULDN’T! So after a promising start, where we see Bond rough as old boots with big beard as well, it slowly descends in to nonsense, so much so I preferred Tomorrow Never Dies.
But overall Pierce Brosnan was the ultimate Bond and as Sean Connery was very many peoples first Bond, I would bet my house that Brosnan was a lot more peoples first Bond, he was mine generally speaking as I was quite young when The Living Daylights got made and GoldenEye was made when I was around 13-14 years old, although I had watched all the Bond movies when they were normally shown on ITV at 8pm at night back in the day, GoldenEye and Brosnan wet my appetite for what was to come for this character and series. Daniel Craig is doing a stand up job taking the reins and I wish him well as I believe he will do at least 2 more, and Ralph Fiennes as the new M is brilliant but Judi Dench gave her all and she will be sadly missed, as for her, like me, Brosnan was our first BOND…JAMES BOND!