As far as James Bond films go, I’ve seen them all. ITV had a phase of showing them on Wednesday nights, and I was allowed to stay up on a school night to watch them with my dad. I also have distinct memories of watching them on the telly on rainy weekends while my mum completed a jigsaw puzzle on the living room floor. For quite a long time, it was hard to find a week when ITV wasn’t showing a Bond film at some time or another.
Having seen all the films, I have a very distinct idea of what makes a good Bond. For me (and most of the planet, it seems), James Bond meant Sean Connery or Roger Moore, and I obviously agreed with the universal acknowledgement that Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby were crap. The Pierce Brosnan films didn’t really cut it with me, despite the fact that they included good old Judi Dench, because they all seemed a bit too shiny and new, and I still think the casting of John Cleese as Q after the sad death of Desmond Llewellyn was, quite frankly, completely ridiculous. But having said that, I think it’s fair to say that all James Bond films have a habit of merging into one long mishmash of fight scenes and scantily clad women. It’s incredibly hard, for me at least, to separate out individual Bond films in my head, let alone work out who was 007 in each. I decided long ago that Live and Let Die was my favourite, and I’m fairly sure that was a Roger Moore Bond, but I couldn’t say for definite. Basically, they’re all incredibly samey and generally tell the same story with a few changes in name and location: the appearance of some massive terrorist threat means James Bond has to single handedly save the world with a few flash gadgets and posh cars (which he’ll invariably mangle), at some point he’ll get into a tricky situation and it’ll look like he might not make it, but then he’ll turn on a magnet in his watch or something and take out every bad guy in sight, despite being outnumbered by at least seven to one while probably being unarmed because he dropped his weapon and has to make do with a cigar and aerosol can, but the day will eventually be saved while all around him things blow up and women lose their clothes. Maybe I should write the next one myself.
So when a load of new Bond films were announced, with Daniel Craig as the lead, I was very put off by the thought. For me, Daniel Craig is not James Bond, and I had been rooting for them to choose Clive Owen instead, who I thought would be perfect. (I can also safely say that I have never found Daniel Craig attractive and I really don’t understand the fuss over that shot of him in the little blue swimming trunks, but then I’ve never really understood why Bond girls would want to instantly rip off their dresses for any Bond – Sean Connery wore a wig, for goodness sake!) Aside from aesthetics, all of the Ian Fleming books have already been made into films, and so the new offerings (with the exception of Casino Royale) were verging away from Fleming territory and Bond canon, and this made me apprehensive. Rightly so, judging by the first two films. I didn’t really enjoy Casino Royale because I was still in the midst of being very-anti-Daniel-Craig-as-James-Bond and I also thought it dragged on for far too long, and I found Quantum of Solace so forgettable that for quite a long time I couldn’t work out whether I had actually seen it or not.
But I was pleasantly surprised by Skyfall, I found it a lot more enjoyable than I thought I would and I’ve warmed to Daniel Craig a lot more (although he needn’t look so sulky and brooding all the time, he could definitely do with a spot of Roger Moore’s twinkle!) There were a good amount of stunts and explosions to keep me interested, although it was a bit lacking on the gadgetry front, and a decent plot which I could easily follow. (I definitely prefer an uncomplicated Bond film). Javier Bardem was delightfully creepy as the villain, but at the same time you can’t help but feel that he’s been wronged and needs a little sympathy. Judi Dench is always wonderful, but Ben Whishaw was a real highlight for me too, he was just the right mix of geeky and adorable (with lovely, fluffy hair). I know it’s a bit sad, but I always look forward to the titles of Bond films, and I loved all the little clues that were revealed later in the film, while Adele’s singing really sounded like a classic Carly Simon/Shirley Bassey type Bond theme. All in all, I actually really enjoyed it (which did surprise me a bit), and I appreciated more of a story rather than Bond trying to get into someone’s knickers in every other scene. I must admit though, I did miss an exploding pen or two. Bring back the gadgets!