Cinematic secret spies and government agents are everywhere these days. You can’t swing your popcorn at your local multiplex without hitting a Jason Bourne (Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity), an Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible), a Harry Tasker (Arnie in True Lies), a Harry Hart (Colin Firth in Kingsman), an Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie in Salt), or any of the other gaggle of spies, many of whom for some reason seem to have either lost their memories, or they’ve gone rogue.
The best spy, as we all know, is good old British James Bond. Monday sees the release of the latest Bond movie, Spectre, which I assume is short for Spectre Gadget. Anyways, quickly moving on…
Over the years Bond has been portrayed, either on screen or on radio, by the likes of: George Baker, Christopher Cazenove, Bob Holness (yes, the Blockbusters “Can I have a ‘P’ please Bob?” guy), Michael Jayston, Barry Nelson, Toby Stephens, Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and most recently by Daniel Craig.
Cinematic Bond as we know him began life with Sean Connery who, according to Kim Nicolini, “…set the standard for James Bond when he hit the screen in 1962 with his insatiable appetite for women, fast cars, cocktails and high tech gizmos. But Connery’s Bond was a different character for a different era. Connery’s Bond came from a time where pure escapism still had room to exist. He was a Bond born of the Cocktail Generation that lived and breathed economic denial. Connery’s Bond was brought to life during the advent of globalization. It was a world where Commies were the bad guys, and Capitalism was Savior of all mankind. Bond burst onto the screen at a time when the illusion of infinite economic prosperity seemed possible. We were sending astronauts into space and the world could watch on satellite television. The Cocktail Generation was living high, confident that Western Civilization was conquering the earth and the universe.”
Over fifty years later, however, and this heavy description of Bond is no longer relevant. Times have changed pretty much everything, which means Bond also has changed. Nicolini continues her commentary thusly: “…the Bond franchise has done what most businesses do. It has created a new model to meet its market, and that is where Daniel Craig’s older, less glamorous Bond comes into play in Skyfall. The character has been transformed into a guy doing his job for the ineffectual bureaucracy he works for. He’s a company man, but the company only cares about itself, while giving Bond the illusion that it cares about him. Both his job and the system that employs him are on the brink of collapse, yet Bond keeps doggedly holding on, doing his job, and slugging away even as he’s beaten down.”
If you think that analysis was deep, try this comment from Sheldon Richman on for size: “We might say America has a James Bond complex. In the eyes of many Americans, the United States has a “Double O.” Bond said the Double O indicated “you’ve had to kill a chap in cold blood in the course of some assignment.” As Ian Fleming’s series went on, the Double O became a license to kill. Judging by how the U.S. government gets away with murder, terrorism and other horrible offenses, it apparently has a de facto license to kill. Although by the U.S. definition, nothing it does can ever qualify as murder and terrorism.”
A classic Richman burn there. Whilst much more than this has been written about Bond over the decades, be it about his relevance, his sexist attitudes, his place in the pantheons of cinema, etc, Bond’s last outing in Skyfall made one thing abundantly clear: people love Bond, so much so that Skyfall is the highest grossing Bond movie of all time, even out-grossing Batman’s much anticipated last cinema visit in The Dark Knight Rises. This makes Bond the third most successful movie franchise of all time, currently sitting nicely behind Harry Potter at number two and Marvel’s superhero universe at number one.
In fact, there is a strong Batman-esque theme running throughout Skyfall, with all of it’s dark brooding, it’s home coming climax, and the main character’s search for meaning. The image below, of Bond overlooking his home city of London, is reminiscent of Batman standing on a rooftop, overlooking his home city of Gotham…
Skyfall was Daniel Craig’s third outing as Bond, following Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace. Spectre will his fourth. In honour of the momentous celluloid moment of the release of Spectre, below are some of my favourite quotes from the first three Daniel Craig Bond movies. Enjoy!
Casino Royale (2006)
- Why is it that people who can’t take advice always insist in giving it?
- Arrogance and self-awareness seldom go hand-in-hand.
- You never play your hand, you play the man across from you.
- Vesper Lynd: It doesn’t bother you? Killing all those people?
- James Bond: Well I wouldn’t be very good at my job if it did.
- Vesper Lynd: You love me?
- James Bond: Enough to travel the world with you until one of us has to take an honest job…which I think is going to have to be you, because I have no idea what an honest job is.
- There isn’t enough room for me and your ego.
- Who the hell do they think they are? I report to the Prime Minister and even he’s smart enough not to ask me what we do. Have you ever seen such a bunch of self-righteous, ass-covering prigs? They don’t care what we do; they care what we get photographed doing. And how the hell could Bond be so stupid? I give him double-O status and he celebrates by shooting up an embassy. Is the man deranged? And where the hell is he? In the old days if an agent did something that embarrassing he’d have a good sense to defect. Christ, I miss the Cold War.
- Sometimes we pay so much attention to our enemies, we forget to watch our friends as well.
- I’ve got a little itch, down there. Would you mind?
[This last quote only painfully means something if you’ve seen the movie!]
Quantum Of Solace (2008)
- I don’t think the dead care about vengeance.
- When you can’t tell your friends from your enemies, it’s time to go.
- I guess when one’s young, it seems very easy to distinguish between right and wrong. But as one gets older, it becomes more difficult. The villains and the heroes get all mixed up.
- There’s nothing that makes me more uncomfortable than friends talking behind my back. It feels like ants under my skin.
- Well, they say you’re judged by the strength of your enemies.
- If we refused to do business with villains, we’d have almost no one to trade with. The world’s running out of oil, M. The Russians aren’t playing ball. The Americans and Chinese are dividing up what’s left. Right or wrong doesn’t come into it. We’re acting out of necessity.
- Camille: You can’t put a price on integrity.
- Greene: I can try.
- Q: 007. I’m your new Quartermaster.
- James Bond: You must be joking.
- Q: Why, because I’m not wearing a lab coat?
- James Bond: Because you still have spots!
- Q: My complexion is hardly relevant.
- James Bond: Your competence is.
- Q: Age is no guarantee of efficiency.
- James Bond: And youth is no guarantee of innovation.
- Q: Well, I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.
- Today I’ve repeatedly heard how irrelevant my department has become. “Why do we need agents, the Double-0 section? Isn’t it all antiquated?” Well, I suppose I see a different world than you do, and the truth is that what I see frightens me. I’m frightened because our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on a map. They’re not nations, they’re individuals. And look around you. Who do you fear? Can you see a face, a uniform, a flag? No! Our world is not more transparent now, it’s more opaque! It’s in the shadows. That’s where we must do battle. So before you declare us irrelevant, ask yourselves, how safe do you feel? Just one more thing to say, my late husband was a great lover of poetry, and…I suppose some of it sunk in, despite my best intentions. And here today, I remember this, I believe, from Tennyson: “We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, AND NOT TO YIELD.”
- Hello, James. Welcome. Do you like the island? My grandmother had an island. Nothing to boast of. You could walk around it in an hour, but still it was, it was a paradise for us. One summer, we went for a visit and discovered the place had been infested with rats. They’d come on a fishing boat and gorged themselves on coconut. So how do you get rats off an island? Hmm? My grandmother showed me. We buried an oil drum and hinged the lid. Then we wired coconut to the lid as bait and the rats would come for the coconut and…they would fall into the drum. And after a month, you have trapped all the rats, but what do you do then? Throw the drum into the ocean? Burn it? No. You just leave it and they begin to get hungry. And one by one…[mimics rat munching sound]…they start eating each other until there are only two left. The two survivors. And then what? Do you kill them? No. You take them and release them into the trees, but now they don’t eat coconut anymore. Now, they only eat rat. You have changed their nature. The two survivors. This is what she made us.