James Bond, agent 007 with a licence to kill, has been part of the film culture since Sean Connery, wearing a light-grey suit and a businessman’s hat, appeared as the hero in Dr No (1962).
From the outset, the Bond movies were ground-breaking sensations. Their expected next release, usually about a year apart, keenly awaited.
Novelist and former spy Ian Fleming wrote the books from his home in the West Indies and there were some mishits from filmmakers before Albert (Cubby) Broccoli and Harry Saltzman produced Dr No.
Set in the West Indies, Dr No provided the Bond template: major pyscho with a brilliant brain plans world domination from a remote location. He (it was always ‘he’ from memory) has an army of heavily-armed worker ants – all in uniform – and a control laboratory with boffins in white coats.
A heroine, often in Bond’s company, is usually imprisoned by the psycho. Her rescue – and that of the world – rests with 007. Explosions ensue.
Apart from From Russia with Love (1963) – my favourite Bond film – this seemed pretty close to the formula which continued to work for 60 years.
Current Bond, Daniel Craig, has said he won’t make another so the search for a new 007 promises free advertising until the next film.
His last Bond film is No Time to Die (2021) and director Cary Fukunaga has helped with the script.
Fukunaga has made an eclectic range of movies but it his television offering of the first season of True Detective (2014) which stands as his highest achievement. Again please allow me an indulgence: it remains the best TV or movie I have seen in the past 20 years.
According to an article from Men’s Journal, an action scene in episode 4, is known through the industry as “The Shot.”
The scene comes from Season 1, Episode 4 of True Detective, titled “Who Goes There,” and features Matthew McConaughey’s character Rust Cohle helping to rob a drug stash house, and then escaping the dangerous neighborhood as he’s chased by gangsters and cops—all while taking a hostage, a bike gang member named Ginger, played by Joseph Sikora, along for the ride. What makes the scene so incredible isn’t just the pulse-pounding action and strong acting from McConaughey, it’s the fact that the scene goes on for six entire minutes without a single cut—it’s entirely done in one shot. Matthew Jussin, Men’s Journal
True Detective season 1 is not just an action series. The intense performances from McConaughey and his detective partner Woody Harrelson are as good as you will find. The story has great depth and it’s due to director Fukunaga and writer Nic Pizzolatto.
To help write and helm a Bond movie put Fukunaga into new ground. There was a distinguished and very profitable heritage to protect. Most people have a favourite Bond, a favourite scene, a favourite villain, a favourite “Bond girl.” Audiences have a connection with the films.
The fact I put Bond girl within quotation marks is my small sop to how far society has come since Dr No. There was a time I would not even have thought to do it. However, times have changed and No Time to Die is full of such changes. Bond started as heavily macho and sexist. He was a heavy drinker and an assassin.
In No Time to Die, he is retired to a lonely existence, notably in the West Indies. The Bond career ends as it began, in the Caribbean.
Nods like this to previous Bond films are prolific throughout No Time to Die and real fans of the genre would be able to name many more than me. However, it’s an homage to the previous 60 years.
But back to society changing. In 1962, there was little emotion in Bond; black actors only played humorous or servile roles in the story; women were there as sex objects or at best femme fatales.
Infamously, Honor Blackman was a lesbian aviatrix in Goldfinger (1964). Bond is so good in the sack (or in that case on the straw bales) she is ‘turned’ to heterosexuality. Her character name was Pussy Galore. Imagine this in a 2021 film?
However, the psycho first has to be hunted down and glamorous locations, evil opponents and Bond suavity are to the fore.
Most of the changes in the film’s attitude are definitely for the better. However, I could not cop Moneypenny. In 1962 she was a secretary, responsible for screening calls and visitors through to see M, the head of the spy organisation.
In No Time to Die, she is in nearly every office scene involving M, including when a decision has to be made to fire a British missile into another country’s air space. Significantly, it is this missile which finally kills Bond after 60 years of narrow escapes. Will he, cockroach like, survive this? Doubt it.
Craig is very good as the hero; Lea Seydoux (Midnight in Paris) plays his love interest, who betrays him; and Oscar winners Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) are particularly eerie super villains, one free, the other imprisoned.
For me, the recent films are nowhere as good as the first three mentioned here but No Time to Die is good entertainment. Bond never misses and the bad guys never hit and to kill him it takes a missile fired by the country he has chosen to protect for 60 years. Nice irony that.