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November 25, 2006

A Little Respect for Pierce Brosnan

Krissy and I got out to see Casino Royale this evening and as advertised, it's pretty damn good: It's got a rougher and more realistic edge than previous Bond flicks (I mean, within reason; it's still a Bond flick) and Daniel Craig is, in a word, terrific, and puts a great new spin on Bond that I'll be excited to see play out over the next couple of movies. If you're a Bond fan, you'll want to see it.

Having said that, I find myself unaccountably annoyed at the reviews I've seen of the film, many of which seem to praise Daniel Craig in part by taking a smack at Pierce Brosnan, Craig's predecessor in the role. Apparently Brosnan was too light and fluffy, his smooth good looks and terrific head of hair sapping the series of its life and vitality by his last turn in the tux, Die Another Day.

Well. I'm not going to argue whether it was time for a new Bond or not -- I suspect Brosnan would have been good for one more film, personally, but cashing him out after the last one was fine, too -- but I will say this sort of revisionism at the expense of Brosnan is a little mean-spirited. It's worth remembering that Brosnan's turn as Bond saved the franchise, rescuing the series from the embarrassing aesthetic and financial train wreck it had become with the two Timothy Dalton films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill. Daylights did a fair amount of business (about as much as A View to a Kill, the last Roger Moore outing) but it was a flatly terrible flick, and Licence, which was even worse, was an outright flop, the first one the series ever suffered -- it made $34 million in 1989; to find another Bond film that made less, you have to back fifteen years from there, to The Man With the Golden Gun, which when adjusted for inflation made rather more than Licence. Indeed, adjusted for inflation, Licence is easily the dog of the Bonds (to be fair, it did rather better internationally).

(Let me take a moment here to say: Poor Timothy Dalton. People like to blame him for the awfulness of this Bond flicks, but Dalton is a more than credible actor who had a great look, too. If we're going to lay blame for the pure craptacularity of the Dalton Bonds, let's put the blame where it deserves to be placed: First on director John Glen, a longtime Bond hand who had basically inherited the director's chair beginning with For Your Eyes Only (he'd been a second unit director on previous Bond flicks, beginning with On Her Majesty's Secret Service) and whose directorial style was workman like at best and borderline incompetent at worst (Licence and his post-Bond gigs Aces: Iron Eagle III and the appallingly bad Christopher Columbus: The Discovery). Second, on writers Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum, both also long-time Bond hands (Wilson still is; he's exec producer now) who didn't give Dalton anything useful to work with. If Dalton hadn't been given crap to recite and a hack director, he'd probably have been a fine Bond. But he was given crap in both cases, so there you have it.)

It's worth remembering that GoldenEye, the first of the Brosnan Bonds, was as much of a reboot of the series as Casino Royale is touted as being. The producers shockingly went outside the Bond camp to find a new director (Martin Campbell, who, as it happens, also directs Royale) and new screenwriters (Jeffrey Caine, who was nominated for an Oscar just last year for his screenplay for The Constant Gardener, and Bruce Feirstein, better known as a humorist, and who gave the Bond dialog some real kick). The story also recognized that Bond had become an anachronism (you'll recall M's dressing down of Bond as a misogynist dinosaur) and thus allowed him to get over it and get on with being Bond for the 90s.

In no uncertain terms, the reboot saved the series: GoldenEye became the first Bond flick to gross over $100 million domestically and more than doubled the international take of Licence; what's more, each subsequent Brosnan Bond film made more, both domestically and internationally, than the one before it. Die Another Day took in $431 million worldwide. We can certainly argue whether the Brosnan Bonds didn't eventually get silly -- I think casting Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in The World is Not Enough was asking the audience to swallow one whopper too many -- but let's not pretend they didn't deliver the goods, both in terms of profitability and what people come to Bond films for: guns, girls and gadgets.

Let's also note that Brosnan was a damn fine Bond. For one thing, he could act, which is more than you could say of, say, Roger Moore. For another thing, he had a great look, which does matter. And finally, he gave Bond something new: A bit (just a bit) of world-weariness, to contrast with Connery's off-the-cuff sadism and Moore's it's-all-a-lark-ness. If you look, you can actually catch the Brosnan Bond thinking from time to time, which was a refreshing change.

Taking as given, as one must, that Sean Connery is the Bond archetype, I feel confident in saying that Brosnan was a better Bond by far than Roger Moore, who while showing some semblance of menace early on quickly degenerated into the effete creakiness that makes his later Bond turns all but unwatchable. He's also rather better than poor Timothy Dalton, hobbled as he was by the hacktacularity of his films. He's probably better than George Lazenby, too although it's so hard to tell from only one film (and of course many Bond folks think Majesty is the best of the Bond films, story-wise). Daniel Craig, as noted earlier, is terrific, but we need at least one more film from him before we can really see if he deserves to settle into the "at the right hand of Connery" position. For now, Brosnan's got it, and he's earned it.

So: By all means, enjoy Casino Royale and Daniel Craig and the new direction the Bond series seems to be heading toward. But try not to dump all over Brosnan as you do so, even if you're inclined to. If it wasn't for him saving the series, the only Casino Royale you'd be watching is the one with David Niven and Woody Allen, and that's just not the same. Trust me.

Posted by john at November 25, 2006 12:52 AM

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Andrew | November 25, 2006 01:16 AM

I haven't seen all the Bonds, but I have seen a lot of them. I'll agree that Sean Connery is the archtype: Everyone else is just following him.

The thing about Casino Royale is that it felt like it was on a much smaller scale than the Brosnan movies. It's the story of a spy who does a field op in Africa (with some crazy parkour, but it is an action flick), gets sent to Eastern Europe on another operation, and then stays in a hotel in Italy. It doesn't involve The End of the World, Prevention Thereof. Personally, I like that a lot more.

Annalee Flower Horne | November 25, 2006 01:27 AM

I actually preferred Brosnan to Connery. I know that makes me some kind of horrible philistine, but there it is. It's possible that I feel that way because Brosnan is very much the 007 designed for my generation, but he'll always be the yardstick by which I compare other Bonds. I really liked what he brought to the role.

Maybe I'd like Connery better if he'd appeared in films that were meant to directly appeal to me and other spawn of the 80s the way Brosnan did. I just think the newer plotlines are better, the dialogue wittier, and the bond girls more engaging (Richards aside).

Annalee Flower Horne | November 25, 2006 01:34 AM

Also (on an only vaguely related note), say what you will about The World is Not Enough, but its opening credits song was arguably one of the best bond-songs ever. If you haven't seen the music video for it, you should. It's well and truly awesome.

Lady M | November 25, 2006 01:42 AM

Brosnan is The Bond for me, over all the rest. I'm looking forward to seeing Daniel Craig, but I'll have to wait for Netflix since it's still too complicated to get out to the theater with the young'un.

Justine Larbalestier | November 25, 2006 02:31 AM

Agreed. We've been watching a different Bond movie every night---there's a special Bond season on Thai tellie. And, wow, the two Dalton movies are dire. But, as you say, it's SO not his fault.

And many of the Moore films are just as bad. Roger Moore's Bond is an abomination in the face of the Lord.

My only disagreement is that George Lazenby* is clearly the best of the Bonds. Yes, I am of the camp that thinks Majesty is by far the best Bond movie. Diana Rigg is awesome.

*And not just because he's Australian.

Aaron Haynes | November 25, 2006 02:39 AM

Brosnan's my personal favorite also. Connery is of course the template and untouchable, but I agree with Annalee in that Brosnan probably appeals the most to the 80s generation.

I was also sad to see him go after only four films; he was starting to look a little old in Die Another Day (which had already been a concern as early as Goldeneye), but he had a lot more potential. I wonder if they could have shot one final outing with him simultaneously with Casino Royale? I think it would've worked.

critter42 | November 25, 2006 02:50 AM

I never got that either - first everyone was absolutely *clamoring* for him - remember the uproar that occurred when they tried to replace Moore? Brosnan seemingly had the role in the bag when NBC got petulant and refused to let him out of his Remington Steele contract, or at least accomodate his movie shooting schedule. Timothy Dalton was not their first choice - he was their fallback position. Everyone cheered when Brosnan was *finally* tapped to sit in the Aston Martin. Now - it's that typical Hollywood "what have you done for me lately" attitude.

Byron | November 25, 2006 03:34 AM

I really appreciated the minimal use of gadgetry in this outing---the Brosnan Bonds had gotten a bit ridiculous in that regard. Bond has always had super gadgets, but with Brosnan it was almost more about the gadgets than the agent. Invisible Car? No. Of course, we got the DBS (and an original Bond DB5, which was a nice touch) but it didn't do anything absurd, except not release the airbags in a massive crash (What was up with that?). It should have at least 4, possibly 6, and there was definitely both and and frontal impact of sufficient speed to set them off. Just sayin'.

Actually, while we're on the subject... which idiot had the idea of putting Military Intelligence background on 007's laptop? MI6 should really have a long talk with their IT people about "asking for trouble."

P.S. I also like the new Felix.

Martyn Taylor | November 25, 2006 04:23 AM

Byron - Dame Stella Rimmington, that's who.

Fleming wrote Bond as a psychotic killer fresh out of the war. What got Fleming's rocks off weren't the gadgets or the girls, or even the gambling. It was killing people.

Stone killer as hero and role model? I guess that says something about us, doesn't it.

I haven't seen Daniel Craig yet, but I rank Bonds as Connery, Brosnan, Dalton, Niven, Allen and Lazenby. Moore? I don't know who he was playing, but it wasn't James Bond.

Miko | November 25, 2006 06:43 AM

C'mon, GoldenEye was raw terrible. As with Dalton's films, it may not have been the fault of the person playing Bond, but it still doesn't help it being one of the downright stupidest films of all time. Yes, I know the Bond films have a long-standing tradition of being dumb and fun, but not that dumb.

PixelFish | November 25, 2006 06:59 AM

I read the actual novel of Casino Royale some years back--8ish, or so--and as a child of the 80s who had only seen the Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan turns, the novel was a teensy bit shocking to me.

I'm kinda glad to see Scalzi's opinion of Dalton here, since I feel like it's a Jessica Rabbit sort of case: I'm not bad, I was just written that way.

bliss | November 25, 2006 08:26 AM

Brosnan! Yes, he was the best ever imho. The grace he had, unmatchable.

Dean | November 25, 2006 08:49 AM

I have a soft spot for Roger Moore. Live and Let Die was my first Bond film, and I was an impressionable 13 year old. I was stunned by Jane Seymour's beauty (still am whenever I see the film). I found the McCartney theme and the opening sequence hypnotic - for a 13 year old boy in 1973, the music and the twisting female forms were something.

I readily acknowledge that Moore is the worst of the Bonds, but as with Dalton, a lot of it isn't his fault. He was too old, for one thing. For another, he didn't fit the part of Fleming's Bond, who, as someone above noted, is a stone cold killer, dark, savage, and uncompromising.

Live and Let Die will always be a bit different for me. Moore was suave and smooth and very, very English. I longed to be able to look at someone and cock an eyebrow like Moore does.

I'm looking forward to the new one. Daniel Craig has the look that I have always associated with the Fleming Bond, that look that says that you'd better not fuck with this guy because he's crazy enough to shoot you. Or knife you. Or steal your woman.

Eric | November 25, 2006 08:50 AM

I don't know how you can describe Iron Eagle III as "borderline incompetent." I'd argue for "way below the standards of a high school drama class," or perhaps, "the canonical overview of How Not to Direct™."

There's so many things to criticize about that movie. Let's start with the highlights:

* The lead actress is very good at the whole "silent but deadly" business for the first part of the movie. Unfortunately, she can't remain silent forever, and when she opens her mouth, she squeaks.

* Every time the director wants a dialog scene with three or more actors, he lines them all up in row, facing straight at the camera.

* (Spoiler alert.) The bit with the elderly World War II pilots flying antique planes in support of South American rebels was corny, but keeping with the spirit of the original Iron Eagle. But when a Nazi superplane appears out of nowhere in the last dogfight, well, let's just say that I've seen better writing in Deathrace 2000.

Gwen | November 25, 2006 09:39 AM

It'll always be Brosnan for me. James Bond, Remington Steele...we love you Pierce!
(A frequent conversation in our house whenever he comes up--
My mother: It's too bad he's married.
Me [Giving her a strange look]: You're married too, Mom.
My mother: Yeah, but I'd leave in a heartbeat if Pierce wasn't married.
I never can tell if she's joking or not.)

John Scalzi | November 25, 2006 09:41 AM


"I don't know how you can describe Iron Eagle III as 'borderline incompetent.' I'd argue for 'way below the standards of a high school drama class,' or perhaps, 'the canonical overview of How Not to Direct™.'"

I was indeed being charitable. It was one in fact one of the worst films I've seen, and the direction can best be described as "Bad 70s TV." Man, it was awful.

Eddie | November 25, 2006 09:51 AM

Several things about Bond films I find truly interesting.

It started in the the old school Hollywood tradition in that Broccoli and Saltzman took a mediocre piece of genre fiction and turned it into something quite different.The films made Ian Fleming's reputation, not the books.

In the 60's the appeal of Bond films was the S-E-X.Young moviegoers today can't really understand how incredibly racy those films were, with Connery and his femme fatales.It was groundbreaking stuff in the vein of Hugh Hefner and Playboy,but Broccoli managed to get by the Hollywood censors and reach millions of horny boys(and men) in the theaters. I know, now it seems pretty tame.LOL

The continued success of the films had a lot to do with factors that had nothing to do with the leading men.The long running part played by Desmond Llewelyn as Q,especially.All those Aston-Martin automobiles with their ejector seats and machine guns. Rocket packs and mini-submarines.More boy fantasy stuff.

Bond lost ground in the seventies and eighties not necessarily because the films were bad. In my opinion ALL the Bond films have been mediocre in most respects.What happened was that mainstream Hollywood caught up with and passed Broccoli and company and began to produce edgier sexier movies that made Bond an anachronism.

Sean Connery of course,being one of the greatest actors of two generations ,did a lot to make Bond sell.

Nowadays since the sex is blase and the gadgets are blase, Bond NEEDS to be well acted.

John Cleese to take over as Q was a masterstroke.Is he in the new one?

Jim Winter | November 25, 2006 09:58 AM

I actually liked LICENCE, but I recognized it for what it was, which was LIVE AND LET DIE done properly. However, it's definitely not a Top 10 flick. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, otoh, always leaves me thinking Brosnan's going to walk in any second and say to Dalton, "Thanks, Tim. I'll take it from here." Of course, that one was written for Brosnan during his Remington Steele days, and shows.

Of all the Brosnan flicks, TWINE is the weak sister. It felt like the film version of a novel. (Ironically, Raymond Benson's novelization is supposed to be very good.) DIE ANOTHER DAY and TOMORROW NEVER DIES are deliberately over the top with a certain cheekiness you find in the later Connery flicks.

I always say MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is the worst Bond flick ever, though I usually expect (and understand) protests that it's either MOONRAKER or A VIEW TO A KILL. You can make strong cases for all three wasting celluloid that could have been used by some deserving MST3K fodder. At least VIEW had a cool theme song, something that was lacking until GOLDENEYE came out. (Though what was GARBAGE thinking with TWINE? And Cornell's CR theme is the most forgettable of them all.)

Colm Mac | November 25, 2006 10:03 AM

I have a soft spot for GoldenEye. It was the first Bond movie I saw in a cinema. It has the best story of the Brosnan Bonds. But for each Bond after it, the story's became more and more ridiculous. Not to mention John Cleese playing Q like a Monty Python-lite sketch.

I really enjoyed Casino Royale. What is interesting is I can't think of a single Bond line in the whole film. There aren't any whitty one liners that I can think of. The things you talk about are what Bond does not what he says.

About no airbags in the crash - I presume that airbags are one of the things removed from the console to fit Double-O gear.

Ron Hogan | November 25, 2006 10:12 AM

Add me to the camp that thinks Brosnan an awesome Bond. Heck, I'm even holding out vague hopes that Chris Nolan will tap Brosnan to star in his movie of The Prisoner just for the added frisson.

Suzanne M | November 25, 2006 11:07 AM

I was raised on Connery's Bond films (I first saw Goldfinger when I was, I think, about six.), so of course he is and always will be Bond. I saw a couple of Roger Moore's attempts at the role and couldn't stand him. I'm sorry to say that I've never seen either of Dalton's Bond movies or On Her Majesty's Secret Service. (I've heard people say that George Lazenby may have been a good Bond if only his movie weren't abysmal, but I have no way to offer an opinion. Also, I developed such a crush on Dalton in The Lion in Winter that I kind of don't want to ruin it by hating him as Bond.)

All of that said, I loved GoldenEye. Loved it. Granted, I was 13 when it came out, and so I was easily won over by explosions and that BMW and my deep and abiding love for Sean Bean. Brosnan, I thought, was a perfectly good Bond. Then I saw his next one and hated it. That wasn't Brosnan's fault--I still thought he was fine--but I was bored to death. So bored that I didn't even see his last two movies. I'm a little ashamed of that. I'm not in a position to judge whether he could've done another Bond movie or not, but if he had, I probably wouldn't have seen that one, either.

Joel Finkle | November 25, 2006 11:13 AM

My biggest problems with the Brosnan Bonds were (a) craptacular gimmicks (stealth boat? hello - sonar! and invisible car?), and (b) he was no longer a spy, just a commando. No sneaky, no recover information, just a lot of blow s*** up. On the other hand, the sheer joy of Brosnan operating his car by remote control from the rear seat, and the bonus of Michelle Yoh the middle one were terrific. There were some great secondary characters throughout the Brosnan period, which I can say was sorely lacking in CR. Except for the stunt-a-rama at the start, and Vesper, none of the characters made me care at all, unlike Jinx, Michelle Yoh's chinese agent, the pen-clicker in Goldeneye, Robbie Coltrane, etc.

Mark Tiedemann | November 25, 2006 11:55 AM

To be fair to Dalton, the franchise was trying a couple of new things with him, too. One, they attempted to wean everyone away from the techno-romps of the later Moore's, which were absurd (except for For Your Eyes ONly, which I thought was at least credible as a Bond story). Dalton's two flicks had a minimum of gadget. The other thing, at least as far as the first of his is concerned, was an attempt to "tame" him a bit--he only had one fling in Living Daylights. I liked Liscence To Kill because it sent him rogue, out of revenge, and it was kind of nasty that way. But they were clearly "in transition" pictures. Brosnan picked up where Connery left off, I felt, but the chief problem was that the Bonds were all Cold War stories, and it took a bit to translate that kind of aesthetic into whatever it is we're in now. It generally didn't work--and it was a bit of a clunk in Brosnan's first outing when a significant part of the motivation resided with a Satlin-era betrayal leaving Bean's bad guy an orphan. Conservatively, these two "superspies" should have been in their fifties or better to make this really relavent. Would that we all aged as well!

It sounds like they're not just rebooting with Craig--who at least looks more like Fleming's Bond than any of the others, including Connery (who Fleming thought was "too pretty")--but starting all over. Casino Royale was the first novel and it dealt mostly with a novice spy trying to decide whether or not this was really the career path for him.

They left the novels behind after Thunderball, as far as I'm concerned. Even On Her Majestie's was only surface-related. None of the Moore slicks had much to do with what Fleming wrote, which was a shame, really. Those novels, for what they were, conveyed something unique.

Moore, to me, will always be The Saint--he could be nothing else--and they should have dropped him after the first two Bonds he did.

Soni | November 25, 2006 02:13 PM

Mmmmm.....Brosnan. He played some guy in some spy movie, right? I dunno...I was too busy just looking at him to remember much about the movies. 100% eye candy from my point of view. Hell, I'd watch him do mime and pay for the privilege. Now that's pure animal lust right there, baby.

Gwen - Tell your mother I'm right behind her. Most married couples take for granted that there are some people (almost always celebrities) for whom a spouse gets a "Get out of marital vows free" card, should such unlikely hookups actually materialize. And by unlikely, I mean approaching statistically infinite odds against.

But still, on the off chance that life treats Pierce badly and I'm the one he comes to for succor (why does that phrase always sound so dirty?), hubby knows it would be physically unsafe for him to stand between me and the door. And I, likewise, will graciously step aside for the night for any sudden manifestations of Jennifer Hewitt into hubby's social life.

Unfortunately for us individually, but fortunately for our vows, Jen is far more likely to end up with Pierce and vice versa than either of them are to even so much Google hubs or myself in a fit of curiosity. But still, we can all dream.

Patrick Vera | November 25, 2006 02:21 PM

To me the best Connery Bonds were the first two being a closer to the books that I had read.(All my Fleming Bonds were destroyed in a flood a few years ago.)

The absolute best quip in all of the Bond movies is from Goldfinger and it goes to the villain:
Bond: You expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.

Regarding, the stunt chase in Africa, the guy Bond was chasing co-created that particular extreme sport and except perhaps for the crane jumps (for insurance reasons I expect) was all done for real with no wires.

Free-running involves running across rooftops, stairs, balconies, bridges and other urban features with minimal preparation. I first saw Sebastien Foucan in a documentary called Jump London which followed Foucan and two others as they free-ran around London.

Tripp | November 25, 2006 02:27 PM

Sophie Marceau who played Elektra in The World is Not Enough proves that a woman does not have to be young to be absolutely gorgeous. With her on screen one barely noticed Denise Richards, which is saying a lot by itself. I had a strong crush on her for weeks after seeing that film, even though she plays a bad guy.

Patrick Vera | November 25, 2006 02:29 PM

John forgot about the TV broadcast of Casino Royale on CBS in 1954.


It starred Barry Nelson as American agent Jimmy Bond and had Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre.

Jon H | November 25, 2006 02:30 PM

"Poor Timothy Dalton. People like to blame him for the awfulness of this Bond flicks, but Dalton is a more than credible actor who had a great look, too."

Nah, the reason to pity poor Timothy Dalton is that he once had a love scene with Mae West.

Jim Winter | November 25, 2006 03:31 PM

"Sophie Marceau who played Elektra in The World is Not Enough proves that a woman does not have to be young to be absolutely gorgeous. With her on screen one barely noticed Denise Richards, which is saying a lot by itself."

Tripp, I gotta agree. I actually suffered through that David Spade movie she did because of her work in TWINE. And please. They couldn't find an older actress to play the nuclear physicist? Let's be honest. Denise Richards was hired solely so we could see her strip out of her radiation suit.

Timothy McClanahan | November 25, 2006 04:16 PM

Eddie - no, no Q in the new Casino Royale, which is a shame. Still, Dame Judi Dench is back as M, which is a great thing. She's such a class act. Everyone should see her in Mrs. Henderson Presents (along with Bob Hoskins) - great movie.

The most amazing part (visually) for me in Casino Royale is how that guy that Bond is chasing in the beginning MOVES. Unbelievable stuntwork for somebody. I really want to see the 'making of' for just that part of the movie.

Chang who is shaken, not stirred. | November 25, 2006 06:05 PM

I never got really horny over the franchise, but, that said, here's my order of Bond relevance:

1) Connery
2) Brosnan
3) Moore
4) Dalton
5) The Strine

I have to send this link to my friend Alistair, as he loves to rag on Moore's Disco Bond. I love Brosnan (he was almostin a movie filmed at my parents house this past fall, but he bailed. Woe is me. Uma Thurman was in it too but dude! BROASNAN! No I am not gay).

I have a soft spot for Moore and GOlden Gun, but not much of one.

I think Daniel Craig will do quite well. When I disocvered he was only a year or two older than me my heart sank a little bit. One day I will live in a world where I am older than Bond. James Bond.

Steve Buchheit | November 25, 2006 06:08 PM

I actually liked Timothy Dalton as Bond. They certainly gave him crap for scripts and the second team direction seemed to shine a little better than the main team. Also Bronson could pull off the "cool under fire" look for the screen better than any of the others.

Bobarino | November 25, 2006 09:01 PM

Chang, I'm older than the new Bond and, believe me, it's not as big a thrill as you think.

Justine Larbalestier | November 25, 2006 09:06 PM

critter42 said Timothy Dalton was not their first choice - he was their fallback position.

Not so. Dalton was first offered the role back in 1969, but turned it down cause he thought he was too young. It went to Lazenby instead.

Chang, who gets nothing done without caffeine | November 25, 2006 09:11 PM

Bobarino, it's not that it's a thrill. More of a letdown. Like the time I discovered a Playboy centerfold was younger than me. Soon they were ALL younger than me.

zhwj | November 25, 2006 09:36 PM

My introduction to Bond was through the two Dalton movies. Then I saw "View to a Kill" on TV, followed by the Connery comeback film that for some reason aired practically every Saturday afternoon. Then I devoured the books.

That sequence has colored my impression of the series, and I can't really take the early Bonds seriously at all. Brosnan's stuff had some nice gadgets and some pretty interesting villains, and some of the dialogue was entertaining, is all I can really say. I'm looking forward to the new one, though.

Craig Mitton | November 25, 2006 10:29 PM

TO Mr. Scalzi, I completely agree that Brosnan was a great Bond. Brosnan also has the cache of being an actor with a past before Bond, and a perfectly respectable future without Bond - much like Craig. Connery is Bond, but the subtle yet profound bit of quantum states that has guided my life now has me seeing Sean Connery as a Russian submarine captain, in what could be argued as a kind of anti-Bond type of situational hero thriller. Moore's stint as Bond: Live and Let Die very good, Bond's got a Magnum .44! As for Moore's other Bondapades, he has to carry all the responsibility and/or laurels for the bits of campiness that Mike Myers was able to pick up on for his Austin Powers movies. As for Dalton, seriously, how are you going to make any convincing spy vs spy movie with Reagan and Bush in the Whitehouse. Their geo-politics were scary enough on their own.

Cassie | November 25, 2006 10:33 PM

Gwen and Soni

For your amusement: Stalking Alan Rickman

Nathan | November 25, 2006 10:45 PM

I'm SOOO not a 007 authority, but I saw Casino Royale today and I'm sold. This Bond sweats, bleeds, gets dirty......all the stuff a killer should do.

I'm looking forward to his next go-round.

Jeff | November 26, 2006 01:13 AM

Connery: Hall of Fame
Moore: Honorable Mention as I grew up with him.
Lazenby: Incomplete, could have been a contender.
Dalton: Bad writing, directing and cast.
Brosnan: Hall inductee five years after retirement.
Craig: Incomplete, but great start.

Patrick Vera | November 26, 2006 04:29 AM

Casino Royale has the distinction of having visualized three times for the screen.

They are working backwards, the current movie in theaters, the 1967 Parody with David Niven, Woody Allen and as an episode of a 1954 CBS live broadcast anthology series.


It starred Barry Nelson as American agent Jimmy Bond and had Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre.

Peter | November 26, 2006 06:15 AM

I agree the Dalton movies aren't that great, but I always liked Dalton himself as much as Connery, maybe even more. To me, he personified Bond as the badass killer, complete with cruel smirk.

Hilary | November 26, 2006 01:15 PM

I agree with virtually all you have said. One of the really nice things about Casino Royal is that is it a minimalist Bond film. The car crash for example, every bond film crashes a car, ok so what did they do in this film for the ultimate crash? Only the car crashes, on an open road across an open field, but what a crash it is. It is fantastic in it’s simplicity. The fights are similar rough, pounding occasionally a little over the top in duration, but gritty in implementation. Looking forward to more Craig, I think he will do well in the role.

PixelFish | November 26, 2006 07:02 PM

More fodder for the Bond discussion: Idolator presents The Worst Bond Themes.

Q | November 26, 2006 08:01 PM

The engineer in me can't let this pass... to the person deriding the "stealth ship" in Tomorrow Never Dies... please Google or check Wikipedia for "Sea Shadow". Many stealth techniques do indeed work quite well for sonar as well as radar.

Interesting trivia: When the prototype of the F-117 Stealth Fighter was photographed with a Polaroid camera, the pictures all turned out blurry, because of the Polaroids use of a sonar-like signal to determine range for autofocus...

Er... and more on topic:

1. Connery
2. Brosnan

Looking forward to seeing Casino Royale when we get a babysitter...

Jon Mann | November 26, 2006 09:29 PM

The sad thing is, Cornell already wrote an ideal Bond theme song: Blow Up The Outside World. Pity he didn't just tweak it a bit for Royale...

John League | November 27, 2006 09:54 AM

Whatever one thinks of the various incarnations and misuses of Bond actors, consider the pitiful job the writers (and casting directors) of these movies have done for the villains. Christopher Walken was utterly wasted in A View to a Kill, as was Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies. Then you have Joe Don Baker and Jeroen Krabbe in The Living Daylights? Please.

Tor | November 27, 2006 11:40 AM

Finally saw it last night, and it does feel like a rebirth for the series. I grew up with Moore's movies, so I admit that I have a soft spot for him, but at the same time, I think Moore's gadgets represented the pinnacle of Bond gadgetry. Not that they were the most extreme, but they perfectly hit the line between cool and believable. The highpoint being the underwater car. As well as the fact that at the age I saw For Your Eyes Only, the underwater fight scene, as well as the active participation of the 'helpless female victim' were hugh plusses for me. I remember always being freaked out by the dude in the Jim Suit... So Moore gets second place because of that, for me.

I really enjoyed Casino Royale, if for no other reason than Bond gets back the charming mysogeny that he lost in the Dalton years, and never really regained under Brosnan. The first time Dalton asked for two rooms (for him and the cellist) made me choke. But what was great was the mysogeny was presented not as a wolf among sheep (see Connery, Lazenby and Moore) but as a bad boy appreciated for being bad. One of the best lines in the movie, IMHO, was:

You don't have to worry about me, you're not my type.

What, too smart?

No... you're single.

Which ended up forshadowing the end of the movie. The lines during the torture scene also seemed very Bond-ish, even though I couldn't see any of the previous Bonds ever saying them.

In any event, although I did really enjoy Brosnan's Bond, the tech in those movies was too outlandish for my taste. And a villan with diamonds embedded in his face? Or with a slowly migrating bullet, causing him to act violently? I much prefer the subtlety of one or two bloody tears, with the understated explaination that it was 'a misaligned tear duct.' That has more menace to me than the more outlandish motivations/quirks of Brosnan's villans.

So my ranking, for what it's worth is:


With Lazenby and Craig getting high marks, but in my book, you have to play Bond more than once to get on the list.

alkali | November 27, 2006 05:01 PM

Of the seven Roger Moore Bond films, at least three are pretty good (The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), For Your Eyes Only (1981)) and three are pretty bad (Moonraker (1979), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985)).

The seventh (Live and Let Die (1973)) is pretty entertaining if you can forget about the wildly racist premise (scary Negroes have evil plan to drug our kids).

Cat Brother | November 27, 2006 06:41 PM

I grew up seeing Bond on TV. When my dad took me to 'The Spy Who Loved Me,' I must have been about 12, on a guys' night out, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. That film didn't age real well, though...
No doubt, Brosnan rebooted the franchise. Nobody's yet noted, that this was the first meta-Bond, self-referential Bond, in the fashion of Scream. Remember Sean Bean mocking him in the statue graveyard, what, James, no witty remark to cap the scene, and later, did all those martinis you drank dull the memory of all the people you killed for your government?
And that opening sequence - best f'ing ever. I have a good story about it, from a guy who was there at the filming. Apparently, they had to throw life-size dummies off the dam to see how far to make the bungee cable. The dummies kept smashing to pieces against the dam, in what would have been fatal for a real person. A pack of stunt men were hanging out, waiting to see if the stunt could actually be done. THE VERY FIRST TIME they got a dummy to survive to the bottom of the dam, a stunt guy jumped up and said, "Yeah! I'll do it! Hook me up!" And so it was done. That guy could have been dead as a can of tuna for a number of reasons, but now? Best Bond opening ever.
And I'll add, Brosnan obviously trained his ass off for that part. I work as a trainer, and was impressed by his physicality.
'World is Not Enough' sucked donkey kong, but it was a bad script.
Re the original 'Casino Royale,' well, someone's gotta do it...I will stand up and say, I liked the original 'Casino Royale' with David Niven, Woody Allen, Orson Welles (!), Peter Sellars, Deborah Kerr, and Ursual Andress. This may have something to do with first seeing it at age 10, and thinking Ursula was a goddess on earth. I believe I was stoned most other times I saw it. Hey, Netflix it and try it.
A lot of the humor was vaudeville-corny, but a lot was subtle and laugh-out-loud. Like -
SPOILER ALERT! For the book, haven't seen the new movie -
In the book, Bond is captured by the villain, whom he's just fleeced in a card game. The villain tortures Bond by tieing him naked in a chair with no bottom, and beating Bond's balls with a carpet-beater. Not sure I'll see that one in the new movie. So, in the movie, Orson Welles (who never breaks character once) captures Peter Sellars as Bond, who wakes up in a chair with no bottom. Sellars comments on this, and Welles rather blandly says, "Yes, we've been meaning to get that re-upholstered..."
Stuff like that. I say rent it!

Ann Vallier | November 28, 2006 01:04 PM

Worst Bond movie ever - please! That title easily goes to "Octopussy". I liked Moore in the beginning but his time lasted WAY too long. His believability as super-stud plummeted during the 80's - his age just caught up with him kind of fast.

I would have liked to see Lazenby give it another shot to see what else he could have done with the role. I think Dalton may have been the right choice for the Bond that was played in "Licence" because he did a good nasty Bond. Brosnan would have been good at that one too, but I'm glad he didn't have to suffer through that plot.

I really had issues with "Die Another Day" because so much of it was so fake - I liked how "real" the Bond stunts used to be and to see them replaced with the horror that CG brings to movies these days was just too sad.

Arthur Bordon | January 4, 2007 09:51 AM

I commend Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig for portraying the character as envisioned by its creator, Ian Fleming. As a fan of the character, I appreciate their work and I'm sure I share this with all fans of James Bond, the character as opposed to fans of James Bond, the movie series.

Rob | January 19, 2007 10:11 AM

Pierce Brosnan was a dress up bond. He wore the clothes and had the look but he was by no means a real bond. Not to mention the movies he was in had terrible plots, direction, and special effects. I fell asleep through half of them. They were all disappointments considering I'm a huge Bond fan.. I've been quietly waiting for him to fade out of the picture. I think the critics are right on the mark when they say he was sapping the series of its life. Thats why he was replaced. He sucked. Daniel Craig breathes new life into the franchise and I think they did right by picking an original Ian Flemming story. My only question for future movies, where are the sinister bad guys we love to hate that carry over through more than just one movie, or the evil organizations? I miss a lot of that.. what is a nemesis if you simply swap the plot and character alliances 6 times in a movie and kill him off by the end of it. Hopefully they find some new blood that can write this series into a much more intriguing direction. I'm sick of rogue terrorists. Things were so much easier when the cold war was still around to build plots around :)

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