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Don’t F*%k With Bond

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Could the 'reboot' go too far?


Last time an action movie franchise was 'rebooted' to lift the stakes for the hero, the result was Mission Impossible 3, a movie too loud, too long and too in love with its star/producer.

Column inches and pixel space all over the movie media were devoted to how this time, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) would be given a whole new dimension when his personal life was dragged into IMF operations.

As we now know, all that meant was that when the bad guy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) kidnapped Hunt's wife (Michelle Monaghan), it just gave Tom the opportunity to put on his best 'this time, it's personal' face and get back to dubiously superhuman feats of skill and endurance, reminding us all how unworthy we are in his presence.

So here's a note to Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson and all future Bond movie directors (although a little late for Casino Royale director Martin Campbell and certainly for Lee Tamahori, director of the comic book-like Die Another Day).

Guys, in case you hadn't realised from 40 years of Bond lore, he's a fantasy figure.

For a realistic depiction of a modern spy, look no further than George Clooney's Middle East contact in Syriana – a dour, balding, embittered spook dying of cancer who's spent so much time undermining enemies of the West he's forgotten why he started.

But here's what we love about James Bond. He has a license to kill, gets all the chicks he wants and battles an endless procession of eccentric and colourful (Bondesque?) despots. That, and they have cooler lairs and better-dressed private armies of minions than any real-world rogue state dictator.

He has a technology branch behind him with an unlimited budget for cool and deadly toys. His work takes him to the most glamourous places on Earth, and if he has to vanquish an enemy agent, it's more likely to be a foxy 25-year-old he can convert in bed than a hairy Soviet-era knucklebreaker called Sergey.

Ian Fleming's book Casino Royale might have been as exciting as a game of Baccarat, but even he found his feet with Dr No, Goldfinger and their progeny.

All the elements add up to the fantasy, and the last thing we want to be told is James Bond is real enough to suffer a broken heart.

I'm only advising restraint on 'grittiness', 'realism' and the most overused phrase on the Internet right now ('reboot') because having Bond fall in love like a squealing little girlypants has been done once before, and the result was a Bond film like Sense and Sensibility is an action thriller. For 1987's The Living Daylights, Broccoli, Wilson and director John Glen decided to do away with the bevy of sexual partners for incoming Bond Timothy Dalton to be sensitive to the new age of AIDS awareness. They had him falling in love with cellist Maryam D'Abo, complete with hand-holding on a rollercoaster and longing gazes over milkshakes. It belonged in a Hugh Grant romantic comedy and according to many, that's why it failed.

With Bond releasing all over the world as we speak, many early critics who've seen it are pretty unanimous in disagreeing with the early indignation of Daniel Craig as Bond, so the signs look good.

So I'm just saying; don't make him too human. We go to the movies to maintain romantic and exciting illusions like James Bond, don't take that away from us...

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