“Stop getting Bond wrong!” Alan Partridge once lamented before memorably acting out the storied spook’s shenanigans at the start of For Your Eyes Only in the den area of his caravan.
I’m sure there are millions of similarly obsessive fans out there who were appalled when the premise for the new Casino Royale was announced: No Q; minimal gadgets; dearth of dry humour; Ugly blond man in the lead; Prequel? Set in the present day?? Not for me thanks!
Anyway – I finally went to see it the other day. Quite good isn’t it? Clever, in a clunking, trying-to-be-postmodern kind of way:
Bond: Vodka Martini.
Barman: Would you like that shaken or stirred, sir?
Bond: Do I look like I give a damn?
Oh the media scorn as Daniel Craig donned a life vest aboard a speedboat, and shifted awkwardly through the frenzied PR brouhaha. “Pampered Primrose Hill poof,” the tabloids mocked, before anyone had actually seen him in action. Actually Craig is the meanest, grittiest and most sinister Bond to date. He looks like he could kick the shit out of Timothy Dalton at any rate.
“He’s not nearly as good a Connery”, the simpering, old school aficionados are bleating, conveniently forgetting the hackneyed, brycream-ed pensioner’s last outing in Never Say Never Again. Anyway, Connery used to be a milkman, didn’t he? Albeit a hard one.
Pound for pound, gag for gag and gadget for gadget, I’m still going for Moore as the greatest, but Craig has injected some much needed spice into a creaking franchise and I for one feel a bit more tinkering could revive it still further. So I’ve knocked together a new script for the Broccolis to chew over:
INT. Thames House Special Ops Meeting Room – 2100 hrs
Harry Pearce, the curmudgeonly head of MI5, sits alone, grim-faced, deep in thought. His entire crew: Adam Carter, Zaf, Malcom, Ros, Ruth and the fit bird who used to be a student have been obliterated during a botched undercover mission at a BNP rally.
Meanwhile Britain is gripped by terrorism. Harry has just returned from a hastily-arranged COBRA meeting and has been tasked with bringing down a vicious al-Queda cell which is close to launching an all-out attack on London
Harry’s eyes narrow as his newly assigned team of agents, drafted from MI6, file in and sit down around the table. A projector throws images of shifty terror suspects onto the front wall.
Silence as the camera pans slowly around the table from Harry’s POV. Agent Connery, resplendent in tuxedo and ice white cummerbund, fixes Harry with an effortlessly cool glare that lingers somewhere in between friendship and unadulterated contempt; Moore lolls back in his chair, a playful arch to his lustrous eyebrow, equally stylish, but more in the lounge room mould with pressed camel chinos and a silk shirt cut to the naval revealing a carpet of neatly kempt chest hair; Agent Dalton’s eyes dart suspiciously around the room – he is all in Milk Tray Man black and seems uneasy; Lazenby, by comparison, appears charmingly affable and Brosnan meets Harry’s gaze with a sardonic smirk. Like Connery, he is in eveningwear but somehow doesn’t quite measure up. It looks like he rented his tux from Burtons.
After a prolonged pause, with only the whirr of the projector breaking the silence, Harry speaks.
Harry: Gentlemen. I’ll skip the pleasantries. You all know why you’re here. Five have been decimated by those BNP troglodytes. I won’t pretend I’m happy that MI6 are loaning me their agents, but until I can recruit a new team I guess I’ll have to live with it. What I do know is that you are the best of the best - Handpicked, licensed to kill and ready to go. I know you’ll do your country proud. Now – the mission…
There is a knock on the door.
Harry: Ah. Right on time. Come.
Door opens and the camera pans up past brutish army boots, desert fatigues, smouldering blue eyes and shortly cropped blond hair. The whole package is the simmering epitome of menace.
Harry: I’d like you all to meet Agent Craig – he’s just been granted his double O status by M. He’s raw, I grant you, but by God he’s good.
Harry: I want you all to know he’ll be running the show.
Connery (incredulous): Chrisht on a bike, Harry! You exshpect a crack unit like ush to report to this pipshqueak? Have you losht your mind?
Moore: My dear fellow, I must concur. My condolences on the loss of your team – I confess I shed a manly tear at dear Ruth’s demise. I remember we once shared a passionate weekend chasing some gunrunners on the Columbian border. Charming woman. A little bookish, but once you got the fire started, she went like the clappers. Never met Jo, but I heard she had a terrific rack…
Harry’s face scrunches up. More so than usual.
Dalton (aside to Moore): Have some respect, Roger – you know Harry and Ruth had that whole drawn-out will-they-won’t-they thing going on. He’s just lost the woman he loves. We don’t all have your devil-may-care attitude to relationships. Female colleagues can be professional too – they don’t just exist so you can get your rocks off in some rustic snow-topped Swiss chalet before jetting off down the mountain on a skidoo pursued by inept evil henchmen with misfiring rifles.
Moore (loudly): Do shut up, Timmy, all this right-on equal opportunities stuff is becoming more than a little tiresome. Besides, just because you once did it with that scrawny cellist does not qualify you to lecture me on the finer points of spy-seduction.
Shall we shag now, or shall we shag later?
Brosnan: Give it a rest, Granddad! You call yourself a stud with your PG-13 closed-lips smooching and one-foot-on-the-floor bedroom antics with Jane Seymour? You can’t claim the secret-agent swordsman bragging rights until you nearly suffocate between the legs of Famke Jackson or make Halle Berry squeal like a stuck pig without even putting down your Walther PPK…
Harry (red of face): Enough, all of you! Your testosterone-fuelled bickering may have worked abroad during the Cold War but this is 21st century Britain. Shape up or get out. Now - if we could get down to business? Agent Craig, why don’t you bring the others up to speed?
Points to image of swarthy terrorist type on the wall.
Craig: Mustapha Hussain. British-born, but attended al-Queda training camps in Afghanistan in 2002. Our intelligence tells us he’s recruited a team of potential suicide bombers from his local mosque and they are poised to launch an attack on the House of Commons any day now. Here’s the plan: We infiltrate the cell at its very source and eliminate Hussain before he can co-ordinate the attack.
Connery (scornful): My poor deluded young boy! Sho wet behind the earsh! Have you learned nothing from your training? Where are the megalomaniac billionairesh with top shecret hideawaysh in dormant volcanoesh? Where are the sexy double agentsh in shlinky ballgownsh who reveal vital cluesh in their beshotted pillow talk? Where are the high shpeed car chases around narrow Alpine paths, the cashinosh and the exshploding cuff-linksh?? Have we even checked if the Russiansh are involved? I know a lovely B & B in St Petersburg…
Lazenby: Now let’s just hear the young man out. We have to remember spying has moved on apace in the last few years. These men we’re up against are no longer eccentric misanthropes bent on world domination – they are young Britons whose heads are filled with bile and religious fervour. They are angry and impressionable and that makes them dangerous…
Moore (patronising): Yes, yes, quite George. Tell you what, why don’t you go and get us some tea – there’s a good chap.
Lazenby smiles and excuses himself.
Moore: Lovely man, but he really doesn’t have a Scooby-doo when it comes to espionage.
Harry: Gentlemen, please! Like it or not, Daniel here is in charge of this operation and I’ll thank you to co-operate…
Brosnan snorts contemptuously and mutters something under his breath
Harry: What was that, Brosnan?
Brosnan: Nothing sir.
Harry: I should hope not. Two words for you, Brosnan: Remington Steel. Add to that a son who’s been on Celebrity Love Island and you’re on pretty thin ice credibility-wise. Now let’s hear the boy out.
Craig: Thankyou sir. Now, here’s how we’ll do it. Connery – you and I are going in undercover. Hussain needs an insider at Westminster. We’ve been chatting to him online and organised a meeting. He thinks we’re disgruntled anti-government activists with an axe to grind. We isolate him and his lieutenants at a remote farmhouse location and take them down.
Connery: At leasht let me fly in on a jet-pack and make the kill using a poishonoush dart dishguished as a biro…