The 007th Chapter: GoldenEye

#1

It’s a new world.

With new enemies, and new threats.

But you can still rely on one man.

Spoon. Ken Spoon.

You were expecting someone else?

Really ? Still? Why? Ruddy imbecile.

Ah, GoldenEye, that seventeenth dew-dappled dawn, that seventeenth fresh take on Bond, that seventeenth whirl around “pushing it in a new direction”, that seventeenth “which didn’t happen, again”. At the time, one wondered agape, agog and aggly-maggly-moo at the strategy of launching a (seventeenth) mint-crisp vision of Bond novelised (pfft) by a writer whose vision of 007 had developed cataracts; not just out of steam but boiled bone dry. Whether SeaFire was contemptuous or simply exhausted is open to debate (make it short) but having the same venture support (ostensibly) opposed attitudes to James Bond struck one as right dead weird.

Janus, indeed.

GoldenEye. You were the future too, once.

Just the once.

“Writing” this windy piffle now, with GoldenEye closer in time to Diamonds are Forever than to any current relevance, its patina of newness much-chipped, it’s just yet more Bond film. A less original one than many, its novelties being bog all happening until a rushed end, desperate riffs on previous (better) Bond things whilst pretending to be high-mindedly distant from them, much sedentary chat, something-something-Russia-something, a traitor, a tendency to pad out, a suspect relationship with history (particularly World War II), a startling lack of sense to the villain’s scheme, a now-overtaken-by-events plot (Russia doesn’t need EMPs to disrupt; a “14.4 modem”, “internet!” and an obese orange cretin seem enough), up-to-out-of-date technology, an inert romance, clodhopping nods to a changed (espion-) age and thumped-in gender politics. There’s also a scene with a sandwich. Given what we’d been subjected to with his “Bond”, having Mr Gardner adapt it wasn’t inexplicable: it had to be. No-one else’s take could embrace such a moribund repertoire. As hoodwinked as we had been into (initially) accepting that what was written at us from 1981 was “James Bond”, in our hive-mind glee that there was a new 007 cross-media promotion thrust our way, we fell for another trick, that the film was putting Bond back on track. Although, fair enough, film’s on the same track Bond had been for years, cabbaging along until it runs out of puff completely.

Not the only thing to do so. Hi.

One hears that there was an electrical videogame of GoldenEye. Doubtless splendid for those keen on living a non-life, but those things I find baffling and I didn’t - or couldn’t - or wouldn’t - or shouldn’t - engage, being older than ten. It appears it lured new enthusiasts into Bond. No bad thing: 007 always was a Jet Set Willy. I might have been tempted had it been an echt Goldeneye gaming experience. Level 1: put on Sea Island cotton shirt, masticate eggs, get pissed. Level 2: sniff the hibiscus and expectorate brackish lungjuice over a hummingbird, get pissed. Level 3: bash out three thousand words of juvenile provocative claptrap (side task: nick something and pass it off stylishly as one’s own), get pissed. Extra life (but not that much) awarded if you give The Hun a thump. Level 4: lunch (liquid). Level 5: have a snorkel about, for a bit, listlessly. Level 6: get depressed (and pissed). Contemplate the Negroman / Koreanman / Gerrrrman / Chinaman and his deviant ways. Level 7: count up today’s burst nasal capillaries. Level 8: argue with wife, ignore child, knob neighbour; review morning’s output and change character names to those of real persons / races you absolutely must listlessly bully this time around. Level 9: smoke sixty cigarettes (timed level). Level 10: all round to Noel’s for drinks. Extra life awarded if you reach end of level unpansified. Level 11: read letters from doctor, publisher and TV producer. Can you avoid the disillusionment and self-hatred? Level 12: fight to suppress the demonic perception that whatever your success, your older brother remains more critically revered. Level 13: can you defeat the iron crab and stay alive long enough to see it all become massive? (No; level is deliberately impossible). You’ll never know how it feels to get so close and be denied. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what you will know. Level 14: ectually be satisfied (level cannot be unlocked).

In the spirit of both extrusions of The Bond Jesus That Is GoldenEye that I own (“film” and “book”), as a reboot-o-vision of this 007th Chapter pish, one adopted to disguise an enterprise past its best (apt) and because the novelisation is slender, ceremonially - throw petals, ye - I shall tear the cellophane from m’Blu-Ray of GoldenEye (imprisoning completism, not liberating taste, demanded acquisition) and consider respective chapters. There are nineteen in the book; thirty-two in the film. Yikes on bikes. What this means is I have to watch all of GoldenEye, which I can’t have done for twenty years, and read the book, which I can’t recall doing at all. This is not simply a pretext for competitively-priced sneering at the valiant performance choices of The Actor Pierce Brosnan.

Much.

Let me make myself comfortable and settle down for an afternoon’s light entertainment. Once I’ve done that and wiped clean, I suppose I’ll have to “do” GoldenEye. You go off and enjoy yourself whilst I don’t. This might be self-neglect.

[Time…passes. Slowly. You’ll never know the days, the nights, the tears, the tears I’ve cried].

Anyone know how to refix cellophane?

OK, let’s do GoldenEye! The grimmest come-hither since a Don at m’College, a gentleman of the American or Canadian persuasion (some Colonial backwater, anyway), approached me with the phrase “Let’s go inside, and coincide”. I mean, quite . True, as a gilded youth (more burnt offering, tbh) I was possessed of a posterior that would have made Hadrian weep, although as I age it has let me down so very terribly as of late. In the mood for being let down so very terribly as of right now? OK, let’s do GoldenEye!

The 007th Chapter – GoldenEye: Every single stinking sodding second.

Unlike Licence to Kill, no foreword. One suspects that Mr Gardner could not muster for his task even the backhanded compliments expressed in his earlier “novelisation” (yucky-bum). A suspicion that the later Ken Spoon novels do little to suppress.

One could - should? - approach GoldenEye Da Bewk as a stand-alone, in a bubble of its own. Like any bubble, it only takes a prick to… um… pierce it. Warned you it would get cheap. This pocket universe angle may be the only way to accept it without worrying about M suddenly being a lady here and equally suddenly unpicking all his stitches for COLD. What’s curious is that the film falls over itself to strap onto its predecessors, otherwise its podge-fisted milky subversion (about five lines’ worth, tops) would have no target and stuff like the DB5 no context. Perhaps that’s it: this novelisation is not to be connected to the books, rather a written emanation only connected to the films. Unlike Licence to Kill, which gave Leiter a second nibble and referenced other literary happenings, Book Bond doesn’t appear here (cue the observation that he’s absent for most Gardners anyway) and GoldenEye stands as the subtlest of soft launches for an imminent series of, if neither credible nor satisfactory as novels, then let’s call them “typed-up Bonds” reliant on the films for oxygen, or necessity. One reconciles one’s self to the imminent arrival of Raymond Benson, thus.

Cowslip – 1986

We’re not in a hotel room, proof enough that this book is not connected to its literary contemporaries. Bond wakes from a deep sleep, which might be an amusing metaphor for where the film series had been, save that this episode is expressly set in 1986 when the Bond series was about to get a series-preserving shot in the arm by casting a new actor to secure its future. A series otherwise produced, written, directed, titled, scored, designed and edited by the same old lot who had been complacently churning out stuff since the dawn of time and couldn’t see that if the extent of their effort was to hire one different man to deliver lines in an embarrassed manner, such inertia was doomed as future-proofing.

Some assert that placing the GoldenEye opening in 1986 rather than – say – 1991, where it would work equally “well”, is deliberate retconning of this Brosnan into a time prior to Mr Dalt-Ton’s tenure, wiping the slate clear of the latter. No. The proposition is utter catflap. The incidents about to play out render Bond a bit miserable, five-minute call Mr Dalt-Ton, and the book opens with Bond having a lovely mid-morning nap, poor old soul, so this is patently Moore Bond.

“The spotter plane was over sixty years old… captured at Stalingrad from Hitler’s Luftwaffe.” As opposed to William Shatner’s Luftwaffe. What the ‘plane could spot, as can we, is Bond sitting on a hill, overlooking a lake and dam, whilst a couple of pages of solid, dense Gardnerprose about chemical weapons and plentiful abbreviations splay themselves before us. Why did they never film his stuff? Here’s why. Open a film like this and everyone’ll be throwing themselves off that dam. In passing, though, there is explanation of the geography which renders marginally more convincing that the chemical plant is near another very deep gorge which might (might) explain how Film Bond is subsequently able to ride a motorcycle into it. “The journey from Archangel to the processing plant took almost twenty-four hours – a day of intense discomfort”. Replicated by waiting for something to happen here. Amusing detail that Bond arrived here by HALO jump (deleted scene?) and Trevelyan, “his old friend” (never before mentioned, so probably the villain but I hope not because it’s a ghastly cliché), was “inserted” into Archangel for this “two-handed job”. Intense discomfort, indeed. M is currently played by A Man. “There’s many a slip twist cow and lip, he thought, his smile broadening.” Uh? Get on with it.

Chewy paragraph describing Bond’s coat with all its pockets that could only be written at us by one man, fills space, and informs us that Bond’s gloves “kept out the cold” – they’re gloves, this is all one can really ask of them – “without reducing his ability to use his fingers for the most delicate of tasks”. It has already been said that insertion is a two-handed job, so that’s handy. At least we know he’s well wrapped-up; even a slight chill at his advanced age could be deadly.

Bond shoots the guards at the top of the damn in the slowest gunfight in recorded history, interrupting it halfway through to contemplate for several thousand words the operation of the “Glasers”. “With Glasers you only needed one.” There are several Manchester United enthusiasts who agree. This is a graphic scene, unnecessarily protracted in its violence, and one can see why it did not make the finished film. That, and being very boring.

“He heard the whine of the metal from the far end of the cage, looked out and saw that the way onto the wide top of the damn was clear. Taking a deep breath he began to sprint forward.” Which is where we join the film. Nothing of this first chapter save for this last paragraph is otherwise delivered, explained or used in the film itself. Is any of it missed?

No.

By default, one nil to the book. But only just. A literal definition of “better than nothing”, but it’s close.

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#2

Mission Accomplished

Takes a page and a half to chuck himself off (fnarr), but then he is very old and needs, apparently, to contemplate how well bedded into the dam the railing he is tied to, will be. Can’t be too careful. “Then, expelling his breath in a loud whaaa sound” – it is The Actor Pierce Brosnan after all, sharing with us his Strangulation Cumface – “James Bond launched himself from the top of the dam.”

“Bond’s stomach was still up on the top of the dam as he plunged downwards.” Along with his comfort bag. Has an awfully long time to contemplate things whilst plummeting: plummeting appears lasts two pages, plummet-fact fans. Are all James Bond films like this, Daddy? I’m bored . “…he reached up to free his foot from the loop and the bungee shot back up the dam wall, flying upwards like a long fast-moving snake.” …that can fly. Christ, the buggers are airborne now. Still, this does make one wonder, from the film, what happens to Bond’s bungee cord? Someone’s bound to spot it, even from a ‘plane nicked from Joan Collins’ Luftwaffe.

Film has Bond use a product-placed watch to laser his way in. John’s not falling for that: here, Trevelyan has cut a hole for Bond, and Bond takes best advantage of Trevelyan’s entrance. Bond goes down Trevelyan’s hole and this leaves “a musty damp smell in his nostrils”. Et cetera. “After what seemed to be ten or fifteen minutes and hundreds of metal rungs…” which are all lovingly described. Film’s been going about two minutes so far. “A floor? Or was it a ledge from which he could easily fall into some bottomless pit?” It’s a floor. Stop mucking about. Still – he’s done a HALO jump, then jumped off a dam, now he’s gone yet further down and in due course he will flying down into a gorge. At some point he will reach the Earth’s core, or at least pass a few fellow dinosaurs.

“It turned out to be a long haul…” Oh look, three people have left the cinema already. However, on reflection, this may be John trying to rescue (or take the mickey out of) the otherwise perplexing demonstration of the geography of the chemical plant, by sending Bond up and down and in and out to such an extent that one’s head is left spinning and open to the suggestion that it might well be a) below a dam but b) on top of a massive cliff nonetheless.

John misses two big tricks here. Firstly, the film has “James Bond” assault a soldier whilst the man is having a pooh-pooh, a curious introduction but ably setting the tone for the next seven years. Spared, though, two pages of description of what the man had for dinner the previous evening, or the intricacies of the flush mechanism. Secondly, and most remiss of him, nowhere does Mr Gardner write “Bond knew his hair was particularly bouffant that day and this rendered all the more enjoyable his startling mince down a staircase.”

“He could smell the scent of blood and death.” Well, it masks the scent of pooh-pooh, y’know.

Oh look, here’s “his old friend” Alec Trevelyan, so old a friend and so familiar to all of us, of course, that a basic physical description would be padding, even for this author. Gives us page after page about Bond’s coat, but not the face, height, weight, colour even of his lovely chum. Can’t waste time on such things when there’s a long, deathly paragraph to deliver, telling us all about some unlocking device Q has devised. In the film, this thing just works; do we need to know how? It’s a beepy-bloop thing. That’s all it needs to be.

“You ready, James?” “Let’s do it.” “You come up this way?” Given Mr Gardner’s obsession with hotel rooms, it’s surprising he hasn’t found one for these boys. We are spared, however, all that puke about “For England”, which always struck one as oddly specific, regardless of it being dialogue delivered by an Irish-American playing a Scotsman through the medium of monotonous hoarse groaning, and Sean Bean playing… whatever it is, no-one in England talks like that, unless they’re had a stroke. Messrs. Coltrane and Cumming do no better and one wonders whether the preposterous accent thing going on in GoldenEye was for a bet. The Actor Pierce Brosnan must have won as he’s kept it going for years. Even “sings” like that. How do we make him stop?

“By this time, Bond was completely disoriented. He had no idea of his position in relation to the ground above.” Nor me, to anything happening swiftly.

“I played at being a kind of phantom of the labs so to speak. The music of the night down here isn’t really my thing though.” Youthful Mr Trevelyan – the eternal schoolboy – has detailed knowledge of musical theatre, and his friend James manhandles men in toilets. 12 certificate, you say? On and on they bang, these undercover agents, chattering away whilst they spend paragraphs doing something-or-other. The film decides to precis all of that with the “half of everything is luck / fate” thing, which makes no sense as neither half of the lovely glass of Sancerre I’ve just helped myself to exhibited either quality, nor does my radiator and nor does my doggy. “Half of a few specific things are luck / fate”, then. “Alec, put that bit of high-tech gadgetry into reverse. Just hit the switch on the left side.” A) classic Gardner dire-logue, no-one talks like that: are we sure this is a bubble? and B) bet that’s not the first time Bond’s given Trevelyan that instruction. “His old friend 006, Alec Trevelyan, knelt on the floor”. Bet that’s not the first time… Et cetera. By now we have been told that Trevelyan is his “old friend” and “006” multiple times (by page 18) but we still don’t know what he looks like. Presumably he hadn’t been cast but the “eternal schoolboy” and Dorian Gray references (it’s Gardner, there has to be a clunking literary allusion, even more clumsy than usual as the book mis-spells it as “Grey”) suggests that they were at least beyond the statutory “Anthony Hopkins?” question by the point John was given a lunchtime to hammer this out.

I wonder if it was ever mooted that Bond’s chum here wasn’t some new character no-one had ever heard of, but Felix Leiter? That would have added something of substance to Bond’s attitude to the man and the betrayal (this infiltration thing could have been a joint operation… I’m overthinking this) and the emotional and sexual tension between the two would be wholly in keeping with their relationship since first meeting.

Given how slowly the book has moved to here, and how relatively swift it is in the film, quick cottaging incident aside, notable that the timers in the book are initially set for three minutes, then to one, whereas it’s six down to three in the film. I suppose even what happens in the film would take more than one minute, but if Mr Gardner thinks that from here to the end of the chapter is a record of the events of sixty seconds and not, as it feels, a fortnight, he’s being most mischievous.

Film has Bond hide behind a cage whereas in the book he is much bolder and activates a grenade from one of his multiple pouches, and Trevelyan getting shot provokes him to hurl it. One can see why the film went a different route: it would have been a ridiculous blooper to suggest that Bond would have been able to perform the bungee jump weighed down with the junk Gardner has him carry and not, say, just plummet (slowly, over several hundred words) straight into the ground. The suggestion is that it is the grenade that sets off the chain reaction about to render everything all so very Crimson! Fireball! Even though he doesn’t use those words, oddly. Still, it’s not part of the Gardner series, apparently, so he doesn’t have to.

If you were new to Bond in 1995, many sprogs were, and, thrilled by the exciting colours and comedy voices of the film, you decided to give Book Bond a go and picked up this written version of your latest Best Film Ever, would you have persisted? If you had read this book first, would you have sought out the film at all?

Significant departures now, the book rounding off the chapter by Bond stealing the ‘plane but at no point does James Bond of 1986 ride a motorbike from the manufacturer’s 1994 product catalogue off a cliff that previously wasn’t there. That sentence reads as a philosophical problem, and one that The Actor Pierce Brosnan might have contemplated whilst he was rather too obviously getting his hair cut in between jumping onto the conveyor belt and jumping off it. In the book, Bond struggles with the ‘plane and it goes off the edge of the drop into the aforementioned gorge, not too dissimilar, but whilst the film spends its special effects budget of however many millions of dollars on a lovely shot of the motorbike and Bond plunging after it, and several less lovely ones of some dodgy back projection, the book’s special effects budget of however many millions of words has the dam burst and flood the valley. If filmed, that could have been spectacular, but insofar as the film’s effects can’t make Bond’s umpteenth plummet of the day look good, and water is tricky to get right, better that they waited until Die Another Day to create convincingly majestic waves.

Book Bond is considerably less affected by Trevelyan’s death, which considering their long-standing friendship, about which we have been told if not seen, and sexual relationship, about which we have been told if not seen, seems harsh. The Actor Pierce Brosnan went all wibbly emoto-face for a minute back there, although that might be his having remembered he was about to have his hair cut. One sympathises: I hate going to the barber. Having to converse with one of the serving class whilst they brandish scissors presents many threats to my psychological wellbeing.

Curious end to the chapter, though: “On reflection, the one thing that pleased him was that there had been no biological or chemical weapons in the complex… So, he presumed M had already known there was little likelihood of deadly germs or toxic chemicals at the plant.” That justified wasting my time reading all about chemical weaponry over several deathly paragraphs, did it? How far distant is this really from “classic” Gardner, if there is such a thing, in its frustratingly redundant detail-flab? I suppose it covers a qualm about blowing the place up. Fits the Gardner M to send Bond on a useless mission and opportunity for pointless death, the nasty weasel. Film has no such concerns: up it blows and then doesn’t bother to explain how anyone who – duhduhDUUUUUUH – reappears nine years later made it out without being gassed. Or survived being shot in the head. There would be a pervasive toxic stink everywhere, too, but this dispersed once they rebooted.

“There was no way he could know that, in less than a decade, Colonel Ourumov would rise from the dead to become a thorn in his side and place him in even greater danger”. Zombie thorns, eh? Sounds exciting (therefore won’t happen). Does Ourumov actually do this? I thought he was shot almost off-screen and thereafter never mentioned again, despite James Bond killing a Russian General on Russian soil. Should lead to a short enquiry / a smidgelet of war. Nothing comes of this, nor the deaths of many soldiers and the stealthy demolition of St Petersburg with a tank. It is Bond who places Ourumov in danger, not the other way around. Film doesn’t bother “killing” Ourumov at this point, leaving him with his tremendously kindly face doused in bafflement at Bond’s escape, the ability to get a haircut mid-escape and how there could be a cliff edge underneath a dam and why he’d never noticed it before. He probably hadn’t read the book. Wonder how many did. Or could.

Film gets through all this with marginally better dialogue and stunts, so that’s one all.

For reasons of space and nothing else, the book does not describe the title sequence, although it’s a relief because otherwise we would be told at tedious length about the circuit boards of the “micros” in which it was hewn. The song is ground out by one Tina Turner, a cutting-edge artiste born in 1939, accompanied by a toy synthesiser and a thunderingly underalluring Reminder-o’-Binder* 1995-quality pixelblat that has aged as well as I have and is grit-of-jaw determined to drag depicting “a golden eye” to a dark, dark place far, far beyond literal. One can only imagine a similar take on Octopussy. Only imagine it though, lest incarceration beckon. I recall that at one point during the promotional “pop video” (are they still called that?), Ms Bullock wobbles her mandible in a homage to The Piers Brosmum Strangulation Cumface. Quite when she may have witnessed The Piers Brosmum Strangulation Cumface is a matter only for defamatory conjecture, although she might have seen Death Train (alone in that) or his career high in Mrs Doubtfire when The Actor Purse Blimblom gives this generation’s definitive reading of the challenging role of Man who has fruit hurled at his head by a depressed tranny.

*yes, I know it probably rhymes with Pinder rather than minder. Please just cope , yeah?

Song, such as it is, shoved our way by a recipient of horrendous domestic abuse clanging on about stalking someone, ends with an old lady growling “Whither GoldenEye”. Whither GoldenEye?, indeed. The oft-proclaimed saviour of the series (although saving it from what, other than its complacent redundancy?), its legacy in continuing film Bond has spaffed 8 films to date, including its merry self, of which two are jolly good, two more are entertaining enough and four are pathetic. It’s also arguably complicit in generating the fictional works of a Raymond Benson. Strike rate like that and one ponders whether it was worth it (other than for $$$, obvs.). Still, we weren’t to know this in 1995 (although anyone demented enough to expose their soul to the back catalogue of The Actor Peershe Brusnon might have guessed, and could have done the decent thing and warned us), off our collective noddle as we were on the prospect of “new Bond film”, that self-selected trap into which we skip every few years, habitually emerging with exploitable expectations defiled yet again.

1995… Over half my lifetime ago. Lord, as if GoldenEye isn’t depressing enough, there’s that too.

High Stakes

“Now, in the early summer of 1995…” Now, in the early summer of 1995, Bond is about eighty and an incredibly sour old measle, decrying the state of the South of France. Might be true to Gardner, might even be true to Fleming, but not the film, with The Actor Pierce Brosnan’s Bond having a gay old time in his lovely cravat and looking pleased he’s there. Other than mad, moist spinsters trying out lipids as a lifestyle solution, he’s amongst few who are. Fair do’s, if they’d put what is written here onto film, it’d be awful watching such a deliquescent lead character suck the joy out of things. You’ll have to wait for Spectre for that. I know sanctimonious misery at a glance; I permit reflective surfaces in my house. I suppose the film people had to be nice to the locality otherwise they would never have been allowed to go there. Beginning to see why the decision was made to go for Mr Benson’s “Isn’t Bond brilliant!!!” approach, though. Sell far more watches and teatowels, that way.

On the basis the literary Bond never got his blood-soaked mitts on a DB5, this is not he. There is a DB3 that’s been parked a few miles from Geneva since the late 1950s, mind, although the tyres and battery will be flat by now, I’d wager. This car is “as much of a thoroughbred as the beautiful Caroline who sat beside him.” Although physical descriptions have been scant so far, this one triggers spot-on casting: the actor is perhaps a touch horsey? “Speed, my dear Caroline, is one of the few true aphrodisiacs left to mankind.” Can see why this wasn’t in the film; can’t have James Bond endorsing amphetamines, however much I agree with him.

“… a bright yellow Ferrari 355…” I suppose the film went with whatever was kicking around on the day (and my motoring correspondent, Mrs Jim, describes non-red Ferraris in visceral terms one would rarely hear outside the fo’c’sle of a Whaler). “But from here she has good lines, and she’s certainly shaking her tail at us.” Oh look, another five people have walked out. For all his technical spoddery, it’s odd that Mr Gardner is shy to tell us that a Ferrari 355 would leave a poor old Aston DB5 for dust, due to something something engine sprocket valve piston (I’ve no idea what I am writing; I recognise I have joined the club late). “ ‘Ladies first.’ He tried to make it sound amusing, failing miserably.” Film and book as one, at last. No mention of the cravat, however, which seems a wasted opportunity as Mr Gardner could have delivered unto us at least a thousand words all about the best knots for the optimum opportunity to look butch.

Tour bus rather than cyclists as the hurtled-towards aside, this is all close to what occurs in the film, including the final shot over Monaco which reads as a weird non-sequitur on the page. But, ‘tis Gardner.

“That was the trouble with some women, even in these days of liberation and equality. You still got clingers now and again…” Go on, get this Brosnan bloke to say that. No? Cowards. I just want to hear him say the word “clingers”. Major missed opp. “Bond was not a great fan of the media either, particularly now that the Secret Intelligence Service appeared to have ditched the word secret.” You’ll like them even less if you change your hair colour; just you wait. All that well-meaning, sun-filled chitter-chatter about Mr Craig’s hair and yet the hair here (if the “right” colour) is wild. The body is so thin and the head so top-heavy, this Brosnan resembles a troll pencil-topper, or a lollipop that’s been rolling around the back seat of the car for a week, gathering dog moult and crumbs.

“…and the smoothness of her hair which had a depth of texture to it that reminded him of a bolt of sheer silk.” Meanwhile, whatever’s going on on top of The Actor Pierce Brosnan is a different shape entirely to its appearance when he was driving about. It’s giving a very multi-layered performance, of significant breadth and depth.

“…she certainly looked like the proverbial million dollars.” In 1995 terms, about £7.50. Her “gypsy” look is remarked upon a couple of times, suggesting she will shortly be trying to sell Bond some tarmac or a packet of dishcloths. The card game with Xenia behaves itself on the page in being close enough to what’s on screen to speculate how far into, and at what stage in, the production process this novelisation was being typed out. Close, but no cigar – literally, and presumably that affectation was an artistic flourish of director and actor in due course. “Her stride reminded him of a cat.” That and the furball she coughed up in response to his clumsy attempts at seduction. The bit about the Georgian accent all plays through, with the response “You’re a veritable Professor Higgins.” Sings a bit like Rex Harrison, too. The business about the registration plates starting with L still chimes oddly – I thought French plates of that era ended with the numerical regional code. Curious that Mr Gardner doesn’t correct this. Unless it’s his fault.

The only male character to get any substantial description so far is Admiral Thingy and he is described as possessing “the leathery, tanned and windblown face which women find attractive”. Must be a hell of a good photo in Spotlight, because – and I’m sure he’s a super chap and kind to chickens – the actor on screen isn’t quite there, for me; not getting the feels, although that might be because the wife’s out. However, it’s not as if the Bond films ever previously stuck to what was shoved onto a page, so let’s call that upholding a noble if dodgy tradition in line with the hopeless mis-casting over the years of Dr No, Tiffany Case, Felix Leiter and James Bond.

“There was definitely something wrong about the woman” – a page earlier he took a wild guess, based on absolutely damn all, that she was ex-KGB – “…he had a nasty feeling that lives could be at stake.” At least we’re getting a motivation for Bond to be stalking Xenia; the film leaves us making do with Mr Brosnan’s pained expression to suggest suspicion; at least, that might be what he’s doing. Puts too much faith in the viewer to grasp the significance of his gurny-frown, tbh. As far as the film goes, the only suspicious thing is this business about the licence plate and I’m still not convinced that’s right. Given that all this is very similar between book and film, save for the character in the book being a terrible man, and Bond’s crassly unsubtle and failed one-liners come across similarly in both media, it’s a no-score draw.

If one had never seen Bond before, what would one make of this?

James Bond will return in the next part of this nonsense, in which such pleasures await as “a white trail of foam”, Tub o’Lard, “sensual edible oils sold as sexual aids” and a big chopper. Probably some more stuff about hair, too.

You’ll never know how Jacques Stewart watched you from the shadows as a child. Still does. Go on; wear tighter things. On the wind, you feel his wind. You’ll never know, what it means to get so close and be denied. Unless you’ve been reading anything by John Gardner with the words “James Bond” on the cover. You’ll never know the days, the nights, the tears, the tears you’ve cried. Unless you’ve been reading anything by John Gardner with…

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#3

Brilliant.

'Bin a long time. Thought these gems might have dried up. Thanking you that they haven’t.

#4

The Spider and the Admiral

A grumpy sneer (arguably Flemingesque) at the “instamatic, Doctor Scholl-sandled tourists” aside – John, poppet, we cover production costs by selling cameras and shoes, not mocking them – the curious filler scene in the film where Bond walks past a mime but neglects to murder it, is also a filler scene in the book. Both iterations exude atmosphere, though (one of few occasions when GoldenEye’s tin-eared score helps). “He stood looking down on the harbour… a large pair of night glasses glued to his eyes.” A challenging eveningwear statement, but ouch nonetheless. Equally ouch in the protracted technicals of whatever and thing. Film goes straight for using a camera, rather than a camera in at-length-described disguise; more efficient. Admiral Whassface now “looked incredibly like the long ago murdered Czar Nicholas”; still not seeing it in the casting, unless it’s how he appeared post-murder. Looks more like Edward VII to me (and that’s a terribly clever observation. No, it is ).

Very much filmed as is, with Bond noticing the helicopter which “…in silhouette looked dark” – that’s silhouettes for yer; reliable, that way. “If you cannot recall something immediately, it is probably not worth remembering anyway.” A neat way of avoiding referencing his own series, in which the life of GirlFriend hangs in the balance (the balance being whether we’re interested or not (I’m not)), but if that something is “writing James Bond”, it’s not the most praiseworthy philosophy.

“The launch, leaving a white trail of foam behind it…” Foreshadowing through imagery; they’re not off to play cribbage. I sense filth in the offing. Super-duper.

Instead of sitting in the car in the car park, Bond drives off to sit in the car elsewhere for “the best possible reception”, and the best possible use of extra words, but the worst possible use of screen time and another night-time location shoot and filming permit to negotiate and supporting artistes to wrangle and perplexing hair to comb, all of which come at cost, so the film doesn’t bother. In Role of Honour Mr Gardner wrote with engaging authority about the South of France, one of the rare but very welcome occasions when his sense of place is not itself displaced with abbreviations and traitors and turgid mechanical claptrap, so he’s getting his money’s worth out of that trip by reheating it here: warming-through past glory being so very GoldenEye. The machine-fetishism is not entirely absent - apparently the DB5 has eight speakers, seems unlikely - but one forgets this is no documentary, despite Mr Gardner implicating the Admiral in the Tailhook affair, because… he can? There seems to be a “Rear Admiral” joke missing, which is just as well as it’s not very good. In the film he’s Canadian rather than US Navy and another joke about “Mounties” and “Yank off, then” springs to mind, but again it’s too weak to live.

Why is Bond in the South of France, anyway? Is this how workplace appraisals are conducted by the new M? Was he on holiday and Thingy turned up unexpectedly, like a doping agency come to sniff one’s wee? Most profligate, contradicting this M’s reputation for soulless accountancy. No, we won’t meet in Breakout Space B; we’ll go to, I dunno, The Moon. It’s tax deductible. I accept that it’s no more ludicrous than, say, Thunderball to have Bond just amazingly in the right place at the right time, but there’s an explanation for being at Shrublands, even in the film, whereas here it is awfully, awfully convenient that HR procedures occur precisely where and when a bawdy Russian is about to very-bad-thing do.

On that…

“The main stateroom of Manticore was overtly designed for physical pleasure.” The main stateroom of Manticore was overtly designed by Mr Lamont as the inside of a Travelodge. One up to the book, without doubt. Talking of things being up… “…colourful bottles full of brand name oils and unguents…” such a Gardner word, bless his diodes “…including those sensual edible oils sold as sexual aids…” OK, John, we get the picture, you can leave it there…

…Oh dear God, he hasn’t left it there… “…the ones that come in various flavours which enable partners to lick them from each other’s bodies.” One wonders about the depths of Mr Gardner’s research into matters under description; also whether these come in Salt ‘n’ Vinegar. Extra Virgin is unlikely. Best avoid groundnut oil, lest it trigger anaphylactic shock, although that’s a similar sensation to reading the next page. One apologises to that Raymond Benson for accusations of his misunderstanding the yearning-look-don’t-touch of Bond with his lurid conjugal visits; Mr Gardner most assuredly came first, firing off all over the show with the “ultimate pinnacle of your sexual dreams”, “rousing him almost to a frenzy”, and “left with a sense that he owed her a great sexual experience”, by which I assume that won’t be a visit to Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum and a bag of Skips. “She had slowly undressed for him… with the flair and professionalism of a ballerina.” Not any ballet I’ve ever sat through, although I’m usually asleep by first flounce (technical term). Perhaps I should pay attention, especially if ballet is “…straddling his body and riding him, goading him onwards until their sweat mingled and he was completely at her mercy.” Nutcracker, evidently.

“He cried out as he reached his summit for the third time in two hours…” His summit ? Although the film does suggest Xenia’s “own final and conclusive orgasm” – yes dear, the pretty lady is just happy that it’s bedtime, that’s all – this is both hilarious and oddly satisfying that, after all, Mr Gardner can write with enthusiasm and momentum about anything other than the innards of a photocopier. “A secret weapon like a spider who consumes its mate after the sex act.” You’ll be wanting the Pickled Onion oil for that, m’love. “She swayed to and fro, still rubbing herself against his corpse, moaning and supremely satisfied in her moment of glory.” Is this what Bond meant when he referred to some women as “clingers”? Do hope so. Dear Santa, I have just saw an exciting film on ITV4, they showed it during my teatime. May I have the book for Christmas? Thank you. Willy (aged seven-and-a-quarter). We are now buttered-up, oiled-up, prepared for the impact of the relentlessly seedy sextravagant pornucopia to be waggled our way by the next writer along, and we haven’t even yet reached Anagram-in-Chief Alan Cumming.

A jawdropping work of (relatively) staggering filthiness, to have this poked at us midst a plod of a chuck-it-out narrative, especially unexpected given the onslaught of clumfumble sex in previous Gardners, it’s perversely glorious. That it is so out of sync with his overwrought, over-syllabled couplings of books past confirms this is nothing to do with Mr Gardner’s other Bonds but it is weird to have his most enjoyable park-du-porc in a cash-in novelisation. Perhaps he didn’t have time to consult his thesaurus over the weekend he flicked this one out, and no bad thing. Coming across this here, not literally as it’s a first edition and all that’s being left to the offspring because I’m spending the rest, makes the film look chaste, staid. They definitely missed a trick in not marketing GoldenEye grunt unguents – grunguents – off the back of it. Off the back, the front, various places underneath. I wonder how much was left on the cutting room floor, along with bits of the Admiral. I demand to be told. It isn’t on the deleted scenes and I feel shortchanged. As well as amused, and slightly ill.

“A familiar figure stood in the doorway…” Because the male characters have thus far benefited from nil description, save for this dead sailor of whom we possess surprisingly intimate knowledge, this figure is not one familiar to us. Considering what’s just occurred, one wonders about “…rocked her as one will lull a child into comfort or sleep.” Adds to the delicious wrongness, somehow. Never abundantly clear in either film or book whether this is Ourumov or Trevelyan or some other person. I know Ourumov later turns up in the helicopter but it surely it’s somewhere on a risk scale for a Russian General, however well-bearded (and Xenia would be a spectacular beard), to dress up as the US Navy’s horniest Canadian Admiral. Russian General pretends to be “North American” Admiral who looks like a Russian Tsar and/or British Monarch. No, come on, this book’s awesome .

The Manticore - man-eater, how droll - had the head of a human, a lion’s body and a tail full of poisonous spines, eating victims whole. Reader, I married her. Pity we must disembark Hot Yacht and trouble ourselves once more with Dr Tedious. That James Bond, he’s right wicked and down wiv da kids. So far he’s had a natty coat of many pockets, a smashing cravat and a pullover knitted by his gran, a dinner jacket and, within the next few paragraphs, a blazer, “slacks” and espadrilles. I know bits of the film half-heartedly poke at Bond being anachronistic but John seems to have seized this idea and run with it, cackling wildly that at last the undermining he’s been tickling us with since Licence Renewed, that Bond is a redundant joke, has ironically matured into such richly sour fruit at the optimum moment, the grand relaunch. Hey there, kids of the mid-1990s! Put down those Pogs, they’re saaa-aaa-aad, here’s your latest craze right here, this middle-aged fussy bachelor in his sports casual summer yachting garb! Cowabunga! Riot grrrl! Smells like teen spirit! Smells like embrocation, anyway.

Having been 22 in 1995, I suppose I was at my prime of being targeted by phenomena cultural, that age seeming to be the key target audience for most stuff, sufficiently independently incomed to be pliantly handing over money, sufficiently inexperienced not to realise most stuff’s not worth buying and sufficiently lithe to make clothing worth the effort of putting on (that talent of mine I do miss, although my neighbours miss it more, especially on bins day). As it happened, 1995 largely passed me by, occupied by marriage, work and babies, although that last one might have been rabies or scabies (little discernible difference). Accordingly, and not just to live the dream of being Mr Gardner by filling space with digressive “research”, one turns to the internet to learn of the year’s key contributions. Ah, 1995, killer of Harold Wilson, Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Fred West, birther of Logan Paul, Kendall Jenner and the Miss Ukraine pageant (a fair swap). 1995, a year in which a Michael Jackson apparently had two Number 1s (and, when the rozzers subsequently came a-knocking, a spectacular Number 2). 1995, when GoldenEye was the top film in the UK for two whole weeks, equally the tenancy of To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar; one week in the USA, pacing itself nicely alongside Congo and Tommy Boy (whatever that is).

Well, that all sounds perfectly dreadful.

Consider the success in getting, in 1995, such a ploddy old measle, a post-colonial throwback even when one’s Granddaddy was a nipper, back into the public consciousness, and with more than acceptance; actual renewed enthusiasm. That they have strongly maintained it since, enhanced it and taken it to yet greater success, speaks volumes of determination / zealotry and fundamentalism on the part of the film producers to try to get it right, especially the nerve - the temerity – to make initially unpopular decisions. Tends to put anonymous whining about the next film not being revealed unto us RIGHT NOW in its proper place. Those product placements and cross-media marketing opportunities don’t negotiate themselves, y’know.

The film cuts straight from Xenia, in ecstasy, to a spray of white foam - mm- hm – but in the book we’re going to join Bond for his breakfast in his little villa along the coast. Not a scene filmed and anyone demanding that at some point we should see this timewasting staple of the novels is evidently off their plop. Sit-ups and push ups and coffee in an earthenware jug and Cooper’s Vintage Marmalade and boiled eggs and specific butter and Christ make it stop and look, another five people have left; bet they try to sneak into the Ace Ventura sequel. “He sat for a full hour after eating”. All go, isn’t he? Buy this wristwatch. Poor old sod’s probably a bit egg-bound. Needs a nice sit down. Can’t go charging around too much or his coccyx will burst, or something. Buy this BMW. I accept that the chapter needed to calm down after that demented rutting, but this is daftness in the other direction. To have the one character who sucks out the momentum be the leading man is an odd choice. Of that thin joke, the SIS woman evaluating James Bond’s place in the world just as much as a potentially sceptical audience could have been - it’s so meta -, we are delivered no outcome, no punchline, no final performance appraisal, no SMART objectives. An assessment of “Pernickety dullard” would fit. No wonder I persist with him. Buy these sunglasses.

Bond is struggling to remember something. Probably why he came upstairs. Happens to the best of us, that.

“It was after five in the morning when he finally cast off…” I accept that John is trying to make the chronology work without the sleight-of-hand who-cares trickery of film editing to gloss over such things, but what started as frenzied and orgasmic has ended in a long, hard labour and whilst that’s a natural course of events, I feel as consumed as the time. It’s nearly 10 a.m. before Bond boards the Manticore and it’s just as well that the trip there was “uneventful” as otherwise we’d have been introduced to every little fishy along the way. Back at the film, there’s an alarming moment when The Actor Pierce Brosnan pulls open a sliding glass door in such a posed manner that one wonders if they hadn’t fitted his truss properly that morning, or if he thought that is what Doing Acting is. It’s a brave physical performance choice, nearly as brave as Sean Connery’s decision to disguise himself as a whale throughout You Only Live Twice despite Japanese penchant for the harpoon.

“He was in a bedroom given over to sensuality: a mirrored ceiling, erotica on the walls and the scent of death reaching his nostrils…” Round Chez Jim, that’s usually the tipping point to change the sheets. Or burn them. “…the incoming breeze did nothing to disperse the odour he had smelled too many times in his life…” That’ll be the Boiled Egg oil. John’s not tolerating the silly – but, y’know, funny – way Bond discovers the body, although he has chosen to demote the man to a Rear Admiral (definitely wasn’t that before) which just seems to add insult to catastrophic internal injury. “He could see the ship dressed overall through one of the ports.” It’s that “dressed overall” that irks; I can see why and what it means in the film, but on the prose alone I would have no idea what this is telling me. We don’t yet know that there is going to be an public event there. This is germane to the story but protracted breakfast and footling about in a sailing boat were not. So, ‘tis Gardner after all.

“In that moment, the fact for which his mind had been searching since the previous night came into focus.” He’s left the iron on, the silly old trumpet. “ ‘Of course, Tigre !’ “ Classic Ken Spoon pomposity to whisper this to himself as the French spelling, despite the film, the manufacturer and the doors of the helicopter itself spelling it “Tiger”.

The Tigre’s a Wonderful Thing

Presumably the chapter title is a play on “The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers”, John always having been so bouncy, trouncy, flouncy and pouncy but then one realises this is another emanation of his Disney fixation and gloom erupts. Disperses when one begins to contemplate a flouncy, bouncy ‘chopper.

“He recognised the type. Hoodlums.” He dresses out of the 1940s and thinks that way too. It’s a new world. With new enemies. And an old fart. “…their ‘combat gangs’ that dispensed broken legs and bullets through the backs of heads.” You don’t want to mess with people like that, dispensing limbs through your head and whatnot. They sound terribly rough boys, in their bell-bottomed slacks and soft shoes. “One stood three steps inside the stateroom, the other took one pace inside, moving behind, and to his comrade’s left.” Even though it’s described in words of few syllables, and it should be clear what this means, I just can’t see it. Or summon up the interest to see it.

“In the back of his mind Bond baptised them.” This is a habitual Gardnorm, invariably the opportunity to demonstrate his gadfly wit. “Tub o’ Lard was three steps in, while Big Muscle was behind.” See? I apologise should the splitting of your sides now leave you bereft of ribs. Granted, it is a means of avoiding confusion caused by referring to more than one person just as “the man”. The film sidesteps the issue by taking the revolutionary step of there only being one anyway. This has the additional benefit of not giving the character a name, let alone “Tub o’ Lard”, which would have caused such embarrassment on the convention circuit.

“By this time, Bond had grappled with Tub o’ Lard…” There’s no need for this, there are plenty of oils in the room and they have less saturated fat. And so the fight continues, described to within an inch of its life but impossible to follow other than “Bond wins”, which is all any of us need to know, or tolerate, beyond the concept of a “whoof of pain” which has a pleasingly onomatopoeic quality to it, if nonsense. There’s a curiously distanced manner in how the fight is described. “The various crunches came.” “There was also a loss of consciousness for both of them.” Might as well say “I’m exhausted, this plays out much as you expect, the film will get this over in seconds, on you trot.” John can’t decide on “state-room” or “stateroom” and I can’t decide between sighing or shrugging.

Bond, now operating “at speed”, if not on it, spends “time” - several sentences - hauling a motorboat alongside the yacht and then bumps across the water to the inevitable lengthy description of the helicopter. “…the file had been on his desk before leaving for evaluation in the field.” Hang on, he’s on a mission, is he? Where’d that come from? And why are the French not bothered about having a British Secret Service agent kicking around their patch, in the World’s most conspicuous car? Or, for that matter, put out that the British Secret Service are conducting their training and development procedures there? Deserve to have their helicopter pinched. “ ‘Commander Bond, Royal Navy Intelligence,’ he snapped as though he would personally rip the nose off anyone who doubted him.” There was a spate of Bond threatening nasal mischief in an earlier Gardner, always a ludicrous threat, as ludicrous as announcing himself as a means of moving about “discreetly”.

“…two figures appeared from the crew room which was obviously situated somewhere to their right on the port side.” Why tell us this? Why does this detail possibly matter one atom of one crumb? Few if any characters have been described, we don’t know what Bond’s ectually doing in France, but we have to be told this? Fine, Mr Gardner is dressing a skeletal screenplay at which he was probably given one glance at gunpoint, but the padding is undermining any urgency. No-one else spots that a “slightly built” pilot with a “cat-like tread” isn’t a chap, except Bond. His performance-related pay appraisal should be rewarding high-level key performance indicators like this and, should it not, Bond should file a grievance and demand that it’s redone and this time, what the hell, let’s do it in New Zealand. Send a less equine bit of fluff, though. “There was a pause of maybe three seconds as the two figures swarmed up the ladder…” Can two be a swarm? The swarm of Fortnum & Mason. The swarm of Renee & Renato. The swarm of Purvis & Wade. Think on that; you might need to be sitting down. Odd that the band in the book strikes up “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines”, given that the plot is about proving British aviation superiority, which this French helicopter thing won’t. Fun quiz time, mes enfants : in that film there’s at least a swarm – triple-swarm, perhaps more– of actors associated with Bond. Enchant all the ladies and steal all the scenes if you can name them. Don’t bother telling me; I already know tiddly-know.

“Bond leaped to his feet and lunged forward, heading straight towards the helicopter.” Bloody British; don’t want anything to do with Europe but as soon as Europe shows its new toy, here they come, demanding to take part. We are to learn that “several” people stopping him amounts to four. Accordingly, several is twice a swarm. Never knew that. “He sucked in air and began to shout again…” He is most decidedly being played by The Actor Puce Binbag. “…he watched the machine take off, lifting very fast…” - very quickly – “…and then going into an almost impossible Rate Five turn, something you did not see helicopters do as a rule.” That, John, is true, and thank you for addressing my limited life experiences so very directly. In due course it will do a perfect “Immelman Turn” but as John’s not directing any comment to me personally about this, I assume this happens all the time. I haven’t lived.

“ ‘You are part of some plot.’ “ Well, marginally, and only by fluke of HR procedure. It’s not as if any of this is happening because Bond is there. We’re on page 48 already and Bond isn’t even an actor (… tempting) in his own story. Curious way to try to convince us of the relevance of James Bond. “…his eyes hard and his face set as though carved in hard stone.” As opposed to what other sort of stone? And is it as hard as his eyes? Today’s Word of the Day is “hard”; use it as often as possible. “ ‘The Russian Janus Crime Syndicate’.” Is the “Russian” bit really required? I suppose it distinguishes itself from the Chichester Janus Crime Syndicate, who are a great bunch of lads and do tend to suffer because of the similarity of name. Bit like my pal Torquil whose Sunday League football side just happens to be called Boko Haram. You can’t imagine the wigging they get on social media. Is Janus much of a syndicate? “Syndicate” suggests the likes of SPECTRE to me, but Janus seems to be Trevelyan (it’s a spoiler but we all know ), Xenia, a dotted line to Ourumov and that Boris, and a few dozen flammable persons in Cuba. Doesn’t seem to have “reach”. Bigger than a swarm, though, I s’pose.

To end the chapter, a scene that finds no place in the film and serves to remind those of us who have been here since Licence Renewed of John Gardner’s fixation with office chairs, and baffle those who haven’t into wondering why James Bond is being offered up as a modern hero when he behaves like this. It is unclear how many days later the scene occurs, but they all roll into one at his age anyway. “There was no rich smell of his pipe…” The office has had a clean. “There was a Scandinavian influence…” Instead of a naval scene, this M has a clipframed 8x6 photo of Benny & Bjorn, a swarm of Benny & Bjorn no less, a suspect decision in and of itself and one that will have a catastrophic influence on the future artistic development of The Singer PiErrrrrrrrrCEEE! bbbrrrrssNAAAAAAN. We’re not told what Bond is wearing, so to continue the mood and liven things up, in this scene he is dressed by Tom of Finland. “…her own chair was not a chair but something into which you appeared to contort your body.” A chair, then. Did John Gardner have something against osteopaths? The fondness expressed for the previous M blithely overlooks that in Gardner’s hands, old M kept trying to have Bond murdered. What hasn’t changed between GardnerBond and a given boss is the timewasting bickering over details. “ ‘It’s a shade too pat for my liking.’ “ One wonders if the author speaks through M here; the plot, such as it is, isn’t as corkscrew as his own efforts and the scene reads both as criticism of the low-level likelihood of what’s happened, and apology-in-advance that this is so linear. Look, John, we need it basic to get the audience back on side within the space of two hours, that’s all they’ll give us. We can’t bore, frustrate and confuse them. Yes, of course we’ll make Icebreaker next. Promise.

“…many said she should really have been assigned to the Inland Revenue Service’s Special Office.” Not with that blind-eye to absurd HR overspend. “Bill Tanner…had almost resigned…” Gave him something to do, then. Tanner’s whole career to date has been a story of “almost”. What an invertebrate.

“ ‘Yes, indeed, the Tigre is a wonderful thing…” Oh Lord, she’s at it too, quoting away at bits from Disney’s mediocre period (1938 to date). Just as well this wasn’t filmed; they’d never have received clearance. The scene does take pains to prod at and then fill a logical gap the film kindly doesn’t worry us with, about how the helicopter could have been pinched and no-one finds it. “Then they simply took off again and did the trip in easy stages.” What trip? At this point, no-one knows where it is. Just as with Bond in France, we’re hanging around here, waiting for the story to happen in the apparent belief that one will . All seems so passive, and hugely coincidental. Energetic thriller GoldenEye, a reinvention of Bond to face the technological challenges of a new age. Which amount to sitting, breakfast, the lack of transparency in workplace procedures, and office chairs. I can see why they left this out: scene tends to undermine the new M, whereas the film does present her more sanely for the long-term as a competent authority figure (with corking legs), and nothing happens here, beyond John sideswiping at story lacunae, that doesn’t happen anyway in the next few bits along.

It also makes Bond look grumpy and unappealing. The film’s gone for a good-looking man in a dinner jacket driving around in an Aston Martin and getting into scrapes with foreign types and then winning at the Casino; all the muscle-memory suggestions of “Bond” in the audience familiar with him (even though those memories lie) and setting up immediate iconography for those new to it. How diverting and glossy it all is, and that’s just the hair. Chap in the book, however, is prissy about his food, and pissy about interior decoration. Can see why the film jumped the way it did. I know they went Full On Frown with Mr Craig in Casino Royale but that’s because for the first half of the film, everything’s his fault (protagonist, not just a hanger-around; see?) and in the second half, his bungles get mashed and his girlfriend kills herself, and both score highly in justifying a fellow being a touch miserable. Bond of (the written) GoldenEye has no such excuses (other than Flicka von BlahBlah being poorly but that’s not something we’re being immediately invited to contemplate, at least not yet). He’s just a sanctimonious know-all, filling his time whining whilst waiting for others to drive the plot. A parasite.

“His intuition told him that the Operations Room had unpleasant news in store…” Pierce, hello mate, that was your agent on the ‘phone, they’re going to try another season of Remington Steele. Yeah, I know, who’d have thought that’d happen again, eh? Sorry, going to need that script back; you know how it is. Pop the espadrilles by the door on your way out if you don’t mind? No, put that girdle down, don’t do anything rash. Oh, cease your snivelling.

James Bond, that exciting, turbo-charged, thrilling avatar of all our transferred wish-fulfilment, might turn up in the next couple of chapters of GoldenEye but it’s looking unlikely. Jacques Stewart is contemplating sexual oils, but is bound to settle on Mazola and unless there is an emergency care intervention pdq, he’ll start necking it from the bottle, the great fat Jabba.

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#5

:rofl:

Glorious tears of joy, spilled on a summit…

1 Like
#6

I cried all over my keyboard at this one.

Yes, John’s writing. At my tender age when reading his books for the first time, I could not put my finger on why it was all so difficult to get through, especially when the ‘other’ Bond books, by contrast, were so easy. The line by line dissection does the trick though.

Very clever, very well written.