Daniel Craig suits up again in the latest Bond flick, taking his fourth spin as the super spy in Spectre. The film’s overseas reviews have been very strong and it will likely dominate the weekend’s box office but who among us would call Craig the best Bond?
I have a theory that the Bond nearest and dearest to your heart is the first 007 you saw projected on the big screen.
Popular consensus tells us that Sean Connery, who played the role in six films spanning 1962 To 1971 and then once again in 1983’s non-officially sanctioned Never Say Never Again, is the best Bond. As cool as Connery was he isn’t my top of the pops. Dr. No, the first 007 movie, came out before I was born and Connery more or less permanently parked his Aston Martin around the time I entered grade two.
The Bond that made the biggest impression on me was Roger Moore. I know critically speaking he wasn’t the most beloved Bond. Pauline Kael once wrote about him, “Roger Moore is dutiful and passive as Bond; his clothes are neatly pressed and he shows up for work, like an office manager who is turning into dead wood but hanging on to collect his pension.”
I also know that hardcore spy fans considered Moore too well-mannered and pleasant to be effective, but he was my first, and I guess the first cut is the deepest because I still have a fondness for his breezy take on the super agent.
But that’s just me.
To get a broader picture I did a highly scientific Double-Blind Bond Peer Reviewed In House Clinical Trial (in other words I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends) to determine the world’s favourite 007 portrayer.
The contenders were Connery, George Lazenby, Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Craig — everyone who has played Bond in one of the 24 officially sanctioned 007 movies.
Several contributors brought up others like Barry Nelson, who played James Bond in a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale. Also mentioned were David Niven’s turn as Bond in 1967’s Casino Royale and another actor who has never played 007. “Clive Owen,” suggested one poster, “once they get around to casting him in the next one.”
After eliminating the unofficial 007s and non-Bonds a team of experts (OK, it was just me reading through the posts as Live and Let Die played on the TV behind me) sifted through the results.
Pollsters said Brosnan Is Not Enough to ’90s Bond Pierce Brosnan who came in dead last with just 1.9 per cent of the vote.
“I liked Pierce Brosnan because he embodied all the others combined,” wrote one positive poster. “Charm, humour, ruthlessness, cunning.”
Timothy Dalton earned 3.9 per cent with one respondent saying, “If there really was an agent who was an assassin with a licence to kill … it would be him.”
At 9.8 per cent, George Lazenby fared better than Brosnan and Dalton even though he only made one 007 film.
My favourite Bond came in third with 15.6 per cent, just behind Daniel Craig’s 21.5 per cent. “Craig gets me wanting to watch whereas the others are placeholders,” wrote a Facebook friend, “Sorry.”
By far and away, Sean Connery was the winner with a whopping 39.2 per cent of the vote. This comment seems to sum up the reason why people like him. “Sean Connery because Sean Connery!”
Who is your favourite Bond? Chime in at @metropicks.
Jerry Bruckheimer is the most successful movie producer on the planet. Nicknamed “Mr. Blockbuster” Bruckheimer is either regarded as a genius or a lowbrow hack, depending on your tolerance for rapid gunfire, slo-mo car crashes and scripts with the emotional depth of a lunch tray. Movies such as Bad Boys, The Rock and Con Air have made him very rich and while he busied himself circling the earth in his Gulfstream IV private jet, thinking up new and insidious ways to blow things up, a trio of British filmmakers came up with a film called Hot Fuzz that both pays tribute to, and takes the Mickey out of, the Bruckheimer oeuvre.
A couple of years ago actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, along with director Edgar Wright created Shawn of the Dead, a zombie movie that effectively mixed big laughs with buckets of gore. That movie became a giant cult hit, establishing them as purveyors of smart, funny pop culture satire. This time out they’ve made an unlikely buddy cop picture that takes a few minutes too long to take off, but pays big dividends in the third act.
Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a big city London cop with an impressive record. He lives and breathes the job, and in one year racks up an incredible 400 arrests. His efforts don’t go unnoticed. In fact, they attract too much notice forcing his supervisors to arrange to have him shipped off to a remote village because his gung-ho attitude is making them look like slackers. Transferred to the sleepy little township of Sandford he soon begins to suspect that the quiet town holds some dangerous secrets. Teamed with a bumbling partner (Nick Frost) he sets out to get to the bottom of a series of remarkable “accidents” that have claimed the lives of several notable citizens. The nefarious plot the feisty cop uncovers is part Wicker Man, part Bad Boys.
Director and co-writer Wright carefully combines the very English sensibility of a movie like Wicker Man, in which a small community is investigated by a strong-willed cop, with the pyrotechnics of an American action film. Using the Bruckheimer Rule which states that the movie will get bigger, louder and more violent as it nears its close, Wright begins with a character study that morphs into a full-on blood-soaked actioner by the end of the last reel.
Cleverly edited and smartly written—homages include a tip of the hat to Chinatown, the greatest crime script ever written, with, “Forget it, Angel. It’s Sandford” and a literal shot-by-shot recreation from Point Blank—the film could use some judicious editing in the early reels. Hot Fuzz has an interesting premise and some good jokes, but at 121 minutes it feels a bit labored.
To pass the time during the dull bits keep your eyes peeled for some unaccredited big time cameos. Sharp-eyed viewers will be able to spot Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson as a homicidal Father Christmas, and Cate Blanchett as Angel’s masked CSI ex-girlfriend.
Hot Fuzz doesn’t succeed as brilliantly as Shawn of the Dead, but does an admirable job of mixing hilarity and havoc. I think even Bruckheimer would approve.