Forever and a Day – new Bond from Anthony Horowitz


The sea keeps its secrets. But not this time.

One body. Three bullets. 007 floats in the waters of Marseille, killed by an unknown hand.

It’s time for a new agent to step up. Time for a new weapon in the war against organised crime.

It’s time for James Bond to earn his licence to kill.

This is the story of the birth of a legend, in the brutal underworld of the French Riviera

Excited to hear about the upcoming new James Bond novel from Anthony Horowitz. I loved his first 007 outing, Trigger Mortis, so looking forward to reading this one!

Forever and a Day is a prequel to Fleming’s first Bond story, Casino Royale, and follows Bond’s origin, earning his infamous licence to kill. Set on the French Riviera in the 50s, it also features Moneypenny and M. Apparently it also includes previously unpublished material from Fleming for Horowitz to weave into the story.

Exciting stuff! Forever and a Day is published by Jonathan Cape Publications on 31st May 2018 in the UK, coinciding with Fleming’s 110th birthday.

My pre-order is already in!

Trigger Mortis, by Anthony Horowitz

Ah, Mister Bond. I've been expecting you. #Bond #007 #TriggerMortis

Trigger Mortis is a pitch-perfect Bond. Possibly the closest to Fleming’s Bond in any of the Bond stories I’ve read. Once I got past the seemingly-daft title (which does make sense as played out in the story), we get to a cracking tale of classic Bond adventure. Trigger Mortis follows immediately on the heels of Goldfinger, with Bond and Pussy Galore back in London. It’s not long before Bond is off on another mission, this time to race the Nürburgring and foil an assassination attempt against a British driver. But not all is as it seems, and soon Bond is embroiled in a bigger tale, one which threatens New York.

Horowitz’s Bond is superbly authentic, with a real feel for the character as written by Fleming. There are a couple of places in the book which, plot-wise, feel like slight mis-steps, but the action is such that they’re soon forgotten.

Very confidently written, and I hope Mr Horowitz has the chance to dabble in 007’s world again soon.

G is for Goldfinger (and GoldenEye)

Yes, dear reader. Today we’re talking Bond. James Bond. I thought it’d be interesting to compare and contrast Goldfinger with GoldenEye.

Crunchy stats first.

Goldfinger. 1964,7.8 stars on IMDb. Oscar for Best Sound Effects. Connery’s third outing as Bond, with a bigger budget (more than the first two films combined).

GoldenEye, 1995, 7.2 stars on IMDb, nominated for a couple of Baftas, but didn’t win either. We’re introduced to a new Bond, Pierce ‘Remington Steele’ Brosnan.

Let’s start with Goldfinger then. Connery’s Bond is sent to investigate bullion magnate Auric Goldfinger (and what a brilliant name that is) and to find out how he smuggles his beloved gold out of the country. Jill Masterson gets a rather suffocating paint job, Bond gets cross, hijinks ensue and he teams up with Pussy Galore (the lovely Honor Blackman) to thwart Goldfinger’s plans to irradiate the contents of Fort Knox.

Goldfinger is quite rightly regarded as one of the better (some say the best) Bond movies. It has all the requisite components – a dastardly villain, played with panache by Gert Fröbe, who is obsessed with gold. The henchman – the incomparable Harold Sakata as Korean manservant Oddjob (also rightly regarded as one of the best Bond villains) with his killer bowler hat. The daftly-named Bond girl, Pussy Galore (how they manage to keep a straight face is beyond me). Bond gets his Aston Martin – the DB5, replete with a wonderful array of gadgets including the ejector seat. The DB5 went on to feature in five other Bond movies: Thunderball, GoldenEye (which we’ll come to later), Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale and most recently, Skyfall.

It also has some wonderful lines, most famous of which is of course

Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

Apparently this was also the first time a laser appeared in a movie – they hadn’t been invented when Fleming wrote the original book – in the novel it’s a buzz-saw.

Bond also gets to start to play with more gadgets, and we get a lighter rapport with Desmond Llewelyn’s Q. In fact it’s the first time we get to see Q’s workshop.

Of the Connery-era Bond movies, it’s a close call between From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, but I think Goldfinger edges it. Throw in one of the best (if not the best) Bond theme songs, with Shirley Bassey letting rip with the title track, and you’ve got a belter of a movie.

Let’s turn our attention now to GoldenEye – the 17th Bond movie and this time introducing a new Bond. Pierce Brosnan followed Timothy Dalton’s rather dour Bond after a six-year hiatus. I rather liked Dalton’s Bond and would have liked to seen him given more of a chance. Pierce, by comparison, felt a bit… glossy at the time. We also got a new M in the form of Judi Dench, who immediately made the role her own.

M: You don’t like me, Bond. You don’t like my methods. You think I’m an accountant, a bean counter more interested in my numbers than your instincts.
Bond: The thought had occurred to me.
M: Good, because I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you.
Bond: Point taken.

Various other big names show up – Sean Bean as Alec ‘006’ Trevelyan, Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky and Alan Cumming (sporting a terrible accent, gawd love ‘im) as Boris Grishenko. The ladies are represented by Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova and Famke Janssen as the implausibly named Xenia Onatopp.

Moneypenny: M authorizes you to observe Miss Onatopp but stipulates no… contact without prior approval. End transmission, Moneypenny. Good night, James. I trust you’ll stay… Onatopp of things?

The plot is rather more convoluted than Goldfinger, and I do rather hark back to the simpler days. Here we have a murky tale of a wronged Lienz Cossack, satellite weapons, hackers, and a mysterious crime syndicate known as Janus.

It does have some splendid moments. The opening bungee jump off the dam (at 220 metres it set a record for a bungee jump off a fixed structure) is utterly spectacular, only to be topped minutes later by Bond chasing a pilotless plane off a runway on a motorbike, free-falling alongside it and, of course, escaping as the base explodes and the titles roll…
There’s also a rather implausible car chase between the iconic DB5 (there it is again) and a Ferrari F355. Fun while it lasts, but don’t think too hard about the practicalities of it. Famke Janssen did her own driving stunts in the Ferrari though. Kudos.
Then there’s more motorised fun with a tank chase in and around (and sometimes through) St Petersburg.

Tina Turner puts in a sterling effort with the U2-penned title track, but was never going to best Bassey’s Goldfinger.

Overall, it’s a fun outing – Brosnan puts in a solid turn as Bond, and it’s probably the best of his four movies. He made an excellent Bond, but as with Dalton, was let down by some sub-par scripts.

So, that’s Bond – Goldfinger and GoldenEye. Which is your favourite?

previously, on The A-Z Challenge
A is for Alien
B is for The Breakfast Club
C is for Catching Fire
D is for Die Hard
E is for The Empire Strikes Bank
F is for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Bond – Solo: a review

Ah, Mister Bond. I’ve been expecting you.

William Boyd's James Bond novel, Solo

It was with great anticipation that I started William Boyd’s Solo, the latest in a longer-than-you’d-think list of post-Fleming Bond stories. It follows on chronologically from The Man With the Golden Gun, and is set in 1969. So we find Bond celebrating his birthday as a 45 year-old veteran spy, sent on a mission to the fictional country of Zanzarim in West Africa.

Boyd captures Fleming’s Bond pretty well, I thought. There are fast cars, exotic locales, beautiful women and an awful lot of martinis and good food[1] along the way.

It’s definitely a book of two halves though, and is rather let down in the second act which felt a little rushed and too neatly wrapped up. We spent a decent amount of time in Zanzarim setting up the plot and the action there is great, though some of the later revelations were telegraphed fairly early on. Enjoyable stuff, with Bond in-country, doing his Bond thing as only Bond can.

Once the action switches to the US though, it rather falls over a bit. An old school chum is shoe-horned into the story, Bond does some detective work on his own recognisance, wraps things up rather too quickly and all of a sudden, we’re done. I’d hoped for more.

That said at least some of the villains were suitably villainous, with suitably Bond Villain-esqe quirks (what is it with Bond villains and dodgy eyes?) , the atmosphere was well done, especially in the African parts, and it’s always nice to see Mister Bond in action. It could have done with a little more danger and excitement along the way though.

If you’re a Bond fan, worth a read, but unlikely to make any new converts. There are better post-Fleming Bonds out there. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t read the wikipedia page on the list of Bond novels as it contains a massive spoiler. You’ll work it out yourself as you’re reading the book!

[1]that said, I was a little disconcerted to find Bond’s ‘secret recipe’ for his vinaigrette added as a footnote in one chapter.

James Bond – Solo

Bond Solo

The title of William Boyd’s new Bond novel was announced today.

The new mission.
1969. A veteran secret agent. A single mission. A licence to kill.
James Bond returns.

The last couple of Bond novels have been a bit lukewarm for me, but the idea of Bond going on a solo mission strikes me as an interesting idea.

What do you think? Have you read any of the new (or indeed original) Bond stories?

http://www.jamesbondsolo.co.uk/

Ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie.

Skyfall poster

I present, in no particular order, ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie, ever. Starring the best Bond, ever (imho)…

Spoilers abound, naturally. You have been warned.

Daniel Craig
It became clear to me very quickly whilst watching Casino Royale that Daniel Craig would make a very good Bond indeed. By the end of the opening credits I was convinced. He even redeemed Quantum of Solace (though more of than in another post).

In Skyfall he absolutely owns Bond and cements his place as The Best Bond. I will quite happily explain why, at great length, to anyone who asks. Again, maybe another blog post…

The pre-title sequence
Normally in a Bond film we meet our hero in mid-adventure, risking life & limb for Queen & country. But, he always gets away with it. This time it’s equally thrilling, with car chases followed by bike chases followed by derring-do atop a speeding train. Bond will surely retrieve the disc, won’t he?

Not this time. Farewell, Mister Bond. For now…

Cinematography
Skyfall looks amazing. Roger Deakins does a wonderful job throughout a largely UK-centric film. From the grim, rain-soaked streets of London to the neon-lit skyscrapers of Shanghai and the highlands of Scotland, the locations of a Bond film have never looked better.

Script
Bond is a character who says little, preferring action over chit-chat. There are some wonderful lines though, from Q’s “What did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that sort of thing any more,” to Bond’s “What makes you think this is my first time?”.

It’s M who gets all the best lines though, quoting Tennyson at a public inquiry into her losing the mcguffin hard drive, and her wonderful dismissal of Bond at her house, an over-the shoulder “well, you’re bloody well not sleeping here.”

Silva’s entrance speech is also mesmerising, a long, oh-so-slow walk up to Bond, reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia (with just a hint of Tim Curry’s memorable entrance in Rocky Horror), monologuing all the way, as all good villains do.

References to previous Bond movies
Oh, so many references. Little nods to the fans. It is a 50th birthday for Bond, of course, so lots of presents! How many did you spot? Here’s a few:

  • Running across komodo dragons (Live & Let Die)
  • the Moore-era comedy one-liner from the couple as Bond jumps on the back of a speeding Tube train
  • the lone sniper (The Living Daylights)
  • Bond’s obituary (Tomorrow Never Dies)
  • MI6 blowing up (The World Is Not Enough)
  • bad guys & fallen statues (GoldenEye)
  • Bond tied to a chair by the bad guy (Casino Royale)
  • “Don’t touch your ear” (Casino Royale)
  • the Aston Martin…

The Aston Martin
Oh, the Aston Martin DB5. Complete with ejector seat. I need say no more.

Judi Dench
Oh, Dame Judi. How we adore thee. Much as Daniel has done with making Bond his own, you’ve done the same with M, but for longer. Bond is nothing without the ladies, and doubly so in your case. The supreme matriarch figure, taking no crap from anyone. We shall miss you.

Javier Bardem
One of the best Bond villains we’ve seen for a long while. Silva is cunning, clever and ruthless. And by golly does he monologue well. And the only Bond villain to actually get what he wants. Stick that in your pipe & smoke it, Blofeld.

That theme song
There’s the theme tune. After Casino Royale’s “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell (which I still rate as a decent Bond tune, though realise that I’m firmly in the minority here) and Quantum of Solace’s theme, which I really dislike with a passion, we get a full-blown Oscar-winning Bassey-esque belter, courtesy of Adele.

This is a proper Bond tune, for our proper Bond. One which you can still hum days later. Big, brassy and bold. Utterly splendid, it wouldn’t feel out of place in any of the earlier Bond movies. Easily in my top 5. But that’s for another post, another day.

The ending (or is it a beginning?)
No, not the Silva/M ending. Though that in and of itself is quite splendid. The big reset, a clearing of the decks. We’ve got our new, proper Bond, and we have a new M to run the show. And a new, more capable, Moneypenny, not to mention Q. This feels like a new beginning. I, for one, can’t wait to see where they’ll take us next.

So. There you have it. My ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie. Do you agree or disagree?

Skyfall – a spoilery review

Right. Here’s my review of the new Bond film, Skyfall.

First, the short spoiler-free version.
Awesome.

What? You want more? Hmm. Keeping it spoiler-free:
The best Bond in the best Bond film, bar none.

Seriously? That’s not enough? Right. You asked for it. Warning, spoilers abound within.
*flexes fingers*

I was serious about the best Bond. I fully admit that I was nervous when I heard that Daniel Craig was going to be Bond, but within 30 seconds of Casino Royale starting, I was sold. By the time we hit the opening credits I knew we were in safe hands.

I *loved* Casino Royale, by the way. More of that another day. I even quite liked Quantum of Solace, though mainly due to Craig’s Bond.

(I’ve had several discussions with people over the ‘best’ Bond. Connery is the popular choice here, though I have a huge soft spot for the Moore era, as that was the Bond I grew up with. Lazenby is highly underrated and Dalton could have done so much better with a half-decent script. I loved Brosnan’s Bond, though not his Bond movies which were sub-par at best. Yes, even GoldenEye. And the least said about the invisible Aston the better. I mean, who on earth wants an invisible Aston Martin? They’re bloody gorgeous!)

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes, Skyfall.

It was with a little trepidation that I sat down to watch Skyfall. Were we going to get another Casino Royale? Or another Quantum of Solace-esque mishmash of confused plot?

Again, within 30 seconds of Skyfall starting, I breathed a sigh of relief.The old gun barrel opening wasn’t there, but the way Bond appears, stealthily down a darkened passage only to pop into focus in an artfully placed shaft of light?

Bond is back. Properly back. The pre-title sequence is breathtaking, starting with a car chase, then bikes, bikes on rooftops, bikes on trains, diggers! On trains! Piling one thing on top of another, pressure upon pressure, just the way a good  Bond sequence should.

Then that wonderful beat, that glorious split second where Bond jumps down from the digger (on a train!) as the back is ripped away from the carriage. Bond stands as the carriage behind him falls away and, cool and calm as only Bond could be, straightens his shirt cuffs.

I’ll say it again: Bond is back. Properly, properly back.

There’s the theme tune. After Casino Royale’s “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell (which I still rate as a decent Bond tune, though realise that I’m firmly in the minority here) and Quantum of Solace’s theme, which I really dislike with a passion, we get a full-blown Bassey-esque belter, courtesy of Adele.

This is a proper Bond tune, for our proper Bond. One which you can still hum days later. Big, brassy and bold. Utterly splendid, it wouldn’t feel out of place in any of the earlier Bond movies. Easily in my top 5. But that’s for another post, another day.

As for the film itself, it fairly rattles along at a marvellous pace, gleefully referencing Bond movies across the series’ 50 years. We get the classic Aston DB5, complete with gadgets, guns and gizmos. We get Bond escaping from mortal peril by runnning across the backs of komodo dragons, a nice little nod to Live and Let Die’s alligator farm. We get the Moore-esque comedy one-liner as Bond jumps on to the back of a speeding tube train. Brilliant little pieces which are scattered throughout the film like chocolate chunks in a particularly tasty ice cream.

In Javier Bardem’s Silva we get one of the best villains the series has seen for a very long time. Forget card-playing terrorist bankers. Forget media moguls trying to sell newspapers (if only I could). From his entrance in slowly descending Rocky Horror-esque lift, delivering a beautifullly paced monologue (what is it with villains and monologues?) as he slowly walked towards the camera, you just know Bond is in for a bit of a rough time. This is a villain with an actual honest to goodness reason for doing what he’s doing.

That moment where Silva toys with Bond, hand opening his immaculate white shirt, stroking Bond’s chest affectionately gives us one of Bond’s best lines:
“what makes you think this is my first time?”
He is an Eton old boy, after all…

Silva has one thing on his mind though, and it’s not Bond. The movie is all about M. M loses the NOC list – sorry, wrong spy franchise – and Bond has to get it back. It’s why Bond comes back from the dead. ‘Mummy dearest’ M is in trouble, so Bond drags himself out of his Heineken-soaked retirement to save the day. M finally gets the part she deserves in this, along with some brilliant one liners of her own. I loved the “well, you’re not bloody staying here” to Bond after his reappearance in her house.

On an aside, that was one thing which struck me – Silva goes through quite an elaborate series of Proper Villian shenanigans and plots to get to M, whilst Bond waltzes into her house, past lord knows how many alarm systems on a fairly regular basis. He hacks into her computer with a kind of bored ease, something the ubergenius computer hacker Silva appears to struggle with.

Oh, the hacking bits. Love. Especially the moment where Ben Whishaw’s delightful Q realises that Silva has hacked MI6 because he’s been numpty enough to plug Silva’s laptop into the network. Muppet.

I love that Q is back, drinking Earl Grey from his Q scrabble mug. Please, please let us keep him. And they’ve avoided another excruciating turn from John Cleese. Q has another nod to the franchise history with his lovely “what did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that any more”. Marvellous stuff.

Skyfall is packed with glorious cinematography – the night time neon-lit sniper action in Shanghai is absolutely gorgeous, as are the Scottish highlands (though it’d take some effort to make them look bad). And I loved that the bulk of the film is set around the UK. Well, London and Scotland at least. Bond struggling through the rush hour tube was fun to watch.

As for the Bond girls, we’ve got Eve (the lovely Naomie Harris), who turns out to be more than expected and Severine and of course, M. Can we say Oedipal complex, boys and girls?

Severine was the trickiest of the lot – Bond sizes her up as being a former child prostitute and product of the sex trade, then goes right ahead and shags her anyway. Heartless swine that he is. Then there’s a moment soon after where Silva forces Bond to try and shoot a glass of whisky placed on Severine’s head, with what appears to be a flintlock of some description. The inevitable happens (though at Silva’s hand as Bond refuses to play Silva’s game), and Bond turns to deliver the line “waste of bloody good scotch”. Shocking and callous at first glance. But there was a beat, a fraction of a second where you can see in Bond’s eyes that Severine’s death hit him.

But this is the new Bond, hardened by the death of Vesper in Casino Royale, armour fully in place.

I could go on, but this is getting ridiculously long as it is. Silva is a magnificent Bond villain, and the only one from the series that comes to mind who actually gets what he wants, in the end. A brave move by the writers.

Ralph Fiennes taking over as M at the end of the film feels in a way like it’s the series saying “Right. We’ve cleared the decks. Bond has been set up. Q is here, as is Moneypenny. The old M is gone, the last remnant of the former series. Time for a new story.”

Where will they go next? I can almost see them going back to Doctor No – it’d be fascinating to see Craig and his new, realist, battered, bloodied Bond take on some of the classic Fleming stories.

Have you seen Skyfall? What did you think? Is Craig’s Bond the best Bond ever? Is Skyfall? I would love to know what you think.

NaNoWriMo ideas

I think this year’s NaNoWriMo[1] might have to be a homage to Bond, James Bond. It is his 50th anniversary, after all. And I’m a HUGE Bond fan.

I need a good villain name – I’m thinking female, as very few Bond stories feature a really good female villain, with the exception of Rosa Klebb[2] and possibly Elektra King[3].

I need a good name. And possibly a Dastardly Plot – I’m considering having her attempt to wipe out the world’s coffee supply…

Suggestions onna postcard, to the usual address.

[1] oh god, am I really considering doing it again??
[2] though if memory serves, in the films[4] she was part of SMERSH, and therefore technically part of Blofeld’s gang
[3] not the best of Bond villains, though, was she?
[4] in the book though, she was working solo iirc