I finally caught up with Casino Royale yesterday. I had some dead time, needed to veg’, and wanted to see it for myself. Call me a victim of hype. Quite what keeps me going back to James Bond all these years on, I don’t know. As with most blokes of my era, my childhood threaded through the Connery/Moore transition. Quite a golden thread to have in your life. But I’m not a Bond-buff with box sets and vintage posters, although I do still have the signed picture from Roger after I visited The Spy Who Loved Me set at Pinewood in, I think, 1976. I saw the submarines, the car, some filming, the lot. And then big Rog, in a black polo neck jumper, smoking a long cigar, came over for a chat. It was quite a day, which easily secured another 20 years of Bond interest.
I thought I was finally over it all after those awful, bouffant Pierce Brosnan vanity walks, but I still went back to see Daniel Craig. Keeping tabs on Bond is a bit like keeping in touch with an old friend, no matter how far the friendship has drifted. Things are nowhere near the same, but it’s good to see how he’s getting on.
And, clearly, Bond is getting on well. It seems churlish to criticise it. I’ve always liked Craig. A fine actor, marvellous in Layer Cake, and yes, he delivers on all the fronts required in Bond – no mean feat, bravo – but doesn’t he pout a lot and sounds so dry-mouthed you want to give him some water. And does anyone else think he over-did the weights and protein? And wasn’t that switch from Venice to the interior set tragically, unbelievably obvious. Who did the lighting there, eh? And, didn’t that card scene go on beyond all belief – what were they playing, group patience? And… oh shut up, it’s a Bond film, it doesn’t matter, it was fine. Thanks to Craig, the “franchise” (highly irritating word) is in good shape and is better stripped back from all the gimmicks. But blimey didn’t it go on? With the amount of blokes piling into the loo afterwards, I thought I was in for a tear up like the scene when Bond-baby gets his double “O” just so I could have a double “P”.
The trouble with Bond is that it has to be everywhere to succeed. Bill-boards, bus shelters, mag covers, newspaper giveaways, TV trailers, making-of documentaries. I’d seen the best bits and was sick of it before I sat in the darkness. Bond marketing is so highly pumped it is as if you are beaten into submission – rather like in a protracted Bond fight scene – until you go. I went to Paris for a weekend with the Artist the other week and Bond had even taken over our hotel – The Grand – for the post-premiere party. It is impossible to get away from it. Craig walked by me, pouting, in a grey suit, and thought, I’d ‘ave him, no bother. I’d have glassed him with my craftily acquired flute of Bolly, then clubbed mercilessly with my steel NHS crtuch.
If there is one thing I have learnt from Bond, it is to be utterly shameless in the pursuit of off-setting costs by blatant product-placement. Hotels, airlines, cars, watches, lap-tops, mobile phones, clothes, they all get blatant banner positioning in the Casino Royale banker. Hence, from now on, I’m going full out for brand connection in my life, so don’t be surprised when you next hear from me that I am sipping a glass of Krug while posting from my 118 Wally powerboat.
If it’s good enough for Bond, it’s good enough for me.