Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
This week had a free-for-all on Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as James Bond after he, himself, revealed it wasn’t “good enough”. Horatio Harrod conducted the interview for The Telegraph…
“His feelings towards the role are equivocal. “I felt I was caught in a time warp between Roger and Sean,” he says … He mock-shudders. “I have no desire to watch myself as James Bond. ‘Cause it’s just never good enough.” He laughs mirthlessly. “It’s a horrible feeling.”
Read the full interview here.
Soon after, The Guardian headlines an article on their blog as “The name’s Bland, not Bond: why Pierce Brosnan is right about his 007” and twitter was alight with ‘agreement’. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Daniel Craig – though a brilliant James Bond – was a version created by the trends of the time (as Brosnan was). Casino Royale built on the foundations set by Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Supremacy in 2004. The tendency of harking back, and re-booting series (as Christopher Nolan has with Batman Begins in 2005) was a proven success. In twenty years, when action films develop further, I’m sure Daniel Craig will look back at his James Bond and wonder whether he was ‘good enough’ too. Will we always see the charming/insipid love-story of Craig’s first two 007 outings as pure James Bond?
Between 1995 and 2002, Pierce Brosnan was what we wanted. His 007 in GoldenEye reinvigorated the series and rewrote the rule book – inspiring Ethan Hunt (Mission: Impossible in 1996) and Jack Bauer (24 in 2001) in due course. In one film, it single-handedly brought back fans to the series and reminded us as to why he’s still relevant with a plot harking back to the Cold War, in a modern context. The double-gun, Uzi-action of Tomorrow Never Dies, with the inclusion of Michelle Yeoh as Wai-Lin was inspired – responding to the fan base that adores the action films of John Woo. The World is Not Enough was flawed, but again, not because of Brosnan. In fact, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough both attempt at establishing a ‘real’ and loving relationship for James Bond (between Brosnan and Teri Hatcher and Sophie Marceau respectively). The producers were desperately trying to remodel the series – something only fully accomplished when we see the first relationship of James Bond in Casino Royale.
Die Another Day is difficult to defend. Poor Brosnan was placed into a CGI love-fest (a response to accepted, excessive-use of CGI in The Lord of the Rings and The Mummy series). Again, the simple fact that he could carry those torture-scenes at the start (one of the strongest openings and, again, pre-dating the torture in Casino Royale) proves how strong he was. He still managed to pull in an enormous box-office which, at the time, was unprecedented for the James Bond series. IN any other series, it was a box-office that would guarantee his role in the next instalment. But, rather than a fifth and final film, finances stalled the series for four years giving him a way out. Without Brosnan, Daniel Craig’s interpretation couldn’t have been as well-pitched and well-formed as it was.
It’s easy to argue that Daniel Craig is stronger in 2014. But Pierce Brosnan was a brilliant James Bond – and every fan who watched the series between 1995 and 2002 owe a debt to Brosnan’s portrayal. Would we have watched the series at all without his confident, charming James Bond luring us into the cinema in the first place? It was writers and producers that couldn’t make the bold changes necessary to do his films justice – until the success of others proved it was possible. Brosnan was never at fault and it’s worth noting that had Brosnan not been ‘good enough’, we probably wouldn’t have 007 making the billion-dollar, blockbuster bucks he is making today.