MIAMI—To James Bond fans, they are the "stations of the cross," those familiar, funny touches that have become trademarks of this long-running spy film series -- the quips, the quirky characters, the catch -phrases.
"My name is Bond. . . . James Bond."
"Oh, grow up, Double-O-Seven!"
It was one of the few quibbles aficionados had with the "new" James Bond, and the new Bond series, launched with Daniel Craig in worldwide smash Casino Royale in 2006. Bond is back with Quantum of Solace, the 22nd Bond film. And the gripe is back. It's that "Bond-as-Bourne" complaint, as Hollywood columnist Nikki Finke calls it. All action, not a lot of fun, in other words.
"Usually, we get this rap, 'Oh, they're so formulaic that the Bond producers just tick off a lot of boxes, and they've got a movie,'. " laughs Barbara Broccoli, who along with her half-brother inherited the Bond franchise from her father, Albert "Cubby" Broccoli. "You do something rare and finally change it, and they go, 'Where's my "Bond. . . . James Bond"?'. "
Few gizmos, fewer laughs
Bond still drives an Aston Martin, but it's seriously short on gadgets. There's no Q, Bond's gadget guru. There's no Moneypenny, the secretary who pines over 007 every time he visits the boss, M. What gives?
"I am a huge fan of all of those things," says Daniel Craig, who took over the role in Casino Royale. "But you have to earn them. You can't just drop in, 'Bond, James Bond' or the other stuff without setting things up for that. Unfortunately, Mike Myers and Austin Powers just blew that whole jokey Bond genre apart. Brilliantly, too, I must say. It was all about the gag, and those are, let's face it, gags."
Quantum of Solace picks up moments after Casino Royale has ended. Like the 2006 film, the new one is action-packed, violent and somewhat humorless.
"He's still in mourning," explains Broccoli. "We felt he needed emotional closure after the first film. It doesn't mean he'll never say 'Bond, James Bond' again," says Broccoli.
Craig, now 40, grew up on the Bond films. He wants those trademarks in the films, too.
"We do suffer to get them in," he says. "We filmed me saying that line. It jarred. It snapped people out of the picture. So what's the point in having it in if it doesn't make sense, doesn't contribute to the story?
"I'm all for having Q and Moneypenny back in the series. I love those characters. But we want to introduce them. We can't just, 'Oh, here they are.' Let's find out who Moneypenny is. Let's find out who Q really is. Because we can and we should, especially for the younger audience."
A drink with a twist
Some Bond in the near future will need to make an introduction. He'll need to don a white dinner jacket, consult with Q or flirt with Moneypenny. He'll need a drink. At least, Broccoli says, the groundwork has been laid.
"He creates this martini on a plane, unable to sleep, tormented by this woman he loved who died," the producer says. "The barman is the one who gives this long recipe for a martini. We thought, 'He's mourning his lost love. This drink will recall her.' And that's much more interesting to me than him simply saying, 'shaken, not stirred.'
"But maybe next time."
Roger Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5369.