Mon | Jul 22, 2019

Daniel Thwaites | Jamaica’s Bond love affair

Published:Sunday | April 28, 2019 | 12:10 AM

Jamaica has copped a significant laurel by becoming the principal location in the next, as yet unnamed, James Bond movie. There’s nothing quite like the Bond imprimatur to add exposure, give glamour, and perpetuate the brand.

Tourism Minister Bartlett is reported to have sought out this opportunity, and that’s to his credit. The Gleaner writes:

“Bartlett said that showcasing Jamaica once more in such an iconic franchise as James Bond will have an impact on Jamaica’s tourism industry, providing ‘enormous eternal marketing’ for the island.”

The “once more” is because we’ve been here before, in Dr. No, the original Bond movie, and later, in Live and Let Die. And we can forgive the minister’s metaphysical lapse when he refers to “eternity” so loosely, forgetting, no doubt, that it’s rather more than the next century or two.

Plus, the Bond franchise comes with its own possibilities for controversy. Bond’s typical ladies-man moves, back when Sean Connery was the star, would nowadays qualify as date-rape and earn him a visit from the JCF’s Rape Unit.

Plus, there has been lots of talk recently about casting an Afro-British man as Bond, a move I would heartily endorse, and even casting a female Bond, which would be a very bad idea. None other than Daniel Craig himself apparently endorsed this female-Bond idea when he opined on who could follow him:

“The right person for the job, I think that’s what it should be. I think that everybody should be considered.”

Everybody? This is why he’s hired to say lines that somebody else wrote, because that is political correctness run amok. Should we look out for a female Mexican-American midget paraplegic Bond? No. The British accent, the stunts, and the love-scenes will prove a bit challenging. I’m all for artistic interpretation and all that, but there’s also those little things called ‘credibility’, ‘fit’, and who knows, even some verisimilitude with the original novels.

Emotionally detached

Plus, let’s not forget that James is supposed to be a murderous sociopath.

Anyhow, the Bond franchise is over 50 years old now, and it was beginning to show the effects of age. It centres around an emotionally detached secret service agent in ever more lavish and exotic locales, spending unlimited cash courtesy of the British taxpayer. Add to that, neat gadgets, fast cars and faster women – what’s there not to love?

Naturally, as with so many fantastic things, there’s a neat connection with Jamaica too, where Ian Fleming made home and wrote some of the novels that became some of the best scripts. Is it too much to hope that this 25th instalment that returned to the motherland turns out to be a good movie?

Of course, the debate rages about what’s the best and worst of the Bond movies, and being both idle and an authority on these matters, why not engage?

It’s a fact that the absolute worst Bond movie is Die Another Day (2002), with its invisible car and ridiculous Pierce Brosnan surfing a tsunami. Yet there’s a paradox. For the trouble with this theory is that the movie is still worth watching, even more so than what would be the second worse Bond movie, The Living Daylights (1987). That’s because it is logically impossible for something to be the worst anything if it features Halle Berry in a swimsuit, as happens in Die Another Day.

So the worst Bond movie is The Living Daylights, when the franchise seemed exhausted, and Timothy Dalton’s melancholy portrayal pretty much leapt off the screen and into my popcorn. A View to A Kill (1985) and Octopussy (1983) deserve honourable mention in the corridors of horribleness, leaving us with another mystery: “How do you ruin a movie with a title like Octopussy?”

Still, even a bad Bond movie beats watching most other crap, and will inevitably have pieces and pockets of awesomeness. Even Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan couldn’t screw Bond up completely.

BOND REBOOT

George Lazenby, the little-known Australian who made only one Bond, made a great one: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). This is where Bond falls in love, gets married, but loses her.

Then there’s Dr. No, the original, set in Jamaica. It established the franchise with a slower-paced plot and an interesting lead that nobody could have guessed would be flattened out by Roger Moore’s later efforts. Goldfinger (1964) and From Russia With Love (1963) are both excellent.

Thus it was established wisdom that Connery, the original, was the best Bond, with honourable mention to be made of Lazenby’s great singular effort. Roger Moore was, despite some charm, overall a disaster, turning the character into a less-jagged softer jokier upper-class toff.

All of which brings us to this extraordinary time. Daniel Craig’s reboot of 007 in Casino Royale is the best Bond movie, especially because it rooted out the kitsch and brings back the troubled law-enforcing rule-bending psychopath.

Recall, Bond orders the signature martini, but when he’s asked, “Shaken or stirred?”, replies: “Do I look like I give a damn?” This is a new man! Casino Royale was followed by Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre, all way-above-average movies. In other words, Bond is back.

And this is where likkle but tallawah Jamaica steps in again. Daniel Craig, though obviously challenged when it comes to casting, is the best Bond yet. And if a little Jamaican flavour seeps into the sinews of this upcoming movie, we may just have a really memorable flick that will advertise our lovely island for a long time. Which is good, even if not quite Bartlett’s eternity. Go deh, Eddie!

 

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com