Goodbye Bond, Goodbye Fleming

By: The Gup Cup
Apr29, 2022

During my morning run, I saw a motorbike zoom past. My heart skipped a beat. I turned around to see if more bikes were coming and if I needed to find a hideout.


Clearly, I’d taken my Bond movie from the weekend a bit too seriously.


On a side note, partner said a survey says more than one-third of the tickets were booked by people over the age of 45.


“…and their companions too – like in your case”, I firmly added. He chose to ignore that and continued, “the younger lot does not know who or what James Bond is.”


Interestingly, a statistic from a survey done in the United States in March 2019 showed that 41 percent of ‘kids’ born in the year 2000 or later have never watched a James Bond movie!


What a loss!


Coming back to me and my emphasis on age. I’m not 45, rather far from it. Like far… very far.


Despite this AGE GAP, it was me who was quite keen to watch the latest Bond movie. For two reasons. First, I had to give a send-off to the 53-yr old dude. Second, my love for Bond movies in general.


I was a student of English literature. During the undergrad we did a module on popular fiction, definitely my favorite paper. Primarily because I was introduced to Rhett Butler. And boy did he give me the feels! In fact, he gave a lot of us those feels. For the first time, I fell in love. With a fictional character, I mean. And when I say love, it was lying down on the bed and thinking about him kinda love.


Alright, William Darcy managed that too. But Rhett was different. I’m sure a lot of you would know what I mean.


A part of the popular fiction module was Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.


So, I can take the liberty to say that I have been ‘studying’ Bond for a while now. I am not playing with words here. I really have been studying the character. The details I have, can be traced back to my final year of undergrad.


Now, don’t get thinking. All I mean by details is the perfect spy thriller formula of Fleming – get the reader to turn over the page.


No lingering description. No complications in terms of relationships, journeys, destinations, geographical settings, etc. No confusing the reader. No recaps and flashbacks. Disciplined exoticism. A hedonistic streak to offset Bond’s grim adventures. Usage of familiar household names to ensure relatability for readers. All this in the right amount; enough to titillate readers and thrill their senses.


In fact, Fleming’s line between fact and fantasy was a thin one. He traced most of the central incidents in his books to real happenings. He described it as ‘wartime memories of the Naval Intelligence Division of the Admiralty’, to which he attached a hero, a villain, a heroine and dolled up the scene.


Six years after Spectre, this was going to be Daniel Craig’s final take on Bond. I had to see it. Over the years I have started to admire the man. I mean who looks like that at 53 yrs?


I had another interest. Which was perhaps more dominating. To know how authentically ‘Fleming’ the movie was.


My conclusion – Not too authentic. There are certain ingredients that every Bond movie buff is looking for.


It ticks a few – exotic location, to begin with. Matera, Italy is definitely added to my bucket list. Jamaica, well not much was seen but I appreciated it because of its strong Fleming connection. The writer (he did not like to call himself an author), called the island his home for 18 years.


Next tick – gadgets and machines. Aston Martin DB5, makes a come- back much to the satisfaction for a nostalgic like me. The headlights retract to reveal a pair of extending machine guns. You also see Aston Martin Valhala and of course Aston’s latest flagship, the DBS Superleggera. Now, I may not know much about cars but I can tell you, this one was a beauty. But I had a problem. It wasn’t meant for Craig. Instead for the newly appointed 007 agent – Nomi, actor Lashana Lynch.


Why are we changing Bond’s gender?


Long back, Fleming had said, “The craft of writing sophisticated thrillers is almost dead. Writers seem to be ashamed of inventing heroes who are white, villains who are black, and heroines who are a delicate shade of pink.”


Now, as a brown skinned-female, I strongly believe in empowerment of women and of people of color.


But folks, this is entertainment! This is a work of art by someone. I’m not against creativity and progress, but certain things taste best in their original flavor. We have a lot of other areas where we can focus on for equality. Why is there a need to digress from the original just to be inclusive?


Coming back to machines – the speeding Triumph Tiger motorcycles. These were featured in almost every stunt scene. Yup! Now you know why I had those emotions during my morning run.


No Bond movie is complete if we do not mention Omega watches. The latest. But a Nokia handphone? Why? Was it a tribute to ‘once a leading handphone’? Wasn’t Bond all about awe inspiring gadgets and gizmos?


C’mon was there a bias because this MI6 agent had retired?


Perhaps that is also the reason why the new character – played by the gorgeous Cuban actress Ana de Armas – had so little to do. Neither dis she have the traditional Bond girl characteristics – pregnant pauses, wistful looks or attempts to seduce THE man. It may be a refreshing approach but not the Fleming device.


Arrgghh! I clearly cannot find the ticks of a true-blue ‘Fleming’s Bond’ in No Time to Die.


Running for 2 hours and 43 minutes, it is the longest Bond movie. Which clearly means there is a lot to fit in. What happens when you have a lot to fit in?


Not satisfying. Eroded Fleming formula.


It IS complicated.


It IS confusing.


It IS going back and forth.


The movie was perhaps a way to pour love over Daniel Craig and say good-bye. But by incorporating bits from here and there, the much-awaited film also bid a good-bye to Ian Fleming.


Yet this under-45 Bond fangirl doesn’t want to give up on hope. Perhaps the next movie goes back to showing what Fleming’s novel You Only Live Twice (parts of which No Time to Die is based upon) was all about –


While the rest of the world believes Bond is dead following the destruction of The Garden of Death, he actually suffers a head injury and is living an amnesiac life as a Japanese fisherman. Meanwhile, a newspaper carries his obituary.

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