‘Battle of the Bonds’ tracks 007 kisses, kills and cocktails

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A chat with Daniel Craig and Bond film director.

The movie starring Daniel Craig as secret agent 007 took $9.2 million in its first full day in what Sony said was the biggest Tuesday ever in movie-going history in Britain. LOS ANGELES—Just when you thought that it wasn’t possible to make another topnotch James Bond movie, Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes serve “Spectre.” It’s a thrilling ride that more than lives up to the tradition of Bond films: gripping action scenes, spectacular locations and suspense. The figure was also bigger than the first-day UK gross for the last Bond movie, “Skyfall,” in 2012, the studio said in a statement. “Spectre,” which had its world premiere in London on Monday night, has won good reviews from movie critics and is due to open in North America and much of the rest of the world on Nov. 6. The two collaborators have become best buddies and that showed in how comfortable they were with each other as they sat together to field questions in this interview at the Corinthia Hotel in London.

The Daily Mail wanted to find out, so its editors dissected all of the miles traveled and locales visited by every single Bond across 24 movies to find the definitive answer. The fact that Moore was clearly well past his sell-by date failed to dilute my childhood excitement and I have since seen every Bond film at the cinema.

He may not everyone’s favorite double agent, but with seven films taking place in 44 locations, Roger Moore tops the list as the most traveled James Bond. Daniel coproduced his fourth 007 outing, which also stars Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Filipino-American Dave Bautista (whom I featured in Thursday’s column), Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci and Ben Whishaw. Bond by the numbers Sean Connery: 6 films – 32 locations George Lazenby: 1 film – 5 locations Timothy Dalton: 2 films – 10 locations Roger Moore: 7 films – 44 locations Pierce Brosnan: 4 films – 27 locations Sean Connery, the original womanizing spy, is the second most traveled Bond, visiting 32 locations in six films. In his hetero avatar, he’s as much a draw for straight blokes who aspire to be like him, as much as he is for the pretty boys who fantasise about him. As opposed to say, Diana Rigg, who Bond married at the end of OHMSS, Lynd is only memorable for her icy temperament – yet her corpse keeps getting dusted off to remind us of Bond’s broken heart.

But then we are introduced. “Kamal” – and I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that is probably not his real name – is 30-something, unshaven, quietly confident. “Kirsty” is only slightly older. By altering his orientation, the typical Bond fans will be alienated seeing their hero’s character and personality subverted from the way he has evolved over the decades. Bond fans travel to destinations just because Bond has been there.” All together, the six Bonds have been around the world more than 18 times, racking up 460,000 miles. Whether you’re a sucker for Connery’s witty one-liners or prefer Prosnan’s cheeky charm, check out the locations featured in every James Bond film since 1962. Kamal speaks first. “I’m what people would classify as an agent-runner,” he tells me. “Our job is to find individuals with access to secret intelligence of value to the UK government.

My job [within MI6] is to build a relationship with these individuals and work with them to obtain the secrets they have access to, securely.” And bang, up in smoke goes one of the biggest misnomers about espionage and spies. James Bond, and all the true-life men and women who work inside those sandstone and emerald-coloured headquarters at Vauxhall Cross on the banks of the Thames are not “secret agents”. Following some virtuoso filmmaking in a strong pre-credits sequence set during Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City, we’re off on the trail of a secret organisation whose stock in trade is, amongst other things, human trafficking and terrorism. Of course we’d like Bond to be as British as possible, but if Ben Kingsley can play Mahatma Gandhi with aplomb, I don’t see why Idris Elba can’t play 007. Shifting from London, Rome, Austria and back to London, too much feels like perfunctory box-ticking: glamorous European locations, check; world class tailor, check; Aston Martin, check; sinister man with long-haired pussy, check.

And Daniel is so fantastic in this movie… S: (Laughs) You look at the four movies and you see the growth of Bond as a character and of Daniel as an actor. That said, how would a black Bond be incognito in Russia? 1) Tony Blair has finally said sorry for the Iraq war and taken partial responsibility for the rise of the Islamic State (IS). Despite initial deceptions by Eon to claim the contrary, of course Christopher Waltz is playing Ernst Stavros Blofeld – blame the trailers for making that perfectly clear. Put bluntly, he has to try to recruit people to do difficult and dangerous things, sometimes betraying the very organisations they have worked with for years. D: The weird thing is, because I have done four (Bond movies) now, I was in a particular frame of mind when I did “Casino Royale.” There was no judgment on my part.

Or will power? “It’s a combination of all these things and a little bit more,” he says. “People have different motivations for working with the UK but the thing that underpins them all is that they willingly enter into a relationship where they’re passing intelligence to the United Kingdom.” It all sounds, to be honest, a bit other-worldly; a throwback, perhaps, to the monochrome world of John Le Carré, where people stubbed out cigarettes beneath their heel while waiting for a defector at Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie. He should be standing trial for war crimes, along with his buddy, George Bush. 2) Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell wants to be a role model for the young and set up a new free school for arts and business. Honestly, on this film, I went back to where I was on “Casino.” That was mainly due to Sam, to whom I continuously said, “You have had my back.” That allowed me to relax, have fun and enjoy every aspect of the filmmaking, not just playing the part. It’s that combination of technical and human intelligence that allows us to answer the questions that key individuals in Whitehall want to know about.” Like what, for example? “It’s a variety of different threats.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want — for Downing Street not to allow down-and-out fruitcakes to flash the welfare card by opening educational establishments. 3) The good news: Geeta is back in India, thanks to Edhi, Pakistan’s ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’. Those still exist, they haven’t gone away.” Kamal does not mention Russia once, but I remember an MI5 officer telling journalists not so long ago that there were just as many Russian intelligence officers operating in Britain in the 2000s as there were during the Cold War in the early 1980s. “Alongside those threats,” continues Kamal, “we have the terrorist threat, we have states and organisations looking to proliferate weapons of mass destruction and nuclear technology. Anti-climax! 4) I don’t know who is worse — pathologist Nicole Angemi who uploads horrific pictures of autopsies to her Instagram account, or the lady’s 547,000 followers who loyally track and like the hugely morbid images she posts. 5) The heart pains to the see the consequences of the ferocious earthquake that shook northern Pakistan after a decade.

The medieval thought process that this was the wrath of God for some secret sin, only demonstrates the country’s deep failing as an educated nation. The real failing lies in the ineptitude of the government for extending negligible timely aid, zero earthquake preparedness and disaster management to a region that is impoverished and calamity-prone. 6) Feroz Khan and Sajal Ali are clearly Pakistan’s new-age SRK and Kajol. Some approaches fail. “Often”, admits Kamal, “the people we identify are simply unsuitable for intelligence work for a whole host of reasons.” But when it works and the agent starts to produce intelligence, this gets passed up the chain to the reports officer, who assesses whether it is credible. “Once they are satisfied it is, they pass it back to the individual in Whitehall who asked the question in the first place. Is it not, I suggest, a tremendous psychological strain to be living a secret life that you can tell almost no one about? “When people join the organisation they are given a cover role,” says Kirsty. “They get a number of security briefings to help them manage that cover and actually it becomes second nature.

On occasion it allows you to engage your more flamboyant side, which of course is wonderful.” We are going off-piste here and I remember I have some more serious questions that need asking. I am almost embarrassed to ask but I do it anyway: is anyone in SIS (MI6) licensed to kill? “Absolutely not,” replies Kamal. “The mythology around espionage and around SIS in particular is extremely misleading. We are an organisation that revels in subtlety and the methods 007 employs – crash-banging across cities in both hemispheres – is entirely misleading. The gadgets and innovations department depicted in Bond as “Q” branch really does exist. “I think”, says Kirsty, clearly warming to her subject, “Ian Fleming would be surprised at the technology we have in the modern-day MI6. We have brilliant technologists who can come up with some amazing devices that can help enable intelligence officers to do their jobs better.” Including weapons? “No.

We stop short of anything that will do harm to other humans and certainly nothing related to knives coming out of tyres and exploding pens.” And Bond? They both laugh. “I think that is where the fiction ends and the fact begins,” says Kamal. “Because we are not like Bond, we don’t have officers that seek to fulfil their missions at any cost. Our officers operate within the law…The fact we need to ensure we continue operating in the shadows means we wouldn’t dream of having anybody like Bond in our organisation. Even in the biggest movie, if there is an element of reality and something that keeps the audience connected because they are emotionally invested in the film, that is a winner. This is the man who suffered the death of the woman he loved, the mother figure in his life and the person who was the ultimate authority or the only authority in his life.

S: With Monica Bellucci, it’s like saying, “Why did you cast Sophia Loren?” “Because it’s Sophia Loren.” And people say why did you cast a 50-year-old?

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