The Pierced Years

Posted: June 25, 2015 in James Bond
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It pains me to put Pierce Brosnan fourth, of all the Bonds he was the hardest one to rank, because you see I like Brosnan, I like him a lot, and to be honest I did um and ah between him and Moore, but in the end Roger made third place purely down to some very specific points. Firstly there’s longevity, Roger Moore made seven films, and most of them I liked, Brosnan only made four, and though I again liked most of them I think the percentages favour Rog. But hang about, I hear you cry, Dalton only made two films, and yes you’re correct, which brings us to the other sad truth about Brosnan…there’s just nothing truly unique about his Bond.

Every other actor before (or since) Brosnan has brought something a little different to the table, but too often Brosnan feels like an amalgam of all the men who went before him. There’s the dangerousness of Connery, the vulnerability of Lazenby, the humour of Moore and the ruthlessness of Dalton, but no element that seems uniquely Brosnan. He’s the identikit Bond, as if all those henchmen who managed to survive encountering 007 over the years finally got together and fed what they knew into that hilarious computer Q had in For Your Eyes Only…

computer

Which, I must stress, doesn’t mean I don’t like Brosnan. Hell Goldeneye is one of my favourite Bond films. The trouble is that after Goldeneye reinvigorated the franchise you sort of got the feeling that the producers weren’t entirely sure what to do with Pierce, which is odd, because he is a decent actor, and he might be amalgam Bond, but he’s still quintessentially Bond, so we got a series of very 90s style techno thrillers that are slickly done yet seem oddly similar. Take the Bond girls, having a good and bad girl, and having one of the two die has been a Bond staple going back to the 60s, but not in every film as they were with Brosnan ( yes technically Paris isn’t bad but she still dies and so is the exception that proves the rule) and you only have to look at the films either side of Bond’s tenure to see a difference; Licence to Kill features two good girls and both live, Casino Royale features two morally ambiguous girls and both die. And then there’s the recurrent theme of hiring American ‘name’ actresses (Hatcher, Richards, Berry) none of whom excel, in place of the more usual continental/relatively unknown actresses.

Brosnan’s films (and by extension Brosnan’s performance) also seem to struggle to balance the gritty and the fantastical, never more evident than in Die Another Day, one minute Bond’s captured and tortured in North Korea, the next he has an invisible car. For the record I actually like DAD but it does highlight the somewhat schizophrenic attitude of the franchise at the time.

Finally it must be said that some of Brosnan’s double-entendres were so bad even Rog might have baulked.

From a purely aesthetic level Brosnan has the right look and definitely the right physicality for Bond. He can be cold blooded, just witness the way he offs Professor Kauffman and Elektra, but he also acts like an over excited schoolboy at times, and that leads to one of the things I do love about Pierce, his enthusiasm. I wish certain other actors in the role had shared it. Too many men who strap on the Walther PPK do so reluctantly, but not Brosnan, there’s a genuine twinkle in his eyes at times, as if he constantly has to remind himself “I’m James Bond, I’m James effing Bond!” Just see the unbridled glee he demonstrates as he drives that BMW from the backseat in Tomorrow Never Dies. He loved playing 007 and maybe, despite what I said earlier, there is something new he brings to the role, the schoolboy glee, but if there is, and much as I love him for it, it isn’t enough to rank him higher than fourth (sorry Pierce!)

So one Bond left and one slot, I bet the suspense will be killing you until I reveal who’s at #2 next week!

Bond #001           Timothy Dalton

Bond #002           TBA

Bond #003           Roger Moore

Bond #004           Pierce Brosnan

Bond #005           George Lazenby

Bond #006           Sean Connery

 

 

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Comments
  1. Mim says:

    I love Pierce Brosnan to bits, he seems like a nice bloke, but his Bond films are my least favourites, because they were so Bond-by-numbers. I always get the feeling they worked out a few cheeky names for the girls, decided which car they liked, got a grab bag of locations they fancied and came up with a few gadgets, then tried to fit a story round them.

    Also Die Another Day has by far the worst theme turn. It doesn’t sound like a song at all, much less a Bond theme. Good job Tomorrow Never Dies had two decent songs, really. (I know everyone hates the main theme for TND but I quite like it.)

    • starkers70 says:

      To be fair I think a lot of Bond films were designed that way, but yeah it does seem more apparant during Pierce’s tenure.

      I quite like Tomorrow Never Dies, but KD Lang’s ‘Surrender’ is so much better (I’m guessing someone decided Lang wasn’t famous enough shortly before the film’s release, because David Arnold’s soundtrack riffs on Surrender all the way through!). I don’t know what Madonna was thinking! Her cameo is pretty cringeworthy as well.

      Brosnan always does come across very well. If you asked me which 007 actor I’d most like to sit down and have a pint with it’d be a toss up between Pierce and Roger

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