Tag Archives: James Bond

Movie Crime Log: November, Imitation, Drop

So once upon a time Pierce Brosnan used to play James Bond who, I’m informed, is quite a popular movie character. In fact, Brosnan got off to an absolute flyer with Goldeneye, which really invigorated the 007 franchise after a few difficult years. Unfortunately, Brosnan’s subsequent Bond movies were toilet and he was – as all spies are, eventually – retired.

But Brosnan, a likeable and sturdy actor, is now back in the spy game in an adaption of one of Bill Granger’s Peter Devereaux novels called disingenuously There Are No Spies. Codenamed The November Man, Devereaux retires from the CIA – it’s all so meta! – after killing a child. But as Devereaux’s retirement would probably make pretty poor viewing, he’s dragged back to play a deadly game of cat and mouse against his former pupil.

Watch Brosnan walk in slow-motion away from an explosion!

So, the film company has clearly been waiting for November to come around so they can release this. It did okay in the States, but Brosnan has announced a sequel. We’re all thinking the same thing, right? The December Man…

So, look, that’s out this week, but I’ve frankly got nothing else to do, so let’s talk about next week’s big crime drama, Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My – oh, wait.

The Drop will forever be remembered as James Gandolfini’s last movie. It’s written by Dennis Lehane – the master of sweaty blue collar dramas – and is based on his short story Animal Rescue, which has subsequently been turned into a novel. Hey, waste not, want not.

So there’s that, next week. But there’s also The Imitation Game, in which man-of-the-moment Benedict Cumberbatch plays one of the tragic figures of our time, Alan Turing.

Watch Cumberbatch ride a bicycle!

The adapted script by Graham Moore topped the annual Black List for best unproduced Hollywood scripts in 2011 and was picked up after a fierce bidding process. It is, of course, about mathematician Turing and his team’s bid to crack the Enigma Code during World War II, but also his subsequent prosecution for indecency.

TV Crime Log: WPC, Duty, Fleming, Suspects

Be gentle with your hard-drive recorder this week, it’s going to need a bit of tender loving care on Wednesday night when it’s working flat-out. Our talented television schedulers have gone hell for leather piling the the week’s big crime thrillers there.

608However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

A bit like Call The Midwife, but with more whistles, BBC1 is returning to Birmingham in the 1950s for the second series of WPC 56. Father Brown, as we have seen, has injected a bit of life – and, of course, a bit of death – into the barren afternoon schedules. And like Brown, WPC 56 will be stripped across the weekdays – in a scheduling sense only – from 2.15pm to 3pm.

The blurb for the first episode would like to take down your particulars:

WPC Gina Dawson and her fellow officers expect trouble when the travelling fair arrives in town. As Gina makes enquiries into the whereabouts of a teenage runaway, she gets drawn into a feud between the girl’s Teddy Boy brother and the fair owner’s son.

Back at the station, Sergeant Fenton clashes with the new DI Max Harper when the body of a married town Councillor is discovered in a flat rented by an elusive red-headed woman, Rebecca Jones. The evidence leads DI Harper to an exclusive member’s only club. The arrival of businessman Lenny Powell leaves Max wondering who exactly this man is.

Sergeant Fenton crosses the line when he accepts money and a tip off from Lenny Powell about a rigged boxing match. DI Harper believes Rebecca is a key witness in the Pembrook case but all attempts to find her fail.

608The first series of BBC2’s corrupt coppers series Line Of Duty proved its best-performing drama in a decade, so it’s hardly a surprise that it’s  back for a second.

This time, Keeley ‘Ashes’ Hawes is the copper under investigation by anti-corruption unit AC-12. The first series – starring Lennie James – was tense and satisfying, so let’s hope lightning can strike twice.

It’s written, once again, by Jed Mercurio, who also wrote the terrific series Cardiac Arrest.

The blurb ain’t saying jack shit until it speaks to its lawyer:

After the violent ambush of a police convoy in which three officers are killed and a protected witness seriously injured, evidence suggests that a police source may have leaked the convoy’s whereabouts, the Force’s Deputy Chief Constable, Mike Dryden, takes personal charge, assigning anti-corruption unit AC-12 to the case.

With Detective Constable Kate Fleming excluding herself from the investigation as she trained with one of the ambush victims, AC-12 commanding officer Superintendent Ted Hastings assigns new recruit Detective Constable Georgia Trotman to work alongside Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott.

Initially AC-12’s most valuable witness, the suspicion soon arises that the sole surviving police officer, Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, could be their prime suspect. Did she lead the convoy straight into the fatal ambush?

Anyway, Line Of Duty is on at 9pm on Wednesdays, for the next six weeks.

Fleming-KeyArt-01-16x9-1So, it’s decided, then, you’re going to watch that – but, no, wait, Fleming is on the other side at exactly the same time. Aargh – what to do!? This four-part series reimagines  Bond author Ian Fleming as the prototype of his iconic creation.

The blurb certainly knows how to dress for the evening:

Untroubled by the spectre of impending war, roguish playboy Ian Fleming chases women, collects rare books and lives off the family fortune. Forever in the shadow of his brother Peter and an eternal disappointment to his formidable mother Eve, Ian is finally given some direction in his life when he’s recruited by Admiral John Godfrey to help in the effort against the Nazis.

With the somewhat sceptical support of tough-cookie Second Officer Monday, Ian’s extraordinary imagination and ability to spin a yarn makes him a perfect fit for espionage. The stakes increase as Ian’s chance encounter with the captivating Lady Ann O’Neill becomes a passionate affair that shapes both their lives.

Dominic Cooper is Ian Fleming, and that lady from Sherlock’s also in it, and it all looks very sumptuous. Fleming’s top-secret work during the war is well-documented. But Fleming, of course, was a bit of a fantasist – he was a novelist, after all – and I’m sure as long as you take the whole thing with a pinch of salt, you’ll be fine.

Just to reiterate, because you don’t seem like you’re paying proper attention, Fleming is on Sky Atlantic at 9pm, Wednesday.

EvidenceSo it’s decided then, you watch that and record the other thing and – wait, what are the chances? Suspects is on Channel 5 that same evening! Oh, noes! But it’s on at 10pm. Phew!

Suspects is a fly-on-the-wall documentary style drama, in which the cast improvise their own dialogue based on a detailed plot description. Don’t look at me like that — yes, it may work, or it may not. But it looks interesting, nonetheless. And hats off to Channel Five, with its wall-to-wall crime imports, for trying something different.

Each self-contained episode begins with a new report about a case with a lot of topicality. In the first episode, when a toddler is reported abducted from her home, her family come under immediate suspicion.

That bloke everyone loved in Being Human before they cancelled it – he’s in it. And her from Cold Feet.

Solo: The New Bond Cover Revealed

Random House has revealed the cover to the new Bond book. It looks, if I’m not mistaken, very much like this.


I like that. Kind of minimal, understated. Droplets, or bullet holes, and the merest hint of the legendary 007 designation. The book itself is set in 1969, so it marks a return to period Bond, which is where the character really belongs, I think.

The teaser blurb won’t take up much of your time: ‘1969. A veteran secret agent. A single mission. A licence to kill.’

Boyd has said part of the novel is set in Africa, where a number of his books have been set, and suggests that Bond goes rogue: “In my novel, events conspire to make Bond go off on a self-appointed mission of his own, unannounced and without any authorisation – and he’s fully prepared to take the consequences of his audacity.”

Shades of Licence To Kill, then. That movie was originally going to be called Licence Revoked, but the name was changed because it sounded too much like Bond had dropped points on his driving licence.

There’s a faint echo of Ian Fleming here, of course. The Bond creator was involved in the genesis of the Man From Uncle TV series. His only lasting contribution was the name of the hero, Napoleon Solo – surely as cool a name as has ever been invented.

Boyd’s participation is another prestigious notch in the bedpost of the Bond brand. Kingsley Amis, writing as Robert Markham, wrote the first post-Fleming novel, Colonel Sun, in 1968. John Gardner and Raymond Benson both wrote a series of novels which updated 007..

Since then, Sebastian Faulks – his effort was also set in the 1960s – and Jeffrey Deaver have both been given, heh, carte blanche, to reinterpret the iconic character. Boyd is the latest in what seems to be an ongoing project to align the character with critically-acclaimed authors who fancy a brief flirtation with arguably the most famous character of the 20th Century.

That’s the cover, then, but you’ll have to wait till September 26th for Solo to be published.

TV Crime Log: A Caribbean Mystery

Unknown-1Cities will turn to dust, jungles become deserts and deserts oceans, but rest assured that a TV company  somewhere will be grinding out a new Miss Marple TV drama.

The spinster sleuth returns to ITV1 on Sunday night in the first of a new  series – the sixth, I believe – starring Julia Mackenzie. A Caribbean Mystery finds Marple on holiday at the Golden Palms resort, far from her usual hunting ground of St Mary Mead, when her vacation is rudely interrupted by a murder.

Though the old girl’s appearances were never quite as prolific as stablemate Poirot, Jane Marple appeared in 12 novels and numerous short stories. Agatha Christie created her after apparently being annoyed that an old lady in an adaptation of one of her books was changed to a young girl.

Marple’s first appearance was in 1926. In her early appearances she was more shrewish, an interfering busybody, but the character mellowed.

Despite her popularity, the character had to wait thirty years till Margaret Rutherford famously played the role in a series of films. Since then she’s been played by numerous actresses, incuding Joan Hickson, Helen Hayes, Angela Lansbury – tuning-up for her marathon stint as Jessica Fletcher! – and Geraldine McEwan.

Christie was always asked why Jane Marple never met Hercule Poirot. She pointed out that they were very different people and wouldn’t have gotten on at all well. Occasionally, however, minor characters have popped up in both sets of books.  Curiously, there was a Japanese anime series which featured the two sleuths.

In an interesting piece of meta-casting, A Caribbean Mystery also features Charlie Higson as James Bond. Bond is an ornithologist in A Caribbean Mystery – Fleming famously named his character after a twitcher – and Higson is, of course, the author of the Young James Bond novels.

Apropos of nothing, yesterday I was on my way to the launch of Nick Taussig‘s new novel The Distinguished Assassin — a review of that coming up next week — when I walked past this:

photoFunny old world.

Anyways, I expect you’ll be wanting to know what time A Caribbean Mystery is on — it’s 8pm.

Thrill Seekers: James Bond

Some fictional characters are as real to us as the person next door. Thrill Seekers invites you to memorise ten — just ten! — facts about some of your favourite Crime Thriller characters. Ian Fleming’s James Bond has sold over 100 million books and he still has a, ahem, licence to thrill…

Unknown1/ James Bond first appeared in the novel Casino Royale in 1953, and many of his characteristics were already fully-formed – the love of fast cars and fast women, and putting bartenders to work making painfully-complicated martinis.  Author Ian Fleming, who worked in Naval Intelligence during the war, based Bond on a number of agents and commandos he had known – but Bond shares many of Fleming’s own characteristics.

2/ Bond smoked up to 70 cigarettes a day, his own special brand of Morlands. When you think about it, it’s amazing that he could climb the stairs, let alone manage all the action stuff.

3/ Fleming wanted his spy to be anonymous, a blunt-instrument. ‘I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happen.’ James Bond was the name of the author of a book called Birds Of The West Indies which languished on Fleming’s bookshelf. It was the dullest name that Fleming could think of. Now that short, terse name is a byword for glamour and action.

images-14/ Six other authors have penned Bond’s exploits since Fleming’s death: Kingsley Amis – writing as Robert Markham – Christopher Wood, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks and Jeffery Deaver.

5/ Bond has been played by a number of actors, all of whom you could probably name off the bat, but Fleming originally wanted David Niven to play the part. Cary Grant was also considered, and Fleming’s own cousin, Christopher Lee. But if you want to know what Bond really looks like, in the novels he’s described more than once as looking like the singer Hoagy Carmichael.images

6/ The movie Skyfall explored Bond’s Scottish roots. Bond has a Scottish father, Andrew Bond, and a Swiss mother,  Monique Delacroix, who died when he was 11. Fleming was a bit sniffy about Connery in the first instance, but his performance eventually won him around, and in his penultimate novel, You Only Live Twice, Fleming finally sketched in Bond’s Scottish background, a knowing nod to Connery. Albert Finney’s role in Skyfall was written for Connery – but because of his iconic status in the franchise the film-makers changed their mind about his appearance.

7/ Bond’s favoured weapon in the novels was a Beretta 418 until, following the release of the Dr. No movie,  a fan wrote to Fleming to inform him that Bond was toting ‘a lady’s gun.’ Fleming changed the pistol to the Walther PPK, introducing the character of Major Boothroyd , the military Quartermaster – and Q division was born.

images-28/ The most-uneventful Bond story is perhaps 007 In New York. Fleming was commissioned to write an article about the city for a book called Thrilling Cities. Fleming, however, was less than thrilled with NY, and instead wrote the short story, in which Bond makes scrambled eggs.

9/ Bond was married once in the books, to Contessa Teresa di Vicenza, or Tracey Draco, the only child of the head of the Union Corse, the Corsican crime syndicate.  Tracey is killed on their wedding day. In the subsequent novel, You Only Live Twice, Bond is a broken man until he extracts revenge from Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

10/ And Bond also had a child. At the end of You Only Live Twice he leaves Japan without knowing he’d got Kissy Suzuki preggers. A Raymond Benson short story called Blast From The Past takes up the story, when he arranges to meet his son, James Suzuki.