APR 23, 2010 – FIVE Gs HAVE ROUTINELY DEFINED the Bond series: guns, girls, gadgets, globetrotting, and gobs of greenbacks. The influence of the latter is in the names of the films – Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever. It’s in the names of the characters – Moneypenny, Solitaire, Tiffany Case, Ruby Bartlett. It’s in the locations like Fort Knox, in the props like the jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs, in the set pieces like the high-stakes poker games. It’s in the box-office numbers that routinely scrape the stratosphere every single time a Bond adventure makes its way to the multiplexes. And yet, money is the reason the living daylights have been knocked out of the next Bond installment. Apparently, the world is not enough to resuscitate the debt-ridden Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that has housed the franchise for nearly five decades.
A quantum of solace comes from the fact that, in the movie business, cash cows are rarely ever eyed with a view to a kill, especially those on her majesty’s secret service, who’ve may have been dispatched from Russia with love. They’re never left to die another day, even if you only live twice. The question, therefore, is not whether, but simply when. James Bond, after all, has withstood the onslaught of he-man heroes like Schwarzenegger and Stallone, who made you think that the world had moved beyond dapper-dandy spies whose killings were flavoured with killer comebacks. Then came the age of special effects, which made us wonder if a quaint relic of the Cold War outfitted with quaintly mechanical contraptions was relevant anymore. Had a world moved beyond a so-called super hero who didn’t possess a single superpower?
But Bond has persisted, mostly because he’s a habit hard to shake off. We may bemoan the diminishing cultural cachet carried by these adventures. We may look back at earlier Bonds and sigh that no one has ever come close to occupying the throne vacated by the magisterial Sean Connery. But the desire to watch out for – and then watch – the upcoming Bond movie is hardwired in our DNA, even in the case of people in countries where not a trace of English is spoken. We are but Pavlovian puppets whose pulse begins to quicken the instant that opening riff begins to play. And play it will. We are, after all, talking about a man who’s wriggled out of situations involving volcanoes, sharks and libido-threatening lasers. Surely he can clamber out of a vat of red ink.
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