Game Review: GoldenEye 007

One of the most important video games made (according to me) has just seen a re-release. When Rare officially announced that GoldenEye 007 was ‘coming soon’ to modern consoles, pretty much everyone assumed that ‘coming soon’ meant coming soon. That announcement was back in September of 2022 and it was finally released on the 27th of January 2023, over 4 months after that original ‘coming soon’ announcement. Given the totality of time, I guess 4 months is technically ‘coming soon’.

Anyway, I knew that I had to get my hands on this newly re-released GoldenEye 007, it was one of my most played games on my N64 back in the late 90s. I wanted to not only play the game again, but also see if it has held up since its release just over 25 years ago. But before I do get into this review, a brief history of how and why this could be really disappointing.

Just for the record, as I write this bit, it is the day before GoldenEye 007 is released. So, I have not yet played this re-release. But before I do play and give my view, I want to cover how I think this could be a disappointment.

First, it has been just over 25 years since this game was released back in 1997. Some games do age like wine and are just as great now as they were decades ago. Some don’t and I have a feeling that GoldenEye 007 will be one of those titles that are better left in the past. Then, I have to cover the biggest disappointment. This is just the N64 game with a slight bit of polish. A while back, it was revealed that Rare had developed a full remaster of this game, to be released on the Xbox 360. The only problem was that Rare didn’t have the rights to the Bond license and loads of messy behind-the-scenes stuff involving Nintendo meant that the remaster could not be legally released. Fast forward a few years and at the start of 2021, the remaster was leaked onto the Internet, confirming that it did indeed exist.

GOLDENEYE 007 SCREEN1

Much like how Rare remastered Perfect Dark a few years back, the GoldenEye 007 remaster looked really damn good. When it was announced that this legal re-release was coming, many assumed that it would be the leaked remaster and given a bit of a tidy-up. But no, we are getting an N64 port instead. Why? Nobody really knows. Well, nobody outside of Microsoft, Rare and Nintendo know. There is most probably some kind of ‘legal thing’ stopping Microsoft and Rare from releasing the remaster. I have no idea what that is. If this re-release is okay, then why not the remaster? It can’t be an MGM/Eon/Danjaq productions/licencing issue because if it was, then surely that issue would still be there with the N64 version… right? It must be something between Microsoft and Nintendo and I don’t know what.

This is obviously a joint venture between Microsoft and Nintendo because the game is only being released on their platforms. I would assume this is due to the fact that, when the game was originally released in 1997, Rare was owned (or mostly owned) by Nintendo. So, the original source code for the game is still owned by the Big N, I think. This is why Rare have not been able to release the game before due to all the messy behind-the-scenes legal crap. Nowadays, Rare is owned by Microsoft and somehow owns some kind of stake in the original game because one of their (now) studios made it, even if Nintendo own the source code.

Still (as mentioned), Perfect Dark was remastered by Rare a while back and that was made while Rare was under Nintendo. It even uses the same game engine as GoldenEye 007, slightly modified. So, if Nintendo had no problem with Rare remastering and releasing Perfect Dark, why the issue with GoldenEye 007? This does make it sound more like an issue with MGM/Eon/Danjaq as the rights holders of James Bond. But as I previously said, if it was a Bond rights issue, then surely this version would also stumble at that same hurdle.

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None of this explains why the Xbox 360 remaster can not appear on both the Switch and the Xbox. Surely it’s the same game, just with nicer graphics. Though is it suspected that it is Nintendo being difficult and that they are the ones preventing the remaster from being released. Why could Nintendo and Microsoft reach an agreement to release the N64 version but not the Xbox 360 remaster? Or even better, why not both the original N64 and the remaster in one package? Best of both worlds and everyone wins. You’d think that these two multi-billion dollar companies could reach an agreement and put a smile on GoldenEye 007 fan faces. Plus, having a share of some profits from the game must be better than having a share of nothing.

Anyway, this is why I feel the disappointment could set in early, because this is not the very well-received remaster (which is still playable, if you know how). Then, there are two different versions of the same game. The Switch version has online play but the Xbox version doesn’t. However, the Xbox version gets a 4K upscale and framerate upgrade, as well as (much-needed) improved controls, I think. Look, this whole thing is a fucking mess. Why could there just not be one version of the game with all the same features on both the Switch and Xbox and more to the point, why couldn’t that one version be the remaster?

GOLDENEYE 007 SCREEN8

And with all of that out of the way, let’s see if GoldenEye 007 still holds up a quarter of a century later. Oh just for the record, I’m playing the Xbox version. I’m not going to do a traditional review, play the game and offer my opinion. Instead, I’m just going to load this up and scribble down my thoughts as I play. A ‘first impressions’ kind of thing.


Just from the title screen, I’m taken back to 1997 and a tsunami of nostalgia has just slapped me in the face. Some minor adjustments aside (copyrights, etc), it is exactly the same. Well, it would be as this is the N64 game ported over. The music, the intro and so on, all put a smile on my face that I honestly was not expecting. There are no bells and whistles here, just the game as it was, with some minor refinements. Moving that red crosshair around the screen feels much more natural on the Xbox than it did on the N64 using its controller. Right then, let’s play this thing and ready myself for some bitter disappointment.

GOLDENEYE 007 SCREEN2

Of course, starting out on the Dam level. It looks just like the original N64 game (because that’s exactly what it is), but just that little bit smoother. Now in glorious native widescreen too and from the off, those improved controls are wonderful. I’m not a hater of the N64 pad, but it was a tad awkward to use, especially with GoldenEye 007. Having to hold down a button to bring up the crosshair so you could aim and use those yellow buttons to strafe/look up and down. You don’t have to do that anymore as this new control scheme is more like a modern FPS game. Move with the left stick, aim with the right, simple stuff. Though you can hold down the left trigger and ‘aim down the sights’, which does bring up that classic red crosshair. But, you don’t control the crosshair around the screen as with the N64 original. Like a modern shooter, the crosshair stays in the middle of the screen as you aim. I wasn’t expecting this but the controls are great and work very well.

I’ve not played this game in 15+ years, so the old memory is a little hazy. But I still remember most of the level layouts and objectives. Oh and I’m playing this on the easy Agent difficulty, just to see how it plays. I do remember how playing on harder difficulties gave you more mission objectives to complete. I also remember how the game didn’t hold your hand (as with modern games) and left you to work out exactly what needed to be done.

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Ha! I actually forgot about the start to the second level and crawling through the air duct and taking out the guard in the toilet, like in the film. “Sorry, forgot to knock.”. It was impressive how close this followed the film, while still doing its own thing. A lot of the levels looked like scenes in the film, just N64ed. I think this is one of the main reasons that the game is so loved and celebrated, it was a movie tie-in that followed the film and did it justice. I have noticed the really stupid AI though. Things have advanced somewhat since 1997 in that regard. The enemies here are willing to just run right at you and directly into the line of fire.

Speaking of the enemies, that awkward side-jump they do brings back memories. The fact that they had various hit areas was pretty impressive for the time too. Shoot them in the leg, arm, etc and they react. Yeah, the AI is terrible, but I have to admit to enjoying this more than I thought I would. The improved Xbox controls are definitely a much-needed addition. You can aim and move at the same time now, couldn’t do that on the N64. That should make unlocking some of the secrets a bit easier.

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Some, well pretty much all, of the graphics have dated badly. That’s not something exclusive to GoldenEye 007 though, pretty much all 3D games of this era have dated like rotting meat. I’ve gotten a bit lost on some of the missions as I had forgotten quite a lot of the game, I’d totally forgotten some of the levels even existed. I need to brush up on and refresh my GoldenEye 007 knowledge. But the music, even 25 years later, the soundtrack kicks some serious bum-cheeks. Of course, the pause menu music is amazing. All of the music for this game is iconic and worth listening to on its own. One of the finest game soundtracks ever and it is so damn good to hear it again. I think this game has one of the best renditions of the James Bond theme that even most of the film composers can’t beat.

I had to quit and up the difficulty to Secret Agent, as Agent was just too damn easy and the combination of the bad AI and improved Xbox controls made it even easier. Plus, I get to remember how I’ve forgotten most of the other mission objectives now too. Yup, just as I remembered, no hand-holding, no objective markers. You have to explore the levels, read the mission objectives and work things out for yourself. The AI is still pretty stupid, but just that little bit tricker to take out. It was fun playing on Agent difficulty, but a whole lot better now I’ve moved up to Secret Agent.

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I have to be honest, I was expecting myself to play this for an hour or so and conclude that this is better left in the past. I’ve just played through the entire game in one sitting and loved it. Of course, the graphics still look very N64 and are not appealing to the eye for the most part. But then again, they’re also charming in their own way. Just before publishing this, I thought I’d take a look at the general consensus on the Interwebs. There’s a lot of negativity about the graphics. I have no idea what people were expecting, this is an N64 game from 25 years ago and it’s going to look like an N64 game from 25 years ago. The main backlash seems to be about the controls though, on the Switch. See, the Switch version doesn’t have the updated control scheme that the Xbox version has. I can see this being a major issue as even in 1997 and when using the N64 pad, GoldenEye 007’s controls were awkward. I can only imagine that is magnified in 2023 and when using a controller that is not the N64 pad. It seems that, despite the lack of online multiplayer, the Xbox is the best version to play. I think the lack of online play but better controls is a fair trade-off.

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Playing on Xbox, I’ve really enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. The controls work brilliantly and the slight upscaling of the 25-year-old graphics is basic, but ‘better’ than not having it at all. Still, the main thing, the core gameplay is great. I think that GoldenEye 007 is as playable now (if not more so) than in 1997, at least on the Xbox. I’ve now played through this on Secret Agent setting and really enjoyed it. I still want to go back and 100% it too, unlock all the cheats, finish on 00 Agent difficulty and so on. I have four new games in my review pile to get through and yet here I am, playing a game that is just over a quarter of a century old instead.

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Yes, I’m still annoyed that they can’t work out a deal to bring the remaster to us fans, but I’m not overly disappointed that we got this version instead, as I thought I would be. I can only hold out hope that this re-release is being used as a test to see if putting the remaster on the market is worth it. Microsoft, Nintendo, MGM/Eon/Danjaq productions, if you read this… yes, yes it is worth putting the remaster on the market. £20 a pop, you’ll make a fucking fortune. GoldenEye 007 is available on Xbox as part of Game Pass, or free if you own the digital version of Rare Replay. You can pick this up on the Switch for Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack members. Though Interwebs talk suggests that it’s really not worth it, as the Switch version is a bit poo.

Movie Sequels We Never Got: Timothy Dalton’s Third James Bond Film

The James Bond movie franchise is 60 years old this year. I have already done a little celebration looking at films within the Bond franchise that celebrated their own anniversaries this year. Including the Timothy Dalton led, The Living Daylights, which is 35 this year. All of which, brings me to the point of this article.  Timothy Dalton (the best James Bond actor ever) only made two films in the Bond franchise. But, a third (and even more) film(s) was on the cards. Obviously, we never did get a third Dalton starring James Bond flick, but why?

Now, you may have heard that Timothy Dalton’s third Bond outing was going to be an adaption of Ian Fleming’s short Bond story, The Property of a Lady. I’ve seen a few articles and videos covering this very story. Well… it wasn’t. The Property of a Lady was never even considered as being a Bond film, as far as I can tell. This just seems to be an internet rumour that has spread recently. But before I do get into all of that, I do want to cover why Timothy Dalton only made the two Bond films.

LIVING DAYLIGHTS POSTER

As mentioned, a third film was most definitely on the cards, there was even an outline of the story (which I will get to soon enough). Dalton was all set to be in the next film too. However, there were legal issues going on behind the scenes at the time and this prevented any more Bond films from being made for a while. It is a very lengthy story that I’m not going to cover here, but the info on the whole thing is easy enough to find. Anyway, at the time, Bond films were being released at a steady pace. The gap between The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill was 2 years, which was pretty much standard in the franchise and had been for a while. The gap between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye was 6 years. With the exception of the filmed but multiple Covid-delayed No Time to Die, that is the longest gap between James Bond films ever.

NO TIME TO DIE POSTER

Set to be released in 1991, another 2-year gap between films, Timothy Dalton’s third film was being worked on. Then, the previously mentioned legal issues arose and everything ground to a halt. So, why didn’t Dalton return as Bond once the legal issues were sorted? The truth is that he wanted to and the legendary Bond film producer, Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli wanted Dalton back too. Only Cubby wanted a bit too much, as Dalton recalled when talking to theweek.com:

“I think that I’d love to do one. Try and take the best of the two that I have done, and consolidate them into a third. And he [Cubby] said, quite rightly, ‘Look, Tim. You can’t do one. There’s no way, after a five-year gap between movies, that you can come back and just do one. You’d have to plan on four or five.’ And I thought, oh, no, that would be the rest of my life. Too much. Too long. So I respectfully declined.”

So yeah, Cubby wanted Dalton to commit to multiple films. But after having to wait for several years while the legal issues were sorted, Timothy Dalton felt that he just couldn’t do that. If the legal issues hadn’t stopped production on the films, we most probably would’ve had two or three more Dalton-starring Bond films, at least. As for that third film that wasn’t? Pretty much all of the following information has come from either Charles Helfenstein’s The Making of The Living Daylights or Mark Edlitz’s The Lost Adventures of James Bond: Timothy Dalton’s Third and Fourth Bond Films books.

LICENSE TO KILL POSTER

Timothy Dalton’s last Bond film, Licence to Kill, ‘under performed’ at the box office. I didn’t flop. In fact, it made more than 4 times its budget back. However, it did make the least amount of money of all of the Bond films to date. Reviews of the film, at the time, probably didn’t help much. A lot of them called the film out as being too ‘serious’ and that perhaps, the franchise was getting a bit long in the tooth. That lack of ‘enthusiasm’ for the film panicked the Bond producers. They began to worry that they had made the films too gritty, too dark, too serious. In order to get the franchise back to its former (debatable) glory, they thought that they should make the next film more ‘light-hearted’.

A very early idea for Bond 17 (as it was called) was to even go for an out-and-out comedy, using the 1967 version of Casino Royale as a template, but with the ‘real’ James Bond. That idea was quickly thrown out though as it was just a panicked knee-jerk reaction to the reviews that called out Licence to Kill for being too ‘serious’. Whether that straight-up comedy idea was even taken on board in any meaningful way seems to be debated. However, it did lead to the idea of going back to the Roger Moore era of Bond and adding more jokes, one-liners and so on. The film even had a teaser poster shown at Cannes in 1990.

BOND 17 DALTON

James Bond writer/producer Michael G. Wilson and writer Alfonse Ruggiero, Jr., known for his work on TV shows such as Miami Vice and Wiseguy, teamed up to write a draft story for Bond 17. Sticking with the idea of penning a lighter, Roger Moore-like Bond film, they wrote a rough story that involved robots going out of control that wouldn’t have felt out of place if Michael Crichton had written it. There are a few places that go over exactly what was in this story draft. Sites like mi6-hq.com and 007.info have plenty of details on this version of Bond 17. I’m just going to give you the outline of what the script entailed here.

BOND 17 STORY OUTLINE

Opening in Scotland at a chemical weapons factory. A team, led by the Minister of Defence, Nigel Yupland, discover a lab that is run completely by AI robots. One of the robots breaks down and bursts into flames and the investigating team tries to escape. The fire spreads and the factory explodes. In England, the Prime Minister ensures that an investigation of the explosion goes ahead, working with Yupland.

Cutting to M’s office. Of course, James Bond is the one brought in to find out what happened at the chemical weapons factory in Scotland. It turns out that MI6 received a letter that threatened the destruction of the factory. So, not an accident at all. Meanwhile, MI6’s Hong Kong office has also received a similar letter saying that another factory in China would also be destroyed in three days.

In Nigel Yupland’s situation room. He, Bond and Q are going over some low-quality photos and surveillance footage of possible targets, all of them have had a break-in recently. Q promises to get the images cleaned up so they can look for clues, but says that it will take 8 hours. Cutting to Tokyo, the Kohoni Industries complex is broken into by a mysterious figure. They find a crate heading to Nanking, China and swap the microchip in one of the robotic devices before making their escape.

LAMBORGHINI

An alarm sounds and the intruder is chased through Tokyo. They manage to make their escape in a Lamborghini and make their way to the docks, still being chased. They drive the Lamborghini onto a ferry and escape. But the chasing security take down the car’s license plate. Now free from their pursuers, the mysterious figure takes off their mask and is revealed to be the well-known cat-burglar, Connie Webb.

Back in England and Q has cleaned up the security footage of the other break-ins. Bond and Yupland ID the burglar as Connie Webb, revealed as being an ex-CIA agent and highly skilled. So, Bond is sent to Tokyo to track down Webb and find out who she is working for, using a new microchip that Q has created as bait to lure Webb out of wherever she is hiding. Before going to Japan, Q takes Bond to his garage where the iconic Aston Martin DB5 is kept. Q tells Bond that the car is going to be dismantled by Nigel Yupland as it is no longer in use. But Q does not want to see that happen, so he arranges for the car to be sent to Japan for Bond to use on his mission.

DB5

In Tokyo at a ski resort, Bond meets up with an ageing veteran spy heading for retirement called Denholm Crisp. Crisp has arranged for Bond to stay at the ski resort… the same resort that Connie Webb is staying at. Bond spots Webb and follows her. She gets into her Lamborghini, with Bond tailing her in his DB5. Realising that she is being tailed Webb puts her foot down and a car chase ensues. Webb heads to a helipad and makes her escape in a helicopter. Bond gets on another copter and has the pilot chase Webb.

The pursuit leads to a snowy mountain and by the time Bond gets there, Webb has already tried to make her escape on skis. Bond jumps from his copter (wearing skis) and so begins a classic ski chase with lots of typical jumps and such. Webb tries to lure Bond into a snow cornice (overhanging snow). However, she gets too close and the snow falls on top of her, she is trapped. Bond hurries over and saves Webb from her snowy tomb. The next day and they pair meet up for dinner, all while retiring agent, Denholm Crisp, watches on. Bond does what he does with his Bond girls and they go back to Webb’s room at the ski resort.

SKI RESORT

Inside Webb’s room, Bond shows her Q’s new microchip (bait) and asks her if she knows anybody who could be interested in buying the technology. As she is holding the chip, there’s a knock on the door but it’s not room service. Bond gets up to answer it and he is knocked out. He wakes up cuffed to a chair and the Kohoni brothers (the owners of the Kohoni Industries complex that Webb broke into) are in front of him. Webb is interrogated about the robbery by one of the bothers and says that they will tazer Bond if she does not talk. She keeps quiet and Bond is given several 1000 volts of electricity, knocking him (still cuffed to the chair) to the floor. He’s hit with another blast of the tazer, only this time, he grabs the leg of one of the Kohoni brothers. The electricity passes through Bond and takes out one of his captors. Breaking free from the chair, Bond fights the other Kohoni brother before he and Webb escape through a window. Now on the streets and still being chased, Connie Webb makes it to her Lamborghini and escapes (with Q’s microchip), leaving Bond behind. He uses a nearby torchlight parade as cover to lose his pursuers.

Back with Webb and she makes contact with Otto Winkhart, the person she has been breaking into factories for. Webb tells Winkhart all about Q’s new microchip that she now has and he is very interested in getting hold of it. She agrees to sell it to Winkhart and the two meet up.

MICROCHIP

Now with the chip, Otto Winkhart flies to Hong Kong to meet Sir Henry Lee Ching a man with his finger on the pulse of technology… and someone who wants Britain to withdraw from Hong Kong. This was written before the Handover of Hong Kong in 1997. Anyway, Ching was going to use Q’s microchip to create and spread a computer virus that would disable every military and commercial computerised machine in the world. Oh, and he has a ‘girlfriend’ that is a cyborg who would fight Bond at one point and even has a car chase, featuring a high-tech supercar.

In Sir Henry Lee Ching’s situation room, he has a map of the world and he highlights the Nanking power plant (where the crate that Webb swapped the chip was heading). He hits a button and what happened in Scotland in the opening happens in Nanking. Sir Henry Lee Ching, via Otto Winkhart, via Connie Webb, was behind the whole thing. Bond eventually turns up at Ching’s base of operations and the climax of the film occurs. Bond wins and saves the world once more.

TIMOTHY DALTON BOND 1

That is the basics of what the story being Bond 17 was, as written by Michael G. Wilson and Alfonse Ruggiero, Jr. It was a rough outline of a story and it is quite clear that the aim was to make a fully original Bond film and not adapt The Property of a Lady, as others insist on claiming. I mean, that short story is about Bond getting involved with Fabérgé eggs and an auction to unveil a KGB agent. Nothing to do with robots and a megalomaniac wanting to shut down the entire planet’s computer systems. As far as I can tell, The Property of a Lady never was going to be Timothy Dalton’s third James Bond film at all.

That rough story went through various rewrites in 1990… and that was when all the legal stuff that stopped production on any Bond film happened. Work on the next Bond film didn’t pick back up until May 1993 when it was officially announced that the 17th Bond film was in production. Even then, it was still untitled and only known as Bond 17. No The Property of a Lady title anywhere. Elements of the story for Bond 17 and its several rewrites became the basis for the Pierce Brosnan era though. The not-so-serious tone, villain using advanced technology to threaten the world, etc. Even bringing back the Aston Martin DB5 made it into GoldenEye. In fact, GoldenEye was being written through 1993 and 1994 with Timothy Dalton in mind. 94 was when Dalton officially announced that he would not be returning and Pierce Brosnan was the new James Bond.

GOLDENEYE

I looked, I’ve really, really looked and can not find any official mention that Timothy Dalton’s third Bond outing was going to be The Property of a Lady anywhere. The film was only ever referred to as Bond 17 and was written as a completely new story, not based on any of Ian Fleming’s previous Bond books or short stories. I don’t know where the rumour of Dalton’s third film being The Property of a Lady began. There’s not even a slight mention of this being the title of the film through the history of the film’s development. I’m genuinely curious how this all started because there are people making videos and writing articles explicitly saying that the film was going to be called The Property of a Lady and yet, there seems to be no basis for that information at all. I think it was just something that was casually mentioned on the Internet and it soon spread like wildfire.

Sixty Years Of Bond… James Bond

2022 sees the James Bond film series reach the big six zero years old. It all began back in 1962 with Dr. No. Yeah, yeah, before the backlash of ‘actually’… begins. I do know that Dr. No wasn’t the first Bond film. Yes, I do know that Casino Royale from 1954 with Barry Nelson as Bond was technically the first. However, I’m talking about the start of the officially recognised franchise, the one that became a worldwide phenomenon and catapulted the James Bond character into the stratosphere.

BOND AT 60 IMAGE

Anyway, there are actually several other movie milestones within the Bond franchise that are worth looking at too and that’s exactly what this article is all about. Starting with that first official James Bond film from 1962, I’m going to do a quick celebratory look at all the Bond films reaching a worthy milestone in 2022.

Dr. No

DR NO

Released in 1962, making this inaugural film in the long-running, sixty years old franchise. The film didn’t just launch the James Bond movie franchise, it also turned its star, Sean Connery, into a film legend. Connery had a few small roles earlier in his career but becoming James Bond would be a career-defining role. It was also a role that Sean Connery ended up detesting.

Seeing Bond sent to Jamaica when an MI6 agent is murdered. The investigation leads Bond to discover the titular Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman ) and his nefarious plan involving a shuttle launch and a radio beam weapon… whatever that is. While this is the first ‘proper’ James Bond film, the novel it is based on was the sixth. Interestingly, the film makes several references to past and future Bond adventures. So this first appearance of Bond on film was treated as the character as already existing.

The intro to Dr. No set the standard that would be followed for six decades. The famed gunbarrel shot (though Bond was not played by Sean Connery but stuntman, Bob Simmons) the iconic Bond theme, the flashy and stylised graphics-heavy title sequence. It all began right here, though there was no dedicated James Bond song that became tradition after this film. Instead, what you do get is the Bond theme that mixes into a very Jamaican rendition of the Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme.

DR NO SCREEN

I’ve never really been a fan of this one, to be honest. I just found it all a bit ‘dull’ for a film that was billed as being such a huge action-adventure picture. Of course, you do have to give it credit for creating such a massive and much-loved franchise. Apparently, Bond creator, Ian Fleming, said of the film after seeing it that it was:

“Dreadful. Simply dreadful.”

I don’t think I’d go that far but Dr. No is hardly one of Bond’s best. The franchise had just begun and in fact, it wasn’t even thought of as becoming a franchise at the time. Even the production studio didn’t have a lot of faith in the film. When released, reviews were very mixed with film critics really not enjoying the film for the most part. Still, it was the general public that paid for cinema tickets that made it popular and once the studio saw the money that Dr. No was bringing in, a sequel was quickly greenlit. The beginning of Bond and a sixty-year franchise was born.

You Only Live Twice

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

This one came out in 1967 and is fifty-five years old this year. Now in 2022, this film is becoming infamous for the whole Japanese disguise thing where Sean Connery is ‘magically’ transformed into someone of a different race. The snowflakes of today like to find offence in things decades out of date. Still, I thought transitioning into something you are not was quite a popular thing these days…

Anyway, this flick has Bond sent to Japan to investigate the disappearance of American and Soviet spacecraft, which each nation blaming the other. You Only Live Twice is the first Bond film to show Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence ) proper. He had been in previous films, but never seen or only partially seen. The screenplay for the film was also written by the awesome Roald Dahl. This was also the first Bond film to really have very little to do with the novel of the same name. Dhal threw out most of the novel’s plot, only keeping a few smaller references, and instead wrote an all-new story.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE SCREEN

At the time, this was reported as being Connery’s last time playing James Bond. It was too… for one film. Conery was enticed back Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 and the non-canonical Never Say Never Again in 1983. Just a little tit-bit for you. Do you know the last time Sean Connery officially played James Bond? It was for the From Russia with Love video game from 2005. Connery not only lent his likeness to the game but he also recorded all new dialogue as James Bond.

I actually really like this Bond outing. It may not be ‘politically correct’ these days and it’s a shame that it has been getting a lot of bad press due to the whole Japanese disguise thing. The film is much more than one outdated gadget from over half a century ago. Connery was well into the role by now and I may even go so far as to say that this was his best performance as James Bond.

The Spy Who Loved Me

SPY WHO LOVED ME

1977 was the year that this Bond film hit the big screen, making it forty-five years old. By now, Sean Connery was gone and Roger Moore had stepped into the famous tuxedo. This was Moore’s third outing as James Bond. The Spy Who Loved Me was the tenth book by Ian Fleming and was also the tenth film in the franchise.

Bond has to team up with KGB agent, Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), to learn of the disappearance of a British and a Soviet ballistic-missile submarine. The duo learn that the subs have been stolen by Karl Stromberg (Curt Jürgens) and he plans on creating a new civilisation under the sea called Atlantis… cos it’s a James Bond film. This is the first film where Bond gets to cross paths with fan-favourite villain, Jaws (Richard Kiel).

SPY WHO LOVED ME SCREEN

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of Roger Moore’s take on James Bond. It was a bit on the silly side and came across as more of a parody of the character. But that is not to say that Moore’s tenure as Bond and that era of films were bad, they are kind of iconic and enjoyable in their own way. While my favourite Moore/Bond film is Live and Let Die, there’s a lot to like here with The Spy Who Loved Me. The memorable opening with the ski-chase/skydive/Union Flag parachute. ‘Wet Nellie’, that’s the awesome Lotus Esprit S1 that turns into a submarine. The Nobody Does It Better song, the first of the Bond songs that’s doesn’t share its title with the film (though Dr. No didn’t have a dedicated song). I have always felt that this film was to Roger Moore what Goldfinger was to Sean Connery.

The Living Daylights

LIVING DAYLIGHTS

Thirty-five is how old this one is, being released in 1987. We are now onto our fourth official James Bond with Timothy Dalton now playing the part. I have to say this right here, Timothy Dalton was the best James Bond ever. He played the part much more closely as to how Ian Fleming wrote him, he actually looked like Fleming described him too.

For this adventure, Bond is assigned to help General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé), a KGB agent, defect. Whilst on the mission, Bond crosses paths with Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), Koskov’s girlfriend who is actually trying to kill Koskov. James Bond soon learns that the whole Georgi Koskov wanting to defect was a ruse for something far more sinister.

LIVING DAYLIGHTS SCREEN

The Living Daylights was not just a film with the best James Bond, it also brought back the iconic Aston Martin. Not seen in a Bond film since 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, as Lotus became the Bond car manufacturer of the Roger Moore years. Aston Martin’s V8 Volante was the car here and there’s just something about James Bond and Aston Martin that works.

Both of Timothy Dalton’s outings as Bond (this and Licence to Kill) have always been vastly overlooked, I feel. It really is a shame that Dalton didn’t have the chance to come back for more. Long story short and there were behind the scenes legal issues with the James Bond rights. It took several years to sort out and by then, Timothy Dalton was perhaps a bit too old and the producers wanted a new James Bond. A third film was written for Dalton and it was set to be released in 1991. I actually have a separate article looking at that film coming up later. Anyway, after the legal issues were resolved, a new actor stepped into the role, speaking of which…

Tomorrow Never Dies

TMORROW NEVER DIES

Released in 1997 and now a ripe twenty-five years old. The eighteenth James Bond film and the second to star Pierce Brosnan after GoldenEye. For me, Pierce Brosnan always felt like the Roger Moore of the nineties. Perhaps not quite as parody-like but certainly a James Bond that was a tad less serious than the predecessor.

This time around, Bond teams up with Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese agent. The two investigate the media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) who, as it turns out, is hellbent on starting World War III via the use of his media empire… and some stolen missiles, of course. This was the first Bond film after the death of the franchise’s legendary producer, Albert R. Broccoli.

TMORROW NEVER DIES SCREEN

This really is not one of the best Bond outings, yet it has one of the best Bond girls with Michelle Yeoh. She’s awesome in this and I always wanted to see a Wai Lin spin-off film. She was going to return for 2002’s Die Another Day to help Bond when he was in Hong Kong. But the idea was scrapped and the character was replaced with Mr Chang (Ho Yi) instead. And on the subject of that film…

Die Another Day

DIE ANOTHER DAY

Originally released for the fortieth anniversary of the James Bond franchise in 2001, now twenty years old itself. Die Another Day was specially written to pay respects to the franchise turning forty and was the last outing for Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

After over a year of imprisonment in North Korea  Bond’s freedom is exchanged for Zao (Rick Yune), the right hand-man of Korean dictator Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee) … who Bond kind of accidentally killed. MI6 believe that Bond has been broken by the Koreans and leaked information. After escaping MI6, James Bond ends up in Cuba and meets NSA agent Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson (Halle Berry). The two learn of a mysterious British businessman called Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and soon discover his naughty plan.

This was one of the few James Bond films I got to see at the cinema when I was a young twenty-something. Man, I was excited and I came out of the film one happy Bond fan. This film is packed with nods and references to all of the previous Bond films in the franchise. Lines of dialogue, background details, gadgets and more. Die Another Day is a feast for the eyes of a Bond fan.

DIE ANOTHER DAY SCREEN

I then re-watched the film a few months later on DVD… and it was utter pants. I think there’s something about watching a film at the cinema that gives the viewer a false sense of ‘wow, this is awesome’. This is not true of all films of course, but some. There’s just something about seeing a film with a crowd of people on a huge screen and an ear-bleeding sound system that can camouflage how good (or bad) a film really is.

Yes, taking in all the references was bliss for a Bond fan. But the story and characters of this film really are dull and I just didn’t notice how dull when in the cinema because I was too busy being a Bond fan and soaking up the references. I don’t outright hate this film, ‘hate’ is a very strong word and I very rarely use it. But Die Another Day is certainly a disappointment for what was supposed to be a big celebration… and it has Madonna in it too.

Skyfall

SKYFALL

The youngest film celebrating a milestone this year. Released in 2012, Skyfall is ten-years-old. This was our latest Bond, Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond. And if you are any good at maths, Skyfall was released on the fiftieth anniversary of the James Bond franchise. It has that awful theme song from Adele but don’t let that put you off Skyfall is great.

Here, James Bond has retired after accidentally being shot and presumed dead. When MI6’s headquarters are blown up, Bond comes out of retirement and offers to help. Back in service and sent to Shanghai, Bond learns of a man called Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva is an ex-MI6 agent who now has a penchant for cyberterrorism and he was the man behind the attack on MI6’s HQ. Silva is captured and brought back to England… which was actually part of his grand plan.

SKYFALL SCREEN

Skyfall is great, not my favourite Daniel Craig outing, that has to go to Casino Royale. But this film is awesome. There’s just something raw about it that makes it stand out. A very different Bond film but still familiar at the same time. I really do like Craig as Bond too. He’s very much like Timothy Dalton in how he is much more no-nonsense and far less jokey. Javier Bardem is a great villain, perhaps the best of the Daniel Craig era of films.


Well, this is it, my look back on sixty years of James Bond and at films that are sharing a milestone within those six decades. I’ll have a few more James Bond articles through the year to continue my James Bond at sixty celebrations.

Who I Think Will Play The Next James Bond…

So, the new Bond film, No Time To Die has finally been released after multiple and an almost two-year delay. It’s been well publicised that this is Daniel Craig’s final outing as Bond. Craig has often cited the fact that he’s getting too old to play the character now, that’s why he’s decided to hang up the Walther PPK after fifteen years and five films.

007 JAMES BOND

Fairplay to the man, he doesn’t want to do a Roger Moore and be pushing 60 while trying to play the character, I actually doff my cap to Craig for knowing when to pull the plug. However, what always happens when the current James Bond steps down is, the rumour mill starts turning and news outlets begin the long-standing tradition of bringing up suitable replacements to take on the James Bond role. So far, we’ve had names like Henry Cavill, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hiddleston and more that have all been namechecked as the next James Bond.

However, after watching No Time to Die, I think I know what’s coming and who’ll play Bond next. Now, before I get into this, I have to pop up a very gargantuan SPOILER warning. Seriously, I’m about to reveal a few major plot points from No Time to Die that are huge and will ruin your enjoyment of the film if you’ve not yet seen it. So, please don’t read this article if you’ve not seen the film yet. Or read it if you don’t care about SPOILERS. Last chance coming up to click away from this one massive SPOILERS coming.

007 JAMES BOND 2

SPOILERS

So there are two major events in No Time to Die that change the entire landscape of the franchise from this point on. First, Bond has a daughter, Mathilde. Played by Lisa-Dorah Sonnet, Mathilde is the daughter of James Bond and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) returning from Spectre. The second aspect is pretty ground-breaking (even if more than a little expected, to be honest), James Bond dies at the end. Now, this is not some subtle, off-screen death where you could possibly argue that Bond could come back. Oh no, Bond is dead for sure. He dies right there on-screen after being hit by a barrage of missiles that are launched at the villain’s hideout. Seriously, James Bond gets decimated. There is no possible way he survived, he’s deader than Felix Leiter. Oh yeah, Felix Leiter dies too. Hey, I did pre-warn about spoilers.

This changes things massively for the franchise. Producer, Barbara Broccoli, has recently been talking about the Bond character amidst suggestions that James Bond could become female. Broccoli has said that James Bond will always be male:

“James Bond is a male character. I hope that there will be many, many films made with women, for women, by women, about women. I don’t think we have to take a male character and have a woman portray him. So yes, I see him as male.”

JAMES BOND

So there you have it from the horse’s mouth, Bond is male and there is no intention to turn the character female. Of course, they could reboot the franchise and bring in a new male actor to play James Bond… but I don’t think that is what they have planned at all. I think the idea is to carry on in the Daniel Craig universe, even though James Bond is dead. See, Craig himself said something interesting recently on the very same subject of Bond becoming female:

“The answer to that is very simple. There should simply be better parts for women and actors of colour. Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”

In No Time to Die, James Bond isn’t 007 anymore. 007 is just a codename and anyone can be an agent with the famed 007 title. In the film, 007 is now Nomi, played by Lashana Lynch… who is both female and an actor of colour (as Craig suggested). Then you also have Barbara Broccoli suggesting that you don’t need to take the character and make him female too. Coincidence? I think not.

007 NOMI

For me, I think they will carry on in the Daniel Craig universe (all of his Bond films have been connected in some way). Nomi as 007 will be the next ‘James Bond’, so to speak. She will carry on the series as the main character, but still being connected to all the previous events. I fail to see, from a storytelling point of view, why the producers would set all of this up, a new 007 agent and Bond having a daughter, to do nothing with it.

The very final scene of No Time to Die, before the credits roll (my favourite scene by the way) has Madeleine Swann driving away with Mathilde and telling her about ‘a great man’ called Bond, James Bond, her father. Not only does that scene reference one of the most heartbreaking scenes in a Bond film ever (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), it’s also setting up for the future. They could have Nomi as the new 007 for the next 15 – 20 years, then have a now-grown Mathilde work for MI6 as a new agent, Mathilde Bond and follow in her dad’s footsteps. The films between could also show Mathilde growing up and working towards becoming a 00 agent. There’s a lot of scope to be had here.

COUPLE

The great thing about this idea is that, if it fails, the producers always have the reboot idea to fall back on. Say, the next (not) Bond film is released with Lashana Lynch playing Nomi as 007 and it flops, they could just bring James Bond back and restart the whole thing… again.

So yeah, I don’t think there will be a next James Bond, none of the names continually being brought up will work out as there is no Bond anymore, he’s dead and I think the plan is to leave him dead.

No Time To Release: Bond Delayed… Again

Ahhhhhh, Mr. Delay, I’ve been expecting you.

Perhaps the most obvious and unexpected news about the new James Bond flick, No Time To Die, has been announced. It has been delayed… again. Originally set to have been released in November of 2019, but it was pushed back to February 2020, before being delayed once more until April 2020. Then, well… the world went a little crazy as the whole coronavirus pandemic took over.

So, No Time To Die was delayed again for the third time to November 2020. Then more recently, it has been delayed… again, again until April 2021.  For those counting, that’s over a whole year of delays from its initial November 2019 release until its (supposed) April 2021 date. Now, it was originally said that the first round of delays from 2019 to 2020 were due to original director, Danny Boyle leaving the project. Then producers claimed the delay from April 2020 to November of the same year wasn’t due to the whole covid-19 thing, but because traditionally, Bond films had been released in November since GoldenEye in 1995. I checked, it’s kind of true as the films have been released October – December time. But that reason can’t wash now with a delay from November 2020 to April 2021 can it? No, I think it’s pretty clear the delay now is more certainly due to this pandemic and it’s effects on the economy.

NO TIME TO DIE CAR

Anyway, the point I want to make is… the film is done, its ready to be released and has been for months now. Delaying again is pointless because the virus isn’t going anywhere and will most definitely still be around come April 2021. Studios can’t keep delaying films and the cinema, as a business, just had to crack on with it. No Time To Die is just one of many that have been delayed. We were supposed to have gotten the new Ghostbusters Afterlife film this summer too, but that has been delayed until 2021 now. Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow and many more have been delayed. And the thing is that new films are being made as we speak… so where will they fit into the release schedule if all these other films are being delayed and taking up screen time? There will be a major problem with future release dates.

Releasing a film digitally on streaming services has got to be a better option than just delaying indefinitely. Or even better, release both in the cinema and digitally, then let the audience decide which they would prefer. Disney released their Mulan remake digitally and their streaming service instead of delaying and Disney had a 68% increase in Disney+ downloads. It’s not know exactly how much Mulan has made, but it made a lot more then the nothing if it hadn’t been released on Disney+. The new Bill & Ted flick, Bill & Ted Face the Music did both a cinema release and a digital rental service, and it became the top rented film on demand where made $32 million (and still counting) just from the U.S. alone via a digital release in two weeks. Currently, No Time To Die is making a grand profit of nothing, where as it could be making some money from both a cinematic and digital release. Either that or they just wait it out until April 2021 and when coronavirus proves to still be very much with us and people are still weary about going to the cinema, delay yet it again?

Delaying all these films will have a serious knock on effect with cinemas in the long run. One of the UK’s biggest cinema chains is already close to closing due to having no films to show. Having some money coming in has got to be better than no money at all, right? If studios keep delaying films like this, there won’t be any cinemas to show them in the very near future. Then what? The only outlet film stuidos will have is digital, which is exactly what they’re trying to avoid, the irony…

Honestly, by the time No Time to Die is released, they would’ve already cast Idris Elba as the next 007, no one will remember who Billie Eilish was or her song, the excitement over the film would’ve died down and there won’t be any cinemas to show it. Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, just release the damn film already. Making some money from partial cinema sales and a digital release has got to be better than nothing. Let fans see Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond before we all get bored of waiting and before the cinema industry is destroyed. As I wrote on Twitter back in September when the delay to November was first announced…

TWEET

Cinema’s biggest hero, James Bond, is going to kill off cinemas. I’m willing to bet any amount of money that No Time to Die won’t be released in April, 2021.